Jessica Kay Murray | Feb 14, 2016 | 0
Brief History of McKays Shoes
These look like advertisements for two more different shoe companies in St. Louis! I kept seeing the name “McKays”, especially “novelty McKays” shoes, and realized from the context that McKays are not a brand… so I did a little research into the history of footwear, and found some interesting bits of shoe making history.
Apparently the word “McKays” refers to a type of shoe, manufactured with on machines patented by and leased from the United Shoe Machinery Company. The United Shoe Company formed in 1899 as a merger of Goodyear Machinery Company, Consolidated Hand Lasting Machine Company and McKay Shoe Machinery Company. Leasing these shoe making machines allowed manufacturers to get into business at a fraction of the cost of buying a shoe making machine, and United Shoe Machine Company had a virtual monopoly over the shoe manufacturing business until it was broken up in the late 1940s. In the 1960s shoe manufacturing started moving overseas to Asia.
It seems to me that St. Louis shoe manufacturers advertising “McKays” leased the shoe making machines from the same corporation (United Shoe Machinery Company), and customized the styles, patterns, material, and service to fit their customers’ tastes.
Below are two advertisements by two 1924 St. Louis shoe manufacturers, John Meier Shoe Company and Capitol Shoemakers:
Links to sites that I found informative when researching what McKays Shoes are:
- http://www.jstor.org/stable/1820095 – the first antitrust case (in which United Shoe Machinery Company won, in 1913)
- The United Shoe Machinery Company
- Richard Roe
- Journal of Political Economy
- Vol. 21, No. 10 (Dec., 1913) (pp. 938-953)
- Page Count: 16
- http://www.cummings.com/history.html – Beverly Massachusetts factory building history, but with an easy to read history of the United Shoe Machinery Company.
- http://people.seas.harvard.edu/~jones/mckay/article.html – how Harvard University is linked to McKays Shoes (he died and left Harvard his 16 million dollar fortune, one of the biggest single gifts to a university to date, when adjusted for inflation).
- http://www.centuryinshoes.com/decades/1920/1920_02.html – a general history of shoe making in the 1920s