From our Inquiries from Readers page (received today)
Chris M. from Indiana writes:
I am a graduate student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. As part of my Master’s thesis, I am researching objects deliberately concealed in buildings for good luck. I am particularly interested in the practice of concealing old shoes or boots in buildings, which seems to have been brought to the U.S. from Great Britain.
It is my understanding that a shoe was found in a house in Rocky Hill, CT. I am trying to find out more about the shoe, where exactly it was found in the building, when it might have been concealed and by whom. If you know anything about this object or any other unusual objects found in the walls, ceilings, floors, or chimneys of other historic buildings in the area (horseshoes, old garments, bottles with unusual contents, strange animal remains, iron tools, coins, etc.), I would greatly appreciate it if you would contact me or forward my email to someone who may be able to help.
I look forward to your reply.
“You are in luck as I was one of the persons finding the old shoe hidden as a “concealment piece” (as such things were then known) in the Rocky Hill home where I lived until ten years ago. The shoe was found some 15 years or so ago and after examining, photographing, and exhibiting it to society members we replaced the shoe behind the panelling next the hall fireplace where we found it. (see attached photo 18C Parlor…) The room in the photograph is actually what is known as the hall and the shoe was found behind the panelling near the upper left side of the hearth. The date of the house is c 1750; here is a view from 2006.The shoe may be viewed in this composite view made in 2009. Other, more detailed views (you can enlarge the images for greater detail) are here,here,and here. If you learned about this shoe from these photos on the web then you may already have seen them. The shoe is made of leather and is fastened together with wooden pegs.”
…would it be possible to use the photos of the shoe and house in my thesis? If so, how would you like me to credit them?
“I also wanted to let you know that I sent the photos of the shoe to the cobbler at Colonial Williamsburg and he identified the shoe as a “man’s or boy’s, 1820s-40ish, round toed w/pegged repairs. Waxed-calf with “dog-leg” side seam.” Which is interesting because it post-dates the house, suggesting the shoe was concealed at a later date, perhaps during an episode of repair or remodeling.”