Fig. 42. This sole of a small shoe, possibly a woman’s platform shoe called a "chapin," is typical of Spanish-style shoes popular in the 1540s.
Eight fragments of leather were recovered during excavation of the main mast step. The three largest pieces are the remains of shoes; each piece exhibits stitching holes along its outer edge, and many of the holes retain traces of the original thread that secured parts of the shoe (Bratten 1995). According to a study by David Breetzke (1995), the leather fragments are cow hide, that were probably tannin treated. Shoes represented by the three fragments were either of turnshoe, or of turn-welt, construction. The first is one of the oldest methods of shoemaking: the shoe is made wrong side out; after stitching, the shoe is turned right side out and reshaped for finishing. Turn-welt construction was a transitional point between the turnshoe and the welted shoe; the turnshoe is made with an extra wide rand (strip of leather) sewn in the seam so that this becomes a welt to which a first sole, or later repair sole, can be stitched.
Shoe fragment 07,701 is the sole of a small shoe or mule, with four stitches per cm.. The number of stitches per centimeter can indicate the quality of craftsmanship and the price of the shoemaker’s product (Cliff Pequet to D. Breetzke, pers. comm., April 1995). Lacking a heel, the sole is comparable in size to a modern woman’s 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 b shoe. According to June Swann, a consultant on the history of shoes and shoemaking, the sole may have belonged to a woman’s or girl’s platform shoe, known as a “chapin,” of typical Spanish style (J. Swann to David Breetzke, 15 April, 1995).
Shoe fragment 07,799 is part of a shoe sole broken across the tread (the area of greatest wear). At the other end, the sole has been cut just in front of the seat (rear end of the sole where the heel rests). The straight cut suggests a repair to the shoe. Two of the outer edges of the sole seam are turned over, with what appears to be a fragment of the rand surviving. The sole has three to four stitches per cm.
Fig 43. Part of a shoe sole broken across the tread. This straight cut may indicate a repair.
Shoe fragment 08,809 is from a larger shoe or boot, either part of a vamp (front upper section) which was originally square with rounded corners, or part of a heel. Wear marks suggest that it was worn on the left foot. This fragment has four to five stitches per cm.
Fig. 44. A large shoe or boot fragment, with four to five stitches per cm., indicating that it was quality footwear.
Prior to the discovery of these shoe fragments, the earliest recorded European footwear found in North America was represented by the shoe remains recovered from the Basque ship, San Juan, which sank in Red Bay, Labrador in 1565 (J. Swan to David Breetzke, 14 February, 1995).
The remaining leather fragments consist of small pieces of various thickness and texture. One fragment appears to be felt and another, recovered from the port pump well, may be a remnant of the sump pump’s flapper valve (Bratten 1995).