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    Auction Finds

    A shoe-display stand? Looks like an easel to me

    Who can tell me what this is, the auctioneer quizzed us auction-goers as we sat staring at the next item up for bid. He was holding a small brass stand with a slanted head that, from where I sat, looked like a simple easel.

    What’s the big deal, I wondered. Then I noticed that this easel did not have a ledge to keep a painting from sliding off. No one offered a guess, and so he told us: It was an antique stand to display shoes.

    I tried to envision how a shoe would even sit on such a slant, but then he mentioned that it was adjustable. That meant the head could be made to lie flat and the shoe placed atop it.

    The front of the shoe-display stand, one of two sold at auction.

    I had never seen one of these before so I was obviously curious. Two people went toe-to-toe for the stand, and I think it sold for no more than $20, more or less. When I inquired about it, the winning bidder (a dealer) told me that it was once used in stores to display women’s shoes. Being a woman, my inner vision went straight to high heels. She said the heel would hang over the back, with the front of the shoe displayed to customers.

    Neat, I thought, but wondered what the market would be for it today. Maybe some woman with a closet full of shoes could display one pair and feel like she was in her own shoe store. Or maybe a retail shoe store could use it as a prop to display some of the thick soled, high-heeled shoes that are the style today.

    I don’t think the stand would work very well – or be as impressive – displaying the flats I tend to wear.

    The adjustable screw can be seen from the back of the display stand.

    The buyer also permitted me to take a closer look at the piece. It was not brass but carved wood covered in what looked like gold paint or gold leaf, and was actually lightweight. In the back was a screw to adjust it. The stand was one of two up for auction that day. The losing bidder on the first managed to outbid the woman on the second one, which was made of a silver metal.

    When I Googled to learn more about the items, my search brought back many photos and links to cast-iron cobbler stands for fixing shoes, not displaying them. I did come across some painted metal stands that were being offered as shoe stands but looked suspiciously like easels. They even had the ledge to hold pictures in place.

    A side view of the shoe display stand showing its base.

    I finally found a stand just like the metal one at auction, and it was selling for $68. It was displayed with a pair of Victorian women’s lace-up boots – with one shoe sitting on the head of the stand (which was flat and not adjustable) and the other on a table near it. That arrangement gave me a pretty good idea of how it was also used.

    Then I found several types of shoe-display stands made out of various materials, both vintage and new: on eBay, one described as a Victorian cast iron shoe (or card) display stand. A wood and silver one described as Art Deco. A two-tiered utilitarian one displaying well-worn men’s shoes, said to be from the 1930s and selling for $415. Metal and Lucite. A wooden one said to hold a pair of children’s shoes.





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