Extra Fine – Important Antique ARNOLD’S (USA) Spade Sole Cap-Toe Oxford, Cir. 1920: 41D
Size: 41-41.5 [US.8-8.5] [UK 7-7.5]
Styles: Brogues, Collectors Shoes/Object d'Art, Oxfords
Double Hand-Sewn Welt
Spade Sole Cap-Toe Oxford
A museum piece, both for its great style and its unusual construction -notice the double hand-stitching of the welt, the double point spade and the narrow waist. A design masterpiece and a paragon of craftsmanship, this shoe was created with no regard for caution or convention, and with only the artists willful fantasy as a guide; all in all, a wonderful and very successful foray into the outer limits of the cordwainer’s art.
And art it is; certainly one of the most beautiful and imposing creations ever to grace these pages. The esthetic success of this magnificent achievement is predicated upon the risk taken by the artisan from whose hands and eye these emerged. When one voyages into the unknown, one can easily fall over the edge of the world which, in the case of shoes, is that frontier where the realm ostentation, flamboyance and affectation begins, where many great names have succumbed to the siren song of the marketplace or of the designers crying fashion. The art of this shoemaker was to eschew affectation and every true artist takes us farther than we have ever been but without letting us forget where we began. Today, almost 100 years later, the artisans of our age continue to be inspired by such masterpieces as this….and they are yet to surpass this great ancestor.
To my recollection, until at least the late 1960’s, Arnold’s Boot Shops, located at 900 Chapel Street in New Haven, was a fashionable shoe store catering to both ladies and gentlemen. This was a “downtown” shop, too expensive for most Yale undergraduates, at least the ones I knew, but the owner, Merwin Brochin, was well known to young and old in New Haven, as he also managed rock ‘n roll groups, including the Hall of Famer, Gene Pitney, and the local Doo Wop/R&B vocal quartet The Pyramids. Mr. Brochin was an eminently fashion conscious gentleman and remarkably well dressed. His uncompromising taste was fully reflected in his buying the best American men’s shoes for his store. This wonderful work of art, no doubt made to order, is a prime example of Mr. Brochin’s discerning eye. Unfortunately no record remain from the earliest days of the firm. The name of the master shoemaker in question is obscured by time.
These shoes are a testament to the claim that well made shoes, properly cared for, last indefinitely. Here is the example, still suitable for practical use, even though, I should hope, only on those occasions that they can be shown and appreciated. In truth, they are destined for the museum, the stage, or the collection of the passionate scholar or aficionado.
Size: US 8D…..(UK 7E)….. (Continental 41D), for the medium width foot.
Condition: Excellent as shown, All original including original O’Sullivans rubber heels.