This unique and rare instrument was used more to shame a person and make them very
uncomfortable, rather than to inflict severe pain. It might be used to punish a cobbler
who made poor quality shoes or various other offenses. In its role to shame a person it
was often used in conjunction with the pillory, where the condemned had the boot locked
on their leg and were chained to the pillory, where they would also be the target of rotten
fruit, eggs, etc. They would be forced to stand for long periods of time on the balls of
their feet, for if they relaxed and went down on their heel a spring-loaded spike would
come up through a hole in the bottom and go into their heel. In addition, it is made quite
narrow and would have squeezed the foot, causing even more discomfort. It could also
be used for a prisoner under “house arrest” to prevent him from fleeing. As such it was
the forerunner of modern devices used for the same purpose, but not as humane or high
tech. This example forged of sheets of iron, with the body of the foot consisting of 5
riveted plates, plus the heel. Hinged to the back of the heel is the large plate which
fastened around the prisoner’s calf. This was in turn fastened to a front post by means
of two adjustable hasps on chains and secured with a pair of padlocks. Iron has areas
of heavy corrosion with a few small holes rusted through and has a black-brown patina.
The front post and chains appear to be later restorations, as they are not nearly as
corroded as the remaining parts. Weighs 3 pounds 12 ounces and stands 15″ high.
While we have yet to encounter another example of such a boot, a pair of torture shoes,
for the same purpose and also with spring-loaded spikes below the heels, is pictured in
“The Catalog of Cruelty”, by Steve Santini.