*Vintage JOHN SPENCER Calfskin & Antelope Officer’s Wellington Boots & Spurs: 42D/E (US 9D/E)
Size: 42-42.5 [US.9-9.5] [UK 8-8.5]
Styles: Boots/Stiefel, Collectors Shoes/Object d'Art, Evening/Formal, Exotic Leathers, Militaria, Wellington Boots
Army Officer’s Dress Wellington Boot
Antelope over Calfskin
Dated June 1965
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.
This particular boot, made to military specifications by Spencers, comes at a time when the George Boot was slowly replacing the Wellington for formal wear, thus it can be said that this boot is among the last to be produced, except by special order. Moreover, the present pair is doubly remarkable for its use of two contrasting leathers. Antelope is as rare today as it was then; in my entire career, I have seen only one or two Wellington Boots employing Antelope leather that were not custom-made. In fact, this boot may well have been a special order, employing hides provide by the gentleman-officer for whom these boots were custom made, a souvenir from shooting game in Africa.
Finally, it would be fair to say this is an extremely rare item, something for the collector but eminently wearable for formal or casual dress, an elegant design, handsome worn under or over trousers. The hand-forged spurs (provided) pull out of the heel-jacks easily, for storage or those rare occasions when spurs are not called for (although I cannot immediately think of when that would be).
History of the firm: John Spencer was established in Northamptonshire in 1915. Family owned for three generations, they continued to produce boots and shoes there, much by hand, untill the 1990s. Through most of the 20th century, Spencer became a supplier of exemplary dress and parade boots and shoes to the military. With ever dwindling call for ceremonial footwear by the military, coupled with qualified labour shortages across the industry, they succumbed to the generally negative market forces in the 1990s. Their reputation for superior workmanship in their heyday is well remembered and amply evidenced in this superb boot.
Size Details:Marked 8F, thus US 9D/E.....continental 42D/E, for the medium to somewhat wider foot.
A superb example of this classic boot. Bottoms showing almost no wear. Tops fine too, with a few trivial marks to the tips. Ready to take a coat of polish from the new owner.. Spurs pull out and reinstall easily.