Wards's Children's Footwear, 1914

Figure 1.-- Here we see children's footwear offered by Wards in 1914. Note the use of the term sansal for the kady;'s shoe and the children's twin strap sandals.

We do not yet have many catalog or advertising entries for 1914. We do note a 1914 page which has children's shoes and sandals. Here we see sandals as well as a few styles of girls and boys shoes.

Montgomery Ward

Although the word "consumerism" has a modern ring, it was personal concern for an early consumer movement, the "National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry," That inspired a young traveling salesman named Aaron Montgomery Ward to start the world's first general merchandise mail-order company in 1872. Aaron Montgomery Ward was born on February 17, 1844, in Chatham, New Jersey, to a family whose forebears had served as officers in the French and Indian Wars as well as in the American Revolution. Looking for something more compatible, Monty left home and followed the river to Lake Michigan and the town of St. Joseph, county seat and market for outlying fruit orchards. Chicago was the center of the wholesale dry goods trade and in the 1860s Ward joined the leading dry goods house, Field Palmer & Leiter. As a retailer, Potter Palmer had previously built a reputation for fair dealing. Ward absorbed these principles while working as a clerk for $5. The Chicago City Directories for 1868 through 1870 listed Ward as a salesman for Wills, Greg & Co. and later for Stetthauers & Wineman, both dry goods houses. In 1870, after canvassing territory in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ward was again footloose. The plan shaping in Ward's mind was to buy goods at low cost for cash. By eliminating intermediaries, with their markups and commissions, and cutting selling costs to the bone, he could offer goods to people, however remote, at appealing prices - for cash. Since its founding in 1872, the company has literally "grown up with America" and has had a major impact on the shopping habits of a nation of consumers. Montgomery Ward & Co. discontinued its catalog operations in 1985 as part of its restructuring effort to change itself into a modern, competitive chain of value-driven specialty stores, a move which for a time saved the company. week


We are not ure just how the term "sandal" was used in 1914. Note the woman;'s shoe here (item 2U 70029. It is clearly a shoe. Wards seems to be picking up on the two straps which is presumably why it is called a sandal.


We do not yet have many catalog or advertising entries for 1914. We do note a 1914 page which has children's shoes and sandals. Here we see sandals as well as a few styles of girls and boys shoes. The information about the shoes is quite uteresting.

Baby doll style patent leather

This is a shoe style we have noted both girls and younger boys wearing in the ealy 20th century. Here it is presented as a girl's shoe. Note that the term "sandal" is used in the ad copy. We are not sure whu it is called a sandal. Also note the term "baby doll" style. We are not yet sure if this term was widely used in the trade or just by Wards.

Baby doll style white canvas

We have seen these shoes in formal portraits. We did not know that some of the white shoes were made from canvass. Note that even though a cheaper material is used, the price is not much different.

Barefoot sandals

Here we see a pair of souble-strap closed-toe sandals. It is difficult to read the ad copy, but as best I can figure out these sandals were made for women, men, girls, and children. Boys are not specified. It was only available in the tan shade shown. The Wards' ad copy read, "Barefoot Sandals 42 cents to $1.00 Extra Good Value Fine Quality Tan Grain Upper Leather. Strong Soles Comfortable shape - 6 to 16 ox. Full Width -- no half sizes 2U70690 - Men's sizes, 6 to ll Pair $1.00 2U70695 - Women's sizes, 3 to 8 Pair 79 Cents 2U70700 - Girls sizes, 12 to 2 Pair 55 Cents 2U70710 Child's sizes, 3 to 8 Pair 42 cents." Note: sizes 8 to 12 not listed for some reason. Apparently Wards thought that girls of all ages would wear them, but only younger boys. This is unusual as they were made in mens' sizes.

Boys' stylish tan grain bluchers

We see boys in the 1910s wearing these high-top shoes a lot. The ones here are tan. We are not sure what is meant by "Bluchers". A Dutch reader tells us, "Re: bluchers: half-boots with laces. I think I once told you that I wore lace-up boots that belonged to my boy scout uniform when I went to Scotland for the first time (If I well remember you even put that story on an HBC page about my Belgian Scout experiences). They were British ammo boots which I had bought, as we all did, from an army surplus depot. My Scottish "aunt" called them blookers, or at least that is what I thought the spelling was up to now. I haven't heard the word ever thereafter and I thought it was a Scotticism but I am less sure of that now, after seeing them in an American catalogue. Wonder if they have anything to do with the Prussian general von Blucher who fought Napoleon at Waterloo. {It was Blüher's appearance on the battlefield to support Wellington that doomed Napoleon at Waterloo.] Seems unlikely as they all wore full boots up to the knee, and unlaced, in those days or at least so I think." In fact, the reference does appear to be to the Prussian Field Marshall G.L. von Blücher (1742-1819). According to Webster's, a blucher is a "shoe having the vamp and toungemade of one piece and overlapped by the quarters, which lace across the instep." The term began to be used about 1825-35. I'm not sure just how common the term was in America. We see Ward's using it here in 1914. We see here that the term was still being used in Scotland during the 1960s. An American reader writes, "Blucher-style shoes are still very much an item of current men's wear in some of the better shoe stores. I have worn this style ever since I was in college in the 1940s and they are still being sold today by Johnston and Murphy as well as by other makers of quality men's shoes. The style involves leather pieces with eyelets for the laces sewn onto the sides of the shoe so that it can be laced across the instep. See Johnson and Murphy offerings on the internet. The term is still used in the USA." The term may still be in use, but my guess is that few Americans use it.

Footwear Sizes

The footwear sizes are a little difficult to understand. A HBC page will help readers convet hosiery and shoe sizes to chronological ages.


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Created: 7:35 AM 2/17/2005
Last updated: 4:24 PM 2/23/2005