Scrape it off... Just Scrape it off....

I admit that the first time I saw a boot scraper, I didn’t give it much thought…. Really, Who Does? But when four were consigned to our October 30th ‘Total Temptations’ Auction (Here, Here and Here) I found myself thinking of them very much.

Four 18th Century Iron Boot Scrapers

Four 18th Century Iron Boot Scrapers

The more I looked at them, the more I was reminded that great design is effortlessly useful and if it is lucky enough to be timeless, it is because it has remained relevant through its usefulness; and a boot scraper, oh yes, believe me, it is timeless and relevant.

In the last century BC, Roman architect Vitruvius said structures must exhibit qualities of “Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas”, translation…they must be Strong, Useful and Beautiful.

Boot scrapers are examples of this design principle and if you have not encountered one, acquaint yourself; I promise that you will delight at something so simple, beautiful and beyond all that useful.

As we know them, Scrapers emerged in the mid-18th century as practical articles installed outside of homes which were used to scrape the mud, snow, gunk, you name it, off the sole of your shoe before entering a home or business.

There are all sorts of sociological reasons why these developed in the 18th century but the consensus was that no one wanted to tramp muddy and wet shoes onto new carpets, recently refinished wood floors or into the new carriage… not much has changed except the mode of transportation.

Boot scrapers are not your ‘fair weather friends,’ beat them up, get all the gunk off the sole of your shoe; scrape, kick and knock about these articles of useful design, they can take it. Take advantage of the fact that they are ruggedly but beautifully constructed of wrought or cast iron. Scrapers were made to stay outside and be used through all inclement weather. Some, like these found in front of historic buildings were mounted into the very building blocks.

Strong, solid and useful – the underlying qualities of good design which are rest just under foot. These are lofty thoughts to apply to an object made to clean the bottom of your dirtiest shoes but good design overrides a little dirt every time.

Totally tempted by these lots and want to see more?

E. M. Wallace Auctions & Appraisals is excited to present our Total Temptations’ Auction, October 30th at 2:00pm EST where you will have the opportunity to bid and win items for your own fantastic journey. Absentee bidding is open now at and