Provenance/Rights: Deutsches Schuhmuseum Hauenstein [CC BY-NC-SA]

Notes From An Appraiser January 2017

Currently, I am working with another personal property appraiser on a large, socially and economically diverse, and geographically wide, donation of shoes being donated to a Shoe Museum in Canada. I am appraising the 19th C shoes from China, some in pairs, some singles and two pair of boots. I am to address fair market value and list any comparable. I also need to address why and how these shoes are different from others in the collection.

None of the shoes have great value, not more than $500, and all are different. They are different shapes, sizes, colors and material. All of the shoes have a lining. Some have rawhide soles (meant to be walked on) and others do not; they are women’s shoes for bound feet (gin-lien).

One pair of the bound feet shoes has embroidered black horse-huff silk cuffs, similar to what is often seen on the sleeves of a robe, slanted on an angle as if walking on tiptoe. A very pretty embroidered pink silk satin pair were the size of my hand, with a slight downward curve for the toes, colorfully embroidered with an open wing detailed butterfly with antenna and specks of color and a very short, but well defined black silk heel. Another was a pair of stiff dark blue and grey satin shoes. The museums’ description reads Cream satin V-shaped gold embroidery at toe in knot design, ‘gin-lien’ shoes with embroidery and applied ribbon designs and continues at length with three more descriptive sentences.

A black flat, silk satin shoe with rawhide sole, similar in style to the black cotton rubber sole shoe easily found in Chinatown, had colorful silk embroidery on the sides, back and toes and appears like an American size 4. The shoe was new, but intended to be walked in. Two pairs of silk and leather embroidered boots are included in the collection. One is green silk brocade, the other red, with mirrors and red and green glass sewn along the leg and top of toe. They both have a ¼” inch thick rawhide layered sole.

All these shoes need to have a value, a discussion as to the style of shoe, and any comparable sales that have been made. The market study included in the report discusses if one color or style is more popular, or rare. Chinese art has been popular in the market, but what about Chinese shoes? Given all of the shoes are different, a discussion regarding soles, embroidered borders, motifs, shapes, age and other features needs to be considered as quality characteristics that can add value to the shoe.

The detailed descriptions within the museum database were substantial. Although these shoes had low monetary value, the amount of ink used for Opinions gave most shoes equal space throughout the collection. The dollar amount paid for the appraisal(s) could equal the value of the shoes. Anyone doing research on Chinese shoes will have an incredible resource available at their hands.