Click here to skip to content

Advert for Nubian Blacking, shoe polish

Advert for Nubian Blacking, shoe polish

Printer: Unknown

Medium: Print on paper

Date: 1879

Shelfmark: Evan.4312

Item number: 4312

Genre: Leaflet

Related images

1 2

All outdoor boots and shoes were made from leather in the 19th century, and as such needed polishing to keep them clean. Until the end of the century, shoes were generally made to measure, and the expense involved in having shoes made meant that they had to be kept in very good condition. When not being worn they were filled with paper to preserve their shape, and linseed oil was often rubbed into the leather to keep it smooth.

This particular brand of shoe-polish has a racially suspect name. 'Nubia' was the name given by early French explorers to the region of north-eastern Africa around the huge Nile valley; 'Nubians' were by definition this area's inhabitant. While the word 'Nubian' clearly has always had racial connotations, by the 19th century some of these connotations were outright racist: Nubian was now a slang word in English meaning 'black slave'.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites


Latest events - register free online

Mobile app

For iPhone, iPad and Android

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Email link to a friend

Write a brief note to accompany the email

Your friend's email address: