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.....NIKOLAUS TUCZEK..... Rare, Historical Slipper by the Most Important Master of the 20th Century.

 

An Important
Custom Made
Full Wing-Tip Brogue Slip-On
Circa 1950
by the great master bespoke shoemaker
Nikolaus Tuczek
Established 1853
#17 Clifford Street, W1
The late, lamented firm of Tuczek of #17 Clifford Street, W1, bespoke society shoemaker, is a legend in the trade among historians and collectors. The importance of this master is only confirmed by the fact that George Cleverley, considered by some to be the finest shoemaker of the late 20th century, began his career with Nikolaus Tuczek in 1920 and remained with the firm 38 years before opening his own workshop. Tuczek’s designs are exceptionally sleek and most often feature his characteristic chiseled toe and elastic side gussets. It can be conjectured that this was Tuczek’s legacy as there is little to compare with the dramatic lasting, the intricate detailing, and the painstaking construction of the Tuczek shoe. But finally it is the overall effect of the design, the harmony of decoration and sculptural form that distinguishes this shoemaker. There is very little to be found from the last half century that possesses the stylistic boldness or charm of this present pair.   Shown hear for the pleasure of my collector clients. 
The history of the firm is well documented elsewhere but these dates of operation with addresses will be useful in dating shoes.
24 Arthur Street, Oxford Street 1853-1855
24 High Street, St Giles's 1856-1861
109 New Bond Street 1862-1886
39 Old Bond Street 1887-1903
15B Clifford Street 1904-1937
17 Clifford Street 1938-1966
21 Jermyn Street 1966-1969
The company was taken over by John Lobb around 1970. In a phone call Mr. John Hunter Lobb recalled to me that “We took over the remnant of Tuczek in 1968." Lobb has an unbrogued model called Elastic Sided with Plain Tuczek Style Elastic - (SS597) which, no doubt, they consider derivative of the great master’s style.
The pair shown here is quite small in size, about a UK 6 (US 7) (European 40), and in fragile condition with some discreet repairs, wonderful for display but too rare to be worn any longer. There is not doubt as to its fineness; a lovely shoe and imbued with history.
G. Bruce Boyer the author of Eminently Suitable (1990), quotes John Hlustik, who bought the Edward Green firm in 1982-3; "Just the other week a gentleman came into the shop for some new shoes. He was wearing a pair made by Tuczek in the early 1940s. They were so marvelous, I asked him if he would sell them to me...offered him $3,500. He refused, and I can't say I blame him. After 50 years, they had an absolutely vintage classicism about them." Remember this was $3500 in the 1980’s!
It is flattering to have my texts, such as this, widely quoted by others in the internet but what is really needed is a scholarly study on the modern history of shoemaking, that is to say, 19th and 20th century shoemaking, the great houses, American as well as English and Continental, the many lamented masters never mentioned (understandably) in such as the Laszlo Vass book on contemporary shoemaking, Herrenschuhe Handgearbeitet. The 20th Century began with a myriad of shoemaking workshops, both factories and cottage industry that produced some breathtakingly beautiful tours-de-force of shoemaking. These masterpieces and the artists who made them, like Tuczek and his work, should be studied, the few remaining shoes photographed and memorialized. Where is the passionate, young and scholarly aficionado do this? Please look in on this section of the website in the coming weeks at which time I hope to display some of the early 20th century shoemaking masterpieces from my collection.

 

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