WHERE DOES THE SHOE SHINING TRADITION COME FROM?

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walter blog bicycle

Someone once wrote that shoe shining was more a sport of kings than horse racing ever was. Quips aside it is true that royalty throughout centuries have ordered the perfect shine and satiny sheen for their shoes and woe-be-tide for the cobbler who falls short of this expectation on any delivery. In today’s context shoe shining is a chore for many. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was considered an art that brought great pleasure for those who owned even a single pair of shoes that were polished to mirror like perfection.

The evolution of shoe polish has many interesting twists. From royalty to gentry and now to common man, from tallow, lanolin, beeswax and soot to technically inspired shoe polish varieties of today shoe shining is a skill that has been passed down from father to son for generations past. In the past shoe shiners experimented with different products to soften, waterproof and polish natural leather. Yet it is thanks to William Ramsay’s history changing invention in shoe polishing that chaps all around the world today can enjoy the highest gloss finish for shoes.

In the beginning of the 19’s century, commercial shoe polishing products were basic products primarily based on tallow, sugar, black dye and vinegar. These shoe polishes were good for blacking but did not produce the fine shine of today’s calibre of shoe polish products. Polish made out of suspended solids and various liquid forms such as wax, naphtha, lanolin, carbon dye and turpentine had one major defect.

Walter blog shoe shine

The blacking was extended from shoes to hem of pants even at lightest contact. Later they have evolved in greater varieties and brands incorporating many value added benefits of waterproofing, softening and conditioning leather.

Walter blog shoe shine

The outbreak of WW I and II turned the art of ‘spit and polishing’ shoes from a mere fashion into a major skill that showcased manliness. The military guarded shoe shining tactics just as they guarded a Code 7 top secret. A cadet’s arsenal invariably contained a shoe shining kit including shoe polish, leather cleaner and shoe shine brushes. Today a chap has the advantage of shining their shoes to military perfection without the benefit of closely guarded shoe shining secrets.

Presently Walter’s Shoe Care is the only shoe shine company to offer its services in Toronto’s Pearson Airport and Montreal Airport. Serving an elite clientele comprising Prime Ministers, important dignitaries to hundreds of passengers daily commuting through Toronto Pearson it is the only professional family owned shoe shine company with a long-standing commitment for proven excellence in the region. ‘We give everyone’s shoes a great shine whether they are famous or not’. Shoe trends and styles will come and go but with Walter’s Shoe Care products you can always look forward to reviving timeless quality and ritual of guaranteed shoe shine. It is a tradition that will be passed down from family to family, Walter’s Shoe Care to yours.

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