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H4448 Collection of shoes and boots, part of a larger group of objects related to the art of shoemaking collected by Robert Dixon Box, Joseph Box and the Box Kingham family, leather / fabric / metal, various makers, England, 1500-1920. Click to enlarge.

Joseph Box collection of shoes, boots and objects related to shoemaking

Made
This Joseph Box collection is an important collection of footwear and shoemaking objects thought to have been initiated by the London shoemaker, Robert Dixon Box, and consolidated by his son, Joseph Box and the Box Kingham family during the second half of the 1800s. The collection ranges from remnants of leather shoes from the Middle Ages found in English archaeological sites, to intact European shoes from the 1600s onwards, 'foreign' shoes collected as 'curiosities' from around the world, shoe buckles, spurs and snuff boxes, as well as company documents relating to Joseph Box Ltd.

The Joseph Box shoe company was an important London shoemaking business established in 1808 by a 'ladies shoemaker' called James Sly. From 1816 Sly's apprentice was Robert Dixon Box, the fifteen-year-old son of a bankrupted Quaker attorney. Box became manager of the business when Sly died in 1826, subsequently attaining a reputation for fine shoemaking through participation at international exhibitions and by obtaining Royal Warrants. The business became known as Joseph Box Ltd in 1862 after it was transferred to Robert's son, Joseph. Like his father, Joseph started in the trade at the age of 15, but retired at the relatively early age of 42 to enable his daughters to enter society. Although he transferred the business to his cousins the Box Kinghams in 1882, Joseph maintained an active interest in shoemaking through collecting. Some of the shoes in the collection feature a remarkable 20 stitches to the centimetre exemplifying the attention to detail and quality of workmanship Joseph Box shoes became renowned for. At the end of the century the business was later taken over by royal shoemakers Gundry & Sons, which was itself taken over by John Lobb Ltd some time after 1953.

The Joseph Box collection provides a unique insight into footwear history, demonstrating how changes in contemporary attitudes, needs and etiquette directly affected shoe design. It also reveals the fine skills of shoemakers as well as the impact of scientific developments and technological innovations on the materials and construction methods.

Reference:
Mitchell, Louise, with Lindie Ward, 'Stepping out: three centuries of shoes', Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 1997

Summary

Object No.

H4448

Object Statement

Collection of shoes and boots, part of a larger group of objects related to the art of shoemaking collected by Robert Dixon Box, Joseph Box and the Box Kingham family, leather / fabric / metal, various makers, England, 1500-1920

Physical Description

Group of footwear, part of a larger collection, including, buckles, spurs and shoemaking equipment, collected initially by Robert Dixon Box and continued by his son Joseph Box and the Box Kingham family in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries. The collection includes prize winning samples and examples of footwear from other cultures, to demonstrate the development of the art of shoemaking, particularly in fine footwear.

Production

Made

Notes

See parts for information on individual items of footwear

History

Notes

Joseph Box Ltd had its origins in a London shoemaking business established in 1808 by a 'ladies shoemaker' called James Sly. From 1816 Sly's apprentice was Robert Dixon Box, the fifteen-year-old son of a bankrupted Quaker attorney. Box was to become manager of the business when Sly died in 1826, and gained a reputation for fine shoemaking through its participation at international exhibitions and by obtaining Royal Warrants. The business became known as Joseph Box Ltd in 1862 after it was transferred to Robert's son, Joseph. Like his father, Joseph started in the trade at the age of 15, but retired at the relatively early age of 42 to enable his daughters to enter society. Although he transferred the business to his cousins the Box Kinghams in 1882, Joseph maintained an active interest in shoemaking through collecting. At the end of the century the business was later taken over by royal shoemakers Gundry & Sons, which was itself taken over by John Lobb Ltd some time after 1953.

The collection acquired by the Museum in 1942 was probably started by Robert Dixon and consolidated by Joseph Box and the Box Kinghams during the second half of the 1800s. It includes remnants of leather shoes from the Middle Ages found in English archaeological sites, intact European shoes from the 1600s onwards, 'foreign' shoes collected as 'curiosities' from around the world, shoe buckles and spurs, as well as documents relating to Joseph Box Ltd.

Footwear scholar, June Swann, former Keeper of the Boot and Shoe Collection at the Northampton Museum in England was invited to catalogue this very significant collection in 1993. A large selection was subsequently featured in the Museum's 1997 exhibition and accompanying publication 'Stepping out: three centuries of shoes'.

REF:
Mitchell, Louise, with Lindie Ward, 'Stepping out: three centuries of shoes', Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 1997

See parts for more specific information about owners of individual objects prior to the Box family.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1942

Acquisition Date

2 April 1942

Cite this Object

Harvard

Joseph Box collection of shoes, boots and objects related to shoemaking 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 October 2020, <https://ma.as/239339>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/239339 |title=Joseph Box collection of shoes, boots and objects related to shoemaking |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 October 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}