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Clothing and Dress > Sports footwear

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Clothing and Dress > Shoes

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Spiked kangaroo skin running shoes, 1948
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Object statement
Running shoes (pair), kangaroo skin / cowhide / steel / cotton, Hope Sweeney, Melbourne, Australia, 1948
These spiked shoes were made in 1948 by the shoemaker Hope Sweeney of Melbourne who was well known and highly regarded by athletes at that time. They are constructed of cowhide soles, kangaroo skin uppers, and steel spikes. Sweeney would personally measure the athlete's feet and draw a careful outline, so that the shoe was a precise fit. This eliminated any slippage between foot and shoe during a sprint. The fit was so close that the shoes could only be endured for the duration of the race.

Spiked shoes for running were developed in 1852 and in the early 1890s both Spalding and J.W. Foster and Sons (now known as Reebok) featured spiked footwear in their range. The first athletics meeting in 1868 (Nov 11) in the U.S.A. saw the introduction of spiked running shoes. Four competitors used them in seven events. This pair of leather spiked running shoes is very similar in design to Adi Dassler's (Adidas) early spiked shoes. Within the context of modern athletic shoe development, the shoes are significant as they exemplify the early innovations of sporting footwear using the technology and ideological application of enhancing sporting performance available at that time.

Since very early times, human competitive spirit has compelled people to improve their athletic prowess. The development of footwear that would enhance running can be traced back to the ancient games when contestants participated barefoot. As the Greek empire expanded, athletes from colder climates competed in races wearing sandals. Initially, the sandal wearing athletes were treated as a parochial novelty but as shod athletes began winning races, they were viewed with suspicion and branded as cheats. Purpose designed footwear was finally adopted when it was found that shoes actually increased traction and improved running action.
'The spikes were made in 1948 (when I was 18) by the shoemaker Hope Sweeney of Melbourne who was well known and highly regarded by athletes at that time. They are constructed of cowhide soles, kangaroo skin uppers, and steel spikes. Sweeney would personally measure one's feet and draw a careful outline, so that the shoe was a precise fit to eliminate any chance of slippage between foot and shoe during a sprint. In fact, the fit was so close that the shoes could only be endured for the duration of the race!' Jim Moon 14/9/1998
Jim Moon had two pairs, a rough pair for training and this pair for competition for a period of five years. Running was in the family and his uncle ran in the British Empire Games. Running spikes were discontinued in the 1960s when grass tracks were replaced by synthetic surfaces, for which long spikes were quite unsuitable.

Article in the Mercury Newspaper 7/11/1998, p36:
'The first athletics meeting in 1868 (Nov 11) in the U.S.A. saw the introduction of spiked running shoes. Four competitors used them in seven events.'

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Running shoes (pair), kangaroo skin / cowhide / steel / cotton, Hope Sweeney, Melbourne, Australia, 1948

Pair of running shoes of soft kangaroo skin, unlined, black suede interior with lacing centre front vent. Six very sharp steel spikes implanted in sole under ball of foot and toes. Cowhide sole rigid to toe joint, soft to back heel indicating that the athlete ran on his toes. Very narrow minimal sole leading back to heel.

Made: Melbourne, Victoria; 1948
2007/196/1
Production date
1948

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of Mr Jim Moon, 2007
Subjects
+ Sport
+ Athletics
+ Sports equipment
Short persistent URL
Concise link back to this object: http://from.ph/373286
Cite this object in Wikipedia
Copy and paste this wiki-markup:

{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/373286 |title=Spiked kangaroo skin running shoes |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=22 October 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


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