Vintage Barney’s Pointe Shoe Finds Safe Home In Maryland

Do you dream of having a great pointe shoe collection one day? Other than owning shoes that have been worn and signed by a world-famous ballerina, many collectors dream of getting their hands on a truly old and rare pointe shoe model.  My oldest pointe shoes date back to the 1980’s; vintage, yes, but not as vintage as a pair from the 1920’s or 1930’s.

Rare Models Of Vintage Ballet Shoes Are Treasures

Collecting very rare and vintage pointe shoes can also be a costly proposition for the average balletomane.  Most of us will never be able to get our hands on these rare finds simply because there are few, if any, left in the world.  Pointe shoes are typically discarded when they get worn out.  Not many of us still have our very first pair, unfortunately. If I had mine, they would now be 42 years old.

Young reader, save your first pair of pointe shoes. Believe it or not, you will get old some day and your ballet shoe brand may cease to exist making it precious and collectible.

Preservation Of The History Of Ballet Is An Important Job

There is good news, however. It costs nothing to look and admire vintage photos and old ballet advertisements! There are wonderful photos of old shoes and ballet stories available to the public through museums and historical societies. One in particular, The Historical Society Of Montgomery County, Maryland, has an amazing gemstone of a shoe verging on antique status.

Precious Ballet Memorabilia In  Montgomery County, Maryland

I was very elated when I discovered that the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Maryland has a wonderful post on their website about a rare vintage pointe shoe brand called Barney’s. The small shoe comes with an inspiring story about the donor and background information about the maker of the Barney’s shoe.

Vintage Barney's Pointe Shoe-Insole Liner

Barney’s maker stamp on insole. If this model is circa 1932, it is now 80 years old. Soon it will move from the vintage category to a genuine antique.

There is another photo of the whole shoe displayed and protected in a little case like a fine museum piece.  You can read the beautiful story attached to this shoe  and see the other photo here : A Little Ballet, 1920’s-30’s Style

Getting  Nostalgic About Vintage Pointe Shoe Advertisements

We can be thankful that there are people in the world dedicated to preserving artifacts of ballet history like old costumes, props and shoes. The old traditions of pointe shoe making and the techniques that cobblers used are kept alive through the work of volunteers, curators and historians. Even old ballet shoe advertisements have been preserved.

If you are older, you will be inspired when you take a trip down memory lane and view these vintage pointe shoe advertisements on Zandance.comScroll down towards the bottom of the page.

You will find old ads for Leo,  Capezio, Selva, Ben and Sally and yes, Barney’s! As usual, I always wonder what happened to some of the pointe shoe brands that disappeared from the ballet world. Why did Barney’s shoe model become obsolete? Did a larger company buy him out? Are there any living descendents of this cobbler that could come forward with more information?

Although we may never find out exactly why Barney’s pointe shoe manufacturing went out of business, it is apparent that they were very popular decades ago. The good news is that at least one fine example of this shoe is being lovingly cared for and protected by The Historical Society Of Montgomery County, Maryland.

If you happen to live near or in the State of Maryland, check out the origins and  behind-the-scenes dedication of the folks who run The Montgomery County Historical Society.

4 responses to “Vintage Barney’s Pointe Shoe Finds Safe Home In Maryland

  1. So true, I never realised how much I would regret not keeping my first pair. They were Bellini’s. I must have gone through about 3 or 4 pairs of this make before switching to Freeds, then Chacotte’s and then Gamba.

  2. I have MANY pairs of Barney’s shoes, pointes and other ballet shoes. They advertised some kinf of unbreakable arch, and judging from the pairs I have, they’re right!

    I treasure my collection of vintage pointes, they’re a little piece of history!

  3. I have a pair of petite black leather pointe shoes I think may have been made for Pavlova not sure the maker is GOLDIE benckmark does anyone know her size?

  4. Pointe Shoe Brands

    Hello Juli,
    According to articles I have read online about her feet, they were narrow with high arches. I have never seen her exact size mentioned.

    You may have a chance by contacting Capezio. They made shoes for Pavlova in 1910 and may still have a record of her shoe size in their archives.

    It may be a long shot, but definitely worth a try.

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