Glass shoe is a generic term for any figural shoe (or slipper, boot, ice skate, etc.) made of glass, ceramic, or metal. Some examples are utilitarian in nature, e.g., the Atterbury shoe night lamp or the ruby glass cocktail shaker in the shape of a leg and foot wearing a metal sandal. Most were made for purely decorative purposes.
Shoes were extremely popular during the Victorian era, when household bric-a-brac from toothpick holders to pincushions to salt cellars were made in the form of footwear. Once the glass shoe entered the form vocabulary, it never went out of production. There was a lull during the Depression, when few families had money for non-essential items.
Several contemporary glass companies including Boyd, Degenhart, Fenton, and Moser have reproduced early designs and introduced new ones. Thanks to several new books on the subject, glass shoes are enjoying a collecting renaissance.
References: “Earlene Wheatley, Collectible Glass Shoes: Including Metal, Pottery Figural & Porcelain Shoes,” Collector Books, 1996, 1998 value update; Libby Yalom, Shoes of Glass, 2, Antique Publications, 1998.
by Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”