Inside the Collection

Enoch Taylor shoe gauge

Enoch Taylor Show Gauge
Collection, Powerhouse Museum

Now that we have solved the Earoscope, it’s time for a new mystery object!

What you see above is part of a new acquisition from the Enoch Taylor & Co shoe archive.

From 1851-1970s, Enoch Taylor & Co specialised in the importation and manufacture of men’s, women’s and children’s shoes, first in Melbourne and then Sydney. From the 1970s they were exclusively producing boots and heavy duty footwear, including the T-Boot, at their Sydney warehouses. The company was managed by the Lee family from 1926-2004 and today it continues to operate in the hands of new owners.

The acquisition includes accounts ledgers, letterbooks, trademark certificates, photographs and shoes (both the finished product and those showing the different stages of shoe production), as well as this peculiar object.

Enoch Taylor Show Gauge
Collection, Powerhouse Museum

So, what is it…?

Well, there are six separate metal pieces (five are made of brass) attached by a removable hinge and each piece is inscribed, as follows:

2. ‘3. 25. 40.’ on one side and ‘1 / 8’ and ‘86’ on the other
3. ‘3. 25. 40.’ on one side and ‘1 / 9’ and ‘STD’ on the other
4. ‘3. 25. 40’ on one side and ‘1 / 12’ and ‘STD’ on the other
5. ‘3. 25. 40’ on one side and ‘2 / 32’ and ‘STD’ on the other
6. ‘3. 25. 40’ on one side and ‘3 / 32’ and ‘STD’ on the other

The positioning of the grooves at the end of each metal piece is slightly different, which makes us think that this was possibly a gauge used for measuring the thickness of some part of a shoe, possibly the sole or leather used in the vamp or tongue? But, why would anyone need to know this?

Collection, Powerhouse Museum

Perhaps the inscription ‘ARMY STANDARD’ has something to do with it? This suggests that the object may have, in fact, been used as a device for ensuring that the strict army specifications placed on army boots were met, but what exactly were these specifications and how should we interpret those inscribed numbers mentioned above?

Has anyone seen anything like this before? I know of similar gauges to this used in the automotive industry, but have been unable to find examples for shoes. It’s over to you…

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