Saddle Shoes: Types

Figure 1.--This American image is unidentified, nor so we know when the snapshot was taken. It is a good example of the blucher. Note that the black saddle is two unconnected pieces.

There are two basic types of saddle shoes, blucher and balmoral styles. I nam not sure why these names were chosen. Both blucher and balmoral styles are made in more types of oxfords than just saddle shoes. A reader tells us, "Most of the saddle shoes you see on little boys are bluchers, while you see both types on girls." We do not yet have sufficent information to make any gender or age assessments concerning the two types, nor do we know how they varied chronologically.


Blucher describes the style of shoe manufacture. Saddle shoes make it easier to describe, the colored part of the saddle is made of two pieces that do not meet at the bottom of the laces. The toe or vammp and tongue are one continuous piece of leather. The quarters lap over the vamp but are separate and do not meet. The name of course related to Prussian General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. Blücher like Wellington had a boot named after him. The construction of Blücher avaiable in the early 20th century. The image here is an example of a Blücher (figure 1).


The alternate style is bal, or Balmoral where the saddle in one piece of leather that is connected a the bottom of the laces, and the tongue is a separate piece. Balmoral was a style of laced shoe and half boot that had closed throats. This style became known as Balmorals because Prince Albert helped to make them popular in the 19th century. Balmoral was of course the country retreat that he built for his wife Queen Victoria who was enchanted with Scotaland. Balmoral does not refer to the saddle style, but rather the style of shoe itself. Balmoral was a closed front laceup shoe or short boot which had the vamp wings extended on both sides which formed a golash. The term "Balmoral" shoe or boot was first used in 1851. The term Balmoral was commonly used in the mid and late Victorian era (second half of the 19th century) and after the turn of the century during the Edwardian era. [Podiatry] This is why some American mabufacturers refer to an English bal or Balmoral which will of course sound strange to English and Scottish readers. We note American manufacturers like J.B. Lewis using the term in the 1880s, but for shoes in general.

Relative Popularity

A reader tells us, "Most boys that I remember seeing wearing saddle shoes during the 1940s and 1950s wore the Blücher type. There were exceptions, such as a Pennsylvania boy in 1947 whose portrait HBC has archived. He is wearing Balmoral type saddle shoes with white soles."


Podiatry web site, accessed March 26, 2005.


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Created: 12:44 AM 3/19/2005
Last updated: 7:25 PM 3/26/2005