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H4448-7 Laced shoes (pair), with labels (9), part of the Joseph Box collection, womens, linen / leather / silk / metal / paper, maker unknown, England, c. 1710. Click to enlarge.

Pair of laced shoes from the Joseph Box collection

This pair of laced shoes was purchased by William Box Kingston from Princess Maria Kelly who was given the shoe by the owner of a house where Queen Elizabeth 1 reputedly slept. The shoes and labels come from 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 …


Object No.


Object Statement

Laced shoes (pair), with labels (9), part of the Joseph Box collection, womens, linen / leather / silk / metal / paper, maker unknown, England, c. 1710

Physical Description

Laced shoes, pair, womens, embroidered linen / leather / silk / silver, and labels, paper, maker unknown, England, c. [1710]

Womens pair of straight laced shoes of rand construction with visible stitching and upcurved blunt pointed over needlepoint toe and covered Louis heel. Uppers consist of embroidered linen, lined with silk and leather, featuring a high cut vamp with square tongue, under latchets tieing in centre front, oblique side seams, centre back seam and leather soles. Edges bound in pink silk and uppers decorated with silver scrolls and silk flowers embroidered in the centres. Shoes appear to have been remade from an earlier fabric.



115 mm


90 mm



This pair of womens laced shoes was made in England between 1705-1715. The 1965 Box collection list describes the shoes as 'Tudor tie shoes'. However, footwear specialist June Swann notes: 'Although shoes were made "straight" and would normally have been swapped daily to equalise wear, each shoe has been pieced at the bunion joint where wear would be greatest, if worn continually on the same foot. There is no evidence the piecing was done after the present soles were attached. This suggests that the uppers were either made into shoes on a previous occasion (probably not before the late 17th century when womens toe shapes change to a point) or, less likely, that the uppers were pieced during the making of this pair. I suggest testing whether there is enough material in an early 17th century coif, which seems unlikely; they are probably made from a bodice. There is a smaller piece of piecing in the quarters. I am sure that, having been saved for almost 100 years, any embroidery not used in the making of a pair of shoes, would have continued to be saved, and would be available, say, a year or so later to piece and re-make this pair.'



This pair of womens embroidered linen laced shoes and labels are part of the Museum's significant Joseph Box collection. The 1965 Box collection list states: 'One pair of Tudor tie shoes. The embroidery is very remarkable and characteristic of the period. These were purchased by my father, the late William Box Kingston, from Princess Maria Kelly, who died at Feltham, Middlesex, December 2nd, 1882, who said they were given her by a friend in the Midlands, owners of a house where Queen Elizabeth slept.'

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'.

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

Cite this Object


Pair of laced shoes from the Joseph Box collection 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 November 2022, <>


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