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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They're Gone, But Their Soles Remain

Workers at the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington, Mass., discovered six 18th-century shoes hidden inside a wall.

The shoes, known as concealment shoes, were discovered while the house was being refurbished and reconstructed. They were used to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. These shoes were hidden away in the historic house’s walls with a cartridge box, a child’s corset, a shoe buckle, and a letter dated 1768. [Link, via Boston 1775]
The Northampton (UK) Museum maintains an international index of concealment shoes.
About half the shoes registered in the concealment index are children's shoes. Women's shoes are more common than men's. Shoes are almost invariably well worn, perhaps because the donor didn't want to waste an expensive new shoe on the project, or perhaps because a well-worn shoe is more likely to retain the shape of the wearer's foot and hence his spirit. Though shoes are the common denominator, more than two hundred different personal possessions--coins, spoons, pots, goblets, food, knives, toys, gloves, pipes, even chicken and cat bones--have been found hidden with them. [Link]

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