February 26, 2014

Do you know what this is?

The Oskaloosa Herald


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a boot jack.

Several people submitted their guesses to the identity of the artifact.

June Van Haaften wrote via email: “In the Feb. 20 issue it is a picture of a boot remover.

Placing your heel in the V makes it easy to remove your boot.

Dorothy Vos also wrote via email: “The artifact is a boot remover.  Made out of wood, the end prongs allow you to put the heel of your boot in so you can remove your boot easier.”

Dan Kalbach also wrote in his email: “The item pictured appears to be a "boot jack".  These allowed one to insert the upper back portion of a boot heel into the cut-out, while holding the flat portion with the other foot.  A boot could be removed in this manner without having to sit down.  Some were made with a leather lining in the cutout to avoid scuffing the boot, and still others were made of cast iron.”

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “Boot Jack

One of the most basic household helpers on a farm is the Boot Jack. Conveniently placed by the back door, muddy boots and shoes can be removed by sliding the heel into the fork and stepping on the flat brace at the back of the boot jack. This basic wooden jack has been the pattern for many inventors designs.

During the last half of the 19th century, boot jacks were made in cast iron, wood and brass. Over 230 patents have been taken out since 1852 for various designs of boot jacks. Some of the patents were never manufactured, for some only the prototype was made, and many designs were mass produced.

Advertising used many varied mediums to promote businesses.

Boot Jacks were popular advertising and promotional tools. Examples marked “Phelps Dodge & Palmer Chicago,” “Use Musselmans Boot Jack Plug Tobacco,” and “The Glover Boot and Gaiter Jack Paterson NJ” were given away.

The most common boot jack is the “cricket,” with two antennae coming out from the top of the head to form the place for the heel of the boot. Another common form of boot jack is the “Naughty Nellie,” a risqué item in the shape of a woman. The heart is a shape that has been cherished over the generations and is often found in both cast-iron and wooden boot jacks.

Boot jacks are still manufactured today and utilized by many to remove those are to reach muddy boots at the back door.”

The Oskaloosa Herald and the Nelson Pioneer Farm are teaming up to test your knowledge of historical artifacts.

The Nelson Pioneer Farm has about 15,000 artifacts in its collection spanning in age from the 1840s to the present.

The Herald will take a picture of an artifact and publish it in the Herald section of the Oskaloosa Shopper, The Oskaloosa Herald an the Herald's Web site, www.oskaloosa.com. People can make a guess on what they think the object could be.

People can either email their guess to oskynews@oskyherald.com or mail their guess to The Oskaloosa Herald, P.O. Box 530, Oskaloosa, IA 52577. You can vote from Wednesday through Saturday.

The identity of the artifact and the vote breakdown will be announced in each Wednesday's Herald Shopper along with the week's new artifact.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com