*Neuwertig – JOHNSONIAN Officer’s Dress Wellington Boot, Circa 1940: 44.5D
Size: 44-44.5 [US.10.5-11] [UK 9.5-10}
Styles: Boots/Stiefel, Militaria
Army Officer’s Dress
The Wellington boot dates from the early 19th century and is based upon the 18th century Hessian boots. It was popularized by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington who instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James’ Street, London, to modify the 18th century Hessian boot by removing the trim, cutting it more closely to the leg and ending it at mid-calf. With a semi-pointed toe and low stacked heel, it was an ideal cavalry boot, durable and protective in battle and yet comfortable out of the saddle. The Wellington boot quickly became a standard officers boot for both uniform and evening dress, and soon became fashionable among the British aristocracy as well.
The pair in question, a Wellington Boot in finest Calfskin, dating from the heyday of the wartime military production of its maker, the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Co., is very infrequently to be seen. From all shoemakers and all sizes taken together, I see one or two Wellington Boots a year. So it would be fair to say this is a rare shoe, particularly for being made to government specification during the war. For dress or every-day use, this simple and elegant design is wonderfully handsome worn under or over trousers.
The maker began as the Lester Brothers Boot and Shoe Company in 1854, was bought by Henry Endicott, renamed the Endicott Shoe Company and in 1899 with the addition of George F. Johnson as partner, redubbed the Endicott Johnson Shoe Co. The firm became an important player in the industry, employing up to 20,00 employees by the 1920s and continued as a government contractor through the war years before its eventual decline, sale and resale to other investors, in the face of unwithstandable overseas competition.
The annals of the firm reflect the great arc of the entire shoe industry in the 20th century with many anecdotes among which the most telling of the firms philosophy –and my favourite- is of the time labor organizer Samuel Gompers visited Endicott Johnson but attempted no organization or changes. When asked why, Gompers said that the firm already gave workers more than unions had achieved elsewhere, and that the Federation of Labor was working to bring other workforces to the pay and benefits levels Endicott Johnson provided on its own initiative. A lesson from the past that might well be learned by industry today.
Size Details:UK 10E.....US 11DE.....Continental 44.5D, for the medium width foot.
New never worn. Sold without shoe trees.