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Shoe Horn Fun Facts

Published by Nina Mason in Offbeat
February 25th, 2011

Writing about piggy banks made me think of other items that peaked my curiosity.
For this one I will answer, when did the shoe get its horn?

I think everyone knows what a shoe horn is and does but do you know how they began?

Well sit back and let me tell you.

Shoe horns date back to at least the 16th century. Somewhere between 1580 &1590. Some were known to be in 1440 then being called shoeing horns.

Originally shoe horns were made from actual animal horns. Hence the name shoe horns.

Wooden shoe horns

A company named Spreyside horn in Scotland still handcrafts and sells authentic shoe horns. They sell for between £6.50 & £12.00.

Abbeyhorn in Camforth, England still makes them out of oxen and other animal horns.

There is also a shop in New York that sells them ranging from $15 – $120 U.S.

Oxen shoe horns

The animals are not killed for the horns, they are the bi-product of meat that is sold to butchers.

Over time the use of animal horns was greatly reduced and shoe horns were being crafted out of glass or paper. An expensive shoe horn would have been crafted from ivory, silver, shells, animal horn or animal bones including whale bone. Since then shoe horns are commonly made with plastic or metal.

Elizabethan shoes were very tightly fit so shoe horns were necessary in getting the shoes on.

Almost everyone of wealth owned a shoeing horn or shoe horn in the mid 15th century.

Today they are not as commonly used but are much cheaper to buy.

My husband actually bought a shoe horn the other day. This was the first time I had seen someone actually buy one. They used to be sold in with the price of the shoe.

“A Shoemaker’s Verse Testament” written by Lystyne Lordys Verament


By God, By God, By God;

You are good, gather like shoemakers  

  Listen Lords truly
How the shoemaker made his will.
With By God
  He left to Mabb his wife
His paring board, his carving knife
With By God

 He left to his son John
His lasts, his threads
With By God

 He left to his son Tom
His chaspy & his shoeing  horn
With By God

 He left to his son Hyk
His trenket & his turning stick
With By God  

  He left to his son Cok
His stirrup & his footing block
With By God
 He left to his son How
all the bristles of a sow
With By God  

 He left to his daughter Bell
his tallow, his grease, now a bit of sheep
With By God  

 He left to his daughter Anne
his blacking pot & blacking pan
With By God

  He left to his daughter Kat
his nails & his black thumbs
With By God

  He left to his daughter Joan
King Colting’s spoon, & his organ
With By God
 Yes, the shoemaker made his end
He lies in his grave by King Colting
With By God

© Copyright Nina Munroe Mason. 02/25/11

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Liked it
  1. Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Relocating!!! SIGH!

  2. Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

    wonderful share thanks for sharing

  3. Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

    If anyone had told me I would be reading an article on shoe horns, I would have told them they were crazy! Nonetheless, I read your well researched article and received a “horn of plenty” of knowledge. haha

  4. Posted February 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for another great article, Nina.

  5. Posted February 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Hmmmmmh, you got me thinking.

  6. Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:45 am

    When I was a kid, we used to have a simple one made of metal. I don’t own one now, but they were useful for getting stiff dress shoes on.

  7. Posted February 26, 2011 at 8:56 am

    My dad always used a shoe horn. This is a really interesting look at their history.Well done.

  8. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    HAHA thanks Dennis! “horn of plenty” good one! \

  9. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks Larry!
    Thanks everyone :)
    I’m glad Jimmy. I like to make people think and post things most d not think about.

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