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Handstitched leather shoe with iron nails in sole and heel [punishment shoe]

Object type

Object number

A handstitched brown leather shoe with iron nails in the sole and heel. The side sections of the shoe have been cut away at ankle, leaving only the back of the heel and the front toe section of the shoe. The front of the shoe has holes for laces at the centre front and narrows to a squared point at the toe. The sole and heel of the shoe appear to be made of layers of leather. The rusted metal nails in the sole are in four rows running from toe to the ball of the foot, while the nails on the heel are placed around the edge of the heel wedge with some in the middle. The side and middle of the heel have deteriorated as well as some of the leather in the toe area. Around the edge of the sole are short cream lines, which appear to be holes filled with a cream substance. The shoe is stitched with a natural-cream coloured thread which has deteriorated in places.

Collection name
Convict Era Shirt collection

Collection statement of significance
The Convict Era Shirt collection comprises six convict era artefacts found at the Commandant's Cottage in Granton, Tasmania during renovations in the 1960s.The collection includes a convict era shirt c.1830, a convict punishment shoe, a Government-issue metal candle holder impressed with a broad arrow mark, a whale oil burning lamp with original convex magnifying lens, a waisted iron axe with an impressed crown over a broad arrow, and a pair of handcuffs marked 'Froggatt Warrented Wrought Iron'.

A secondary punishment station was established at Bridgewater in 1829 to build a causeway across the Derwent. Approximately 200 convicts were employed, in chains, to erect the Commandant's cottage, convict barracks, the Black Snake inn and to break stones to form the foundation of the causeway. This was a difficault and punishing task, and the project was abandoned seven years later uncompleted. The significance of the shirt, as one of only two surviving examples of such a ubiquitous article of clothing, is given added importance due to the circumstances that led to its and the shoe's preservation. The shirt had been placed into a wall cavity and the shoe was placed under the floor. Both items appear to have been deliberately concealed in the cottage by its convict builders as a 'house sacrifice', a folk practice common in England from the 1400s.

Associated place
Granton, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Leather, Metal - non specific

Length: 275mm
Width: 102mm
Height: 55mm

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