A pair of women’s buckle shoes

Made in England, c1780.

This pair of buckle shoes and buckle 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 from the Middle Ages found in English archaeological sites, to intact European shoes from the 1600s onwards, ‘foreign’ shoes collected as ‘curiosities’ from around...


Object No.


Physical Description

Buckle shoes, pair, womens, silk / leather / linen / metal, and buckle, maker unknown, England, 1780-1804

Womens pair of straight buckle shoes of turnshoe construction with blunt oval toes and covered thin louis heels. Shoes consist of grey blue ribbed silk uppers with silver embroidered floral motif on vamp, medium high tongue, square toe, round straps to buckle over vamp, one of which is pierced and a straight side seam. Uppers lined in natural leather and the insole is brown leather. Heels covered in matching grey blue ribbed silk are white stitched in the channel. Sole is of sueded brown leather.

Men's buckle of plated steel overlaid with black morocco and stamped 'Boulton & Smith Patent'.


Stamped on the back side of the buckle, 'BOULTON & SMITHS / PATENT' and the method of manufacture stamped, 'SOHO / PLATED'



75 mm



This pair of buckle shoes was made in England in around 1780-1804. Footwear scholar, June Swann notes the silver embroidery decoration is similar to that seen in 'lady's magazines' of the period that could be copied by a 'woman or amateur' and then sent to the shoemaker to be made up.





This pair of silk buckle shoes made in around 1780-1804 is part of the Museum's significant Joseph Box collection. 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


A pair of women's buckle shoes 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 18 June 2018, <https://ma.as/239856>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/239856 |title=A pair of women's buckle shoes |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=18 June 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Store 3 at the Museums Discovery Centre.

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