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Gildwiller1918

WW1 Era German Boots

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Here are some WW1 Era German boots I just got in, the M1866 Marschstiefel, were also known as Infanterie Stiefel , but Frontsoldaten themselves would call them "Knobelbecher" (Dice-shakers). They are about 16 inches in height and the sole is 11 inches long. It is hard to tell from the pictures but the boots are a very dark brown color. After 1910 the boots were issued as natural brown leather that darkened over time and with use, after 1915, this was changed to dying the boots black. Only drawback is the area where the hobnails would have been is missing on both boots, but will display very well. 

The first few pictures show the condition I got them in, last few are are cleaning and treatment. I use Pecard antique leather dressing, it can be used to clean an re-moisturize old leather, with minimal darkening. 

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Excellent! The heels and heel irons are complete. However, the underlaying soles have been ripped off, you can see the little edge holes where the wooden nails for attaching were. The rows of iron studs were on the missing soles, I have seen this condition on so many examples. The were probably worn after demobilisation for a short time, and the nails removed. The underlying soles were probably worn through and removed, and the boots then discarded or left off. Not everyone wanted to wear nailed boots in civilian life, however, leather soles when unnailed do not last long, esp. when the boot is heavy. To restore these, you would have to add the additional leatther undersoles - I would not recommend a modern shoemaker! As this would look different to what they should look like. Best to get a reliable image and do the repair yourself - using wooden nails, these can still be obtained, and are used by high quality shoe manufacturers, often hand made articles. You can then add the studs using old photos as a guide, as they were arranged in various different patterns! Otherwise, a very nice pair of boots. I also have two pairs, one pair is older, the soles are on, but no studs, the lower layer of the heels and the irons are missing, the rest slightly worn/damaged, I have been wanting to restore these for some time, I would start off with the heels, just need a set of irons. The other pair I have are around 1916, blackened, soles are complete but nails have been removed, would have to be replaced.

Will post photos at a later stage.

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Thanks Fritz, maybe at some point I will get them fixed, finding people here that know how to work on leather is pretty much non-existent. I will look into getting the materials and doing the work myself. The boots should look a little lighter once the leather dressing dries. They were very reasonably priced and could not pass the deal up. 

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You could probably get the leather at a shoemaker's suppliers, the heels are made up of layers of leather nailed together, the last layer fits in between the heel iron. The sole (Laufsohle) is simply a last layer of leather as here in photo. The photo is only a guide and is almost correct, these examples have toe irons, which do not belong here (look like British make), should be studs all round, and one of the heels has a layer of (tyre-) rubber, probably a post-ww2 addition, but otherwise more or less all correct look. Note how the Laufsole ends just before the arch, and the little wooden nails visible between the studs. Picture is just a rough guide only.
You may find tips for shoe/boot repair using leather on youtube, everyday tools should normally be be sufficient, you may need a special shoemaker's last with a long shaft for accomodating boots.
Nails you would probably have to search for in internet, I'm sure they can still be found, however, you would require a fairly large number for 2 soles.
You could also try vacuum cleaning the inside of the boots, check first that nothing is inside! (you never know what you might find), a wipe inside with a wet or damp cloth is also an idea. (WW2 Boots usually had toe irons). Will eventually get around to posting pictures of my own two examples, these, however, are also not quite complete.

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View from the side showing ends of Laufsohlen. The heel iron has broken at one side. See also layers of leather in heel, in prinicpal quite easy to make, note also shape of heel, they get slightly narrower from above to below.

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Thanks Fritz, I did find some vendors that sell the wood nails, and found some videos on how to use them. I just need to get the tools to do the work. I did also find sources for the leather. So it's coming along. Thanks for posting the pictures as well. 

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As you can see, these boots were often subject to front line repairs (workshops) etc., so for the heels, they often used corners and scraps of leather to built up a layer, you can see this when you examine the sides of the heels closely. As well as the wooden nails, a coat of "Leim" (Schuhmacher Leim) was used.

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Here is how the boots look now they are dry, it is hard to tell from the pictures, but they have a dark or chocolate brown look to them. It will take several more treatments, but eventually the leather will be supple again. 

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