Shaped Rubber Heels from 1908

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Shoes have been a hot item for quite some time. There are running shoes, walking shoes, hiking shoes, calf muscle strengthening shoes, shoes that encourage better posture and balance, and a custom shoe style for nearly every type of activity. I discovered a number of interesting advertisements when browsing through a newspaper (from around 1908) and I’ll be sharing a few of them here.

This particular advertisement is for O’Sullivans Shaped Rubber Heels which are purported to increase your walking powers 100%. Unlike the Claxton Ear-Cap (to prevent ugly ears), rubber heels continue to be an item that are sold in today’s shoe repair stores. Check out the ad image below…

rubber shaped heels

The ad copy below the image of the rubber heel reads… for the simple reason that your nerves will be entirely spared the jarring shocks, constantly recurring, of hard leather meeting harder road, which are the prime cause of foot weariness. Their elasticity gives grace to your step and longer life and preservation of shape to your footwear. They are made of only the finest and purest rubber and shaped to fit any heel.

Thought it was interesting that these heels were being produced by the B.F. Goodrich Co., which today is probably most popularly known for producing automobile tires. I’m sure a number of people still have similar rubber heels added to their dress shoes today, but that market has pretty much been eclipsed by fitness shoe companies like Nike and Adidas. There is also the industry of orthotics (for inside of the shoe) and custom foot scanning, a practice a number of athletic shoe retailers have began participating in.