Shoe shine chair donated to BI Museum
A new addition to the Buffalo Island Museum is a shoe shine chair donated by Paul Taylor. Mr. Taylor, a long time barber in Monette, retired in March of this year. He donated several items from his barber shop to the museum.
Mr. Taylor bought the shoe shine stand from Aubrey Marshall many years ago. He estimates that the stand is around 85 years old.
Mr. Taylor's children, Lisa and Keith, were the last ones to shine shoes at this chair. They charged 25 cents.
The shoe shine stand has a wooden chair bolted on a wooden box frame with two metal foot stands. A drawer at the bottom held the shoe shining supplies.
As long as there have been shoes, the people wearing them have found ways to care for them. The first basic shoe polish was made from ashes, tallow and beeswax. This made the leather water resistant. Around the 1700s shine or blacking was added to the polish. It was often just black dye added to tallow.
With the start of the industrial revolution, there were more people working and therefore more with shoes. Shoe factories were in full swing and because of this, there was an increase of street corner shoe shine stands, often run by young boys or African American slaves. By the 1900s shoe shiners were at their peak.
In 1906, William Ramsay began manufacturing his new shoe polish. He named this polish Kiwi after his wife who was from New Zealand, home of the kiwi bird. By 1924 his polish was sold in over 50 countries.
During WWI and WWII shoe polish really took off mostly because of all the boots used during the wars. Everyone wanted shiny boots and shoes. There were shoe shine stands in airports, malls, hotels and footwear retailers.
Around 1960, sneakers started to replace boots and dress shoes. We began to seldom see the old shoe shine stand.
Buffalo Island Museum wishes to preserve the past for future generations. Perhaps you once sat in this very chair, put your feet on the foot stands and leaned back while your shoes or boots were being shined.
Admission to the museum is free. We are open from 1-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The museum is having a vintage hat exhibit until the end of September. The annual quilt show is Sept. 27. Make your plans to enter your quilts. For more information, please visit the museum's Facebook page.