Odds and quads: the Cordwainers College Historic Shoe Collection

These shoes are among 650 pairs that were once used as teaching aids and now comprise the Cordwainers College Historic Shoe Collection.

May 5, 2011

They range from ballet pointe shoes to high heels, and from orthopaedic shoes to theatrical footwear. The earliest item, a leather and silk satin, sequin-embroidered buckle shoe with a finely curved Louis heel, dates to the 1780s.

Those pictured here include a man's knee boot (c.1830), an Opanka shoe worn by a Turkish officer in Syria (1918), a woman's platform clog (c.1975) and a baby's multicoloured trainer (c.1995). The most unusual is a sheep's ankle boot from around 1900, made of sturdy dark brown leather to protect the animal's hoof - although the absence of a supporting heel makes it look somewhat precarious.

Founded in the late 19th century, Cordwainers College is now part of the London College of Fashion in the University of the Arts London.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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