A wonderful antique hardwood Cordwainer’s or Cobbler’s shoe last hinged at one end.
Lasts are tools which are shaped like a foot and used to make shoes and boots. The word last comes from the old English word ‘laest’ which means footprint. Although these are usually referred to as ‘cobbler’s lasts’, historically, cobblers were not allowed to make new footwear. Cordwainers, a different guild and profession altogether, were the only ones permitted to use new leather to make new footwear leaving cobblers to use only old leather usually to make repairs to shoes and boots.
I’m not sure whether this unusual last was made for a cobbler or a cordwainer as its design is quite unusual. It has been designed as the front part of the foot rather than the whole foot and this would suggest that it was made for mules or slippers or perhaps for cobblers use as a last for repairs.
It is also unusual since it has a hinge at the back which allows it to open up at the front and there are numerous holes along its edges.
This antique curio is made from heavy hardwood, probably oak, and measures approx. 18.5cm x 7.5cm x 7cm. It is in good condition with wear to the toe end as shown in the photos. The hinge is quite rusty and the whole object has a wonderful, aged patina.
A lovely old curio great for displaying on a coffee table or shelf.