This object is a shoe horn used to ease one’s heel into a shoe. The user’s foot is placed into the shoe and the horn placed between the wearer’s heel and the back of the shoe to help slip the foot into the shoe. The implement is called a horn, as in the past they were often made from animal horns.

The end of the shoe horn that is inserted into the shoe is convex and wider than the end or handle by which it is held. To aid people with flexibility issues, long handled versions are available, some of which are adjustable.

Records of shoe horn use dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Queen Elizabeth I is known to have ordered at last 22 of them, four of which were to be made of steel. Other materials that have been used are hooves, glass, ivory, shell, silver, and bone. Currently, metal, plastic, and wood are the most often used materials.

The shoe horn illustrated here looks well used and appears to be made of one slice of horn, or possibly hoof. It may well be a genuine antique. Do you agree?

More information:

Date 1900s, 2010s
Material(s) PlasticMetalWood
Item number MBPO367

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • When did you last use a shoe horn?
  • If you have any shoe horns, what are they made of?
  • Did you buy your shoe horns, or were they provided free with your shoes?
  • Do you use a long handled shoe horn? If so, is this for all shoes?
  • What type of footwear do you find it most difficult to put on?

User Stories

Here is a variety shoe horns

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