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Subject: Baby shoes

Baby shoes

From: Amy Forsyth <aforsyth>
Date: Friday, July 31, 1998
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My husband was recently given a pair of baby shoes that belonged to
his namesake, his father's uncle.  The shoes were a present to him
on his first birthday, sometime between 1890 and 1900.  The shoes
are in excellent condition, with fading and dry leather being the
major problems that I can see.  We'd like to keep them in good
condition so that we may pass them on to our children, but we'd also
like to be able to use them on special occasions like Christenings.

I, my husband and mother all sew (everything from costuming to
leather gloves to embroidery), we can tell that the shoes are in
pretty good condition, but we don't know how to take care of
something that is this old.

What do we need to do to preserve these shoes?  (I'm not even sure
of the difference between preservation and conservation, so I don't
really know which one I'm really asking to do.)

The shoes are originally from the New York/New Jersey area, but we
live near Houston, TX.  What problems should I look out for due to
the change in environment?  What can I do to prevent the problems?

The construction of the shoes:
Soles:  Leather:  fairly thin, very dry but not cracked, still
flexible. Looks like it could be pigskin. What can I do to restore
some moisture to the leather?  or would doing such cause further
damage?  How would we protect the body of the shoe while treating
the soles?

Outer body:   Satin with embroidery.  The satin may have originally
been baby blue in color, now it's greys with some blue tints.  The
edges of the satin body around the top and around the sole are cased
with white satin binding, faded to off white.  The embroidery is in
ok condition (the threads are not really loose, but they are
probably the most delicate items on the shoes), they'll last if not
abused, also faded. The shoes have been stored flat.  In the areas
where the satin folds the threads look a touch strained, more faded
than the rest and you can make out individual threads, with none
broken; it seems to be in basically good condition. Is there a way
to clean the satin?  Should we even try?  or would doing so mess up
the polish of the satin?

Inner body:   Loose weave linen.  Seems to be in excellent
condition.
Insole:   Felt.  Fairly thick.  When combined with the leather it
makes an excellent sole for the shoe; stable, but flexible.

We've been marveling at the construction of the shoes; we know that
they're handmade.  I know that I need to stuff them with something
so that they will hold their shape during storage, but I don't know
what else to do with them to protect them. Any advice would be
greatly appreciated.

Amy Forsyth
Jacinto City, TX -- Near Houston, TX

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:14
                   Distributed: Friday, July 31, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-14-009
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Received on Friday, 31 July, 1998

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