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Shoelaces, Splendour and Shakespeare

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1350994.  Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:01 am Reply with quote

Shoelaces or laces are a common occurrence in daily life. We don't think about them much, or at least I didn't. Until I wanted to figure out what the hardened ends of shoelaces are called and I discovered that throughout history they have played in important role.

These hardened ends are known as aglets. It derives from the Middle French aguillette, a dimunitive for aguille meaning needle or pin. It can be traced further back via Old French and Gallo-Latin to Late Latin acucula 'ornamental pin, pine needle' the dimunitive of acus meaning 'needle or pin'. The first recorded use of aglet dates from the 14th century, where it is meant as the plain or ornamental tag covering the ends of a lace or point'. [Meriam Webster online dictionairy]

Nowadays aglets are usually made from a plastic or a metal and are generally ignored until they break or are lost and your lace starts to fray. However, aglets have been in use for centuries. The ancient romans are believed to have used aglets made of glass, metal or stone to keep their laces from fraying. Records from Day Books kept by Mary Scudamore, one of the Gentlewomen of the Privy, late 16th century, notes that Queen Elizabeth I lost several precious aglets, for instance gold aglets.
But they were also used by common people. Brass aglets have been found at archeological sites of playhouses where they may have been lost by audience members. It is also possible that aglets were lost during quick changes of the actors when the tugging on the laces could have caused one ot lossen. The idea of cutting the aglets of to quickly loosen the string and relief women in discomfort is offered in Shakespeare's [/quote]Antony and Cleopatra. There is no evidence that the cutting off of the aglets was used for quick changes, it appears a good option. [Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and its Meanings by Tara Hamling, Catherine Richardson].

Besides their functional role, aglets were also used as decorations and embellishments to clothing in the early 17th century [Jamestown Rediscovery]. King HenryVIII (16th century) wore decorational aglets on his caps and jewelry. It is listed in the 1528 inventory that he owned two crimson velvet bonnets, one with 12 pairs of aglets and another with 36 pairs [A History of Jewellery, 1100-1870 by Joan Evans].

A copper alloy aglet is part of the Jamestown collection and is thought to date from the early 17th century. Aglets were occassionally used to attach pieces of garment to each other. It is this that Shakespeare might be referring to in his Twelfth Night. [quote]In Act 1 Scene 5, the clown or fool Feste declines to explain why he has been away from his home and employment for so long. Resigned to accept his punishment he claims, “I am resolved on two points”, and Maria replies, “That if one break the other will hold; or if both break, your gaskins fall.” In this case gaskins are loose breeches, likely held up by a tie or lace reinforced by the strength of aglets.'

Do you have any other facts or ideas about shoelaces, splendour, and how Shakespeare might have referred to shoelaces?

1355392.  Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:19 am Reply with quote

So shoe related fact. The most expensive pair of sneakers were sold at auction this year in May for $560,000 (USD). They were a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s, that belonged to Michael Jordan and were wore in 1985. The shoes are two different sizes, left size 13 and right size 13.5, as the shoes were made to order and that is what he preferred. Jordan also signed the shoes. My favourite way to introduced this info would be “How much would you pay for a pair of shoes that don’t match?”

1366630.  Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:14 am Reply with quote

Marullus: ...You, sir, what trade are you?

Second Commoner: Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but, as you would say, a cobbler.

Marullus: But what trade art thou? Answer me directly.

Second Commoner: A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.

Marullus: What trade, thou knave? Thou naughty knave, what trade?

Second Commoner: Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.

Marullus: What meanest thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy fellow!

Second Commoner: Why, sir, cobble you.

Flavius. Thou art a cobbler, art thou?

Second Commoner: Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl: I meddle with no tradesman's matters, nor women's matters, but with awl. I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I recover them. As proper men as ever trod upon neat's leather have gone upon my handiwork.

Flavius: But wherefore art not in thy shop today? Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?

Second Commoner: Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But, indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph.

William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Act I, Scene 1


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