Oh, Please, Make It Rayne!

Let the heavens open wide and pour shoes with Wedgwood heels!

Yes, shoes with heels made of Wedgwood jasper, some even trimmed with Wedgwood cameos. Jasperware high heels were the idea of Sir Michael Rayne of the H&M Rayne shoe company, who’d made footwear for several generations of the British Royal Family, including the royal wedding shoes for Queen Elizabeth II.

These shoes are hard to find, even on eBay — and with the matching handbag? Yikes! No matter the year, color, or style, a pair of Wedgwood heeled shoes by Rayne will sell for at least two hundred dollars; with the handbag, you’re talking like $600.

At those prices, you don’t care how much it could hurt getting hit by shoes falling from the sky; you’ll take the bruises and run out to catch as many as you can!

As for damages to the shoes, I imagine the leather fares far worse in the fall — and even the general wear — than the heels. According to the Wedgwood Museum, the strength of the jasper was of concern to R&D:

The company’s in-house magazine, ‘Wedgwood Review’, in November 1958 extolled – ‘Mr. Edward Rayne famous shoe manufacturer, is always good for a surprise. This time it is shoes, some with heels made of jasper and some trimmed with Wedgwood cameos.’ The entry went on to describe how – ‘Exhaustive trials, long to be remembered…were necessary before the first perfect batch was delivered hot from the oven to H&M Rayne. Within a few days they had been made up and were on their way to a special fashion show in America.’ The heels and cameos were produced in pale blue, and sage green with white bas reliefs. Rayne revealed their ‘Wedgwood Collection’ at the New York’s Plaza Hotel, and also at the National Shoe Fair held in Chicago during October 1958.

… [The] original 1958 Rayne shoe features a small, round, white on pale blue jasper cameo, with the head in bas relief of a vestal. The stiletto heel bas relief is of ‘Hebe and the Eagle’ surrounded by a laurel wreath.

But not all the Wedgwood heeled shoes are from 1958. Different styles debuted in 1959 — and the winter of 1977, Wedgwood and Rayne briefly reintroduced the jasper shoe heels in new, vibrant shades of primrose, pale blue, sage green and lilac. These were launched in the USA in January 1978, as shown in this page from the March issue of that year’s Vogue.

If you have a pair of vintage Rayne shoes with Wedgwood heels that you’d like repaired, (or, as shown above in the eBay past sales image, the jasper Wedgwood heels occasionally show up for sale, without shoes), you’ll want to find an expert cobbler to attach the heels to another pair of shoes. As Jaynie writes:

It is important for any shoe repairs that you must establish that the person doing any repairs on your vintage shoes is indeed familiar with vintage shoes. New glues, dyes etc. may react with the vintage materials, creating new problems. That not only means more money for more repairs, but in fact may ruin or ‘total’ the shoes.

Image credits: Vintage Wedgwood Jasperware women’s shoes in green via rocknbar; the 1959 version in high-contrast blue and white via the Wedgwood Museum; photo of Wedgwood Jasperware High Heels with Rayne Box from the collection of Replacements LTD; scan of Rayne Wedgwood shoes in Vogue March 1978 via Vintage Chic.

Julia Marlowe, Selling Stuff From Head To Toe

My mom has listed these pair of Julia Marlowe boots.

Julia Marlowe (August 17, 1865 – November 12, 1950) was a famous stage actress.

But why would a famous Shakespearean actress lend her name to a shoe? Was she just a heel? *wink*

The best I can do share the following tantalizing tidbits…

One, as for the shoes specifically, in 1903 Marlowe was a big hit in Ingomar, prompting The New York Sun to say, “There is not a woman player in America or in England that is – attractively considered – fit to unlace her shoe.”

A lovely compliment bestowed to Marlowe that no doubt had Milwaukee’s Rich Shoe Company thinking Marlowe was a shoe-in for sales and that they’d make a lovely pair.

Two, then, as now, celebrities liked to make money by endorsing products. In Testimonial Advertising Using Movie Stars in the 1910s: How Billie Burke Came to Sell Pond’s Vanishing Cream in 1917, Leslie Midkiff DeBauche writes:

A survey of the advertising in the Ladies’ Home Journal shows that in the 1890s spokespersons were usually woman, mainly in their thirties or forties. They included actresses, like Julia Marlowe who was in her thirties and had gained prominence performing in respectable Shakespearean repertoire. She endorsed a shirt waist made by Schlesinger & Mayer (Advertisement 1898, 36), Freeman’s Face Powder (Advertisement 1900, 37), a book entitled “A Bride and a Brindle,” with its attendant engravings (Advertisement 1903, 43) and both “Julia Marlowe” shoes and oxfords made by the Rich Shoe Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, (Advertisement 1897, 42).

(I so want that vintage face powder to add to my collection!)

So it’s one, two, sell that shoe!

If you’re as fascinated as I am, look for more Julia Marlowe collectibles!

Image Credits:

Photos of Julia Marlowe shoes via No Egrets Antiques (my parents).

Julia Marlowe Eureka Craddock’s Medicated Blue Soap Playing Card, circa 1903, via Things & Other Stuff.

Julia Marlowe shoe ad, 1897 Sear’s catalog, via Funky Boutique.

Other antique photos of Julia Marlowe from NYPL Digital Gallery.