The Shoehorn Museum's collection includes those that represent the entire history of shoehorns
ORIGIN OF SHOEHORNS
During the Renaissance period , stiff leather shoes replaced moccasin-type shoes. Mechanical assistance made it easier to put on these shoes. The first shoehorns were called "shoe lifts" and were typically made of wood or animal bone.
"Horners Emerge" - circa 1450
In the 1400's an artists guide emerged called "Honers." They crafted utensils, vases, gun powder containers and jewelry out of animal horn, primarily those of oxen. They made shoe lifts too and called them shoehorns.
Artistic Engraving - circa 1575
The Honers began engraving oxen shoehorns. While plain and simple shoehorns were available, the wealthier and more elite began to prefer those adorned with decorative carvings. Less readily available materials were used as well such as shoehorns of bone and ivory.
Elizabethan Era - circa 1600
Queen Elizabeth I popularized shoehorns by having them custom made as gifts for staff and friends of the Crown. These were amongst the first shoehorns made of metal such as brass and wrought iron.
Industrial Revolution - circa 1760
Metallurgical engineers created metal alloys to allow for the mass production of household items such as pots, pans, utensils...and shoehorns. The invention of electroplating in 1840 resulted in shoehorns of stunning colors and designs.
Victorian Age - circa 1837
This Age was marked by enthusiasm for fashion and fine art. A shoehorn of ivory, silver or gold was a sought after status symbol. This Era also coincided with the Japanese Meiji Period in which artisans created beautifully engraved and plated brass shoehorns.
Plastic and Stainless Steel
The invention of plastic in 1909 and stainless steel in 1913 allowed for the mass production of countless goods - including shoehorns. While advertising appeared on shoehorns as early as 1832, quickly and inexpensively mass produced shoehorns, often with advertising became the norm in the 20th century