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Article by Kay Collins, from papers kindly loaned by Gerald Sanders
Fine Art Shoe Company

In the days following the end of the First World War the three companies, Sanders & Sanders Ltd, C W Horrell and George Selwood & Co, began to discuss what they might do in order to increase trade. They had increased their workforce, along with machinery, to cope with the huge demand during the War to keep the armies well shod. Now there was no army contract work and new orders were desperately needed to keep their workers employed. It was decided to create a new company to make shoes for a new clientele – the gentlemen and noblemen – to make and sell the finest shoes they could. The decision was made to open an office in London.

On January 20th 1921 Articles of Association were signed by William Benjamin Sanders and Charles William Horrell and the Fine Art Shoe Company Ltd began trading. The directors of the company were:-

Charles William Horrell Harry Bernard Selwood
William McCarthy Horrell William Benjamin Sanders senior
George Selwood William Benjamin Sanders junior  
Frank Joseph Sharwood Thomas Sanders

Four companies were in the association; Sanders & Sanders Ltd, C W Horrell, Geo Selwood & Co and Victoria Leather Company (begun by Sanders Brothers at Higham Ferrers). In order to advertise the finest shoes they decided to produce the finest catalogue and to equate their shoes to the finest pictures in the art world. They leased a property at 150 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 where they established offices dealing worldwide.

But the economic climate following the War was not the time for people to spend their money on exclusive footwear and when they realised they were trading a loss, it was decided in 1925 to go into voluntary liquidation. The accounts were finalised in August 1927 and showed that the three main companies had each put in a loan of £2,000 in an effort to keep the company afloat. A fall in the exchange rate of monies banked in France realised only about one fifth of the actual trade value.

The four companies all survived this disastrous event, and all continued to trade successfully and were ready to make supplies for the armies of England once again when the need came in the Second World War.

The Catalogue

Why Fine Art Shoe Company?

As in the old days the Fine Arts were represented by the works of the Old Masters, so
the modern ‘Fine Art Shoe’ is made by the master craftsmen of the present century.

Rushden Echo, 28th January 1921, transcribed by Kay Collins

The Fine Art Shoe Co. (Rushden), Ltd., a private company, has been registered, with a capital of £1,000 in £1 shares. The first directors are: C. W. Horrell, W. B. Sanders, senr., W. McK. Horrell, G. Selwood, F. J. Sharwood, H. B. Selwood, W. B. Sanders, junr., and T. Sanders, all of Rushden. Qualification £10. Solicitor, Mr. C. W. Wing, Rushden.

The present works

of the Fine Art Shoe Co. are the largest and most efficiently equipped in the Kingdom. They are fitted with most up-to-date machinery and are cheerful within and pleasant without. Their situation at Rushden, near NORTHAMPTON, makes available all the best labour in high-class bootmaking.

During the Great War all our factories were employed in turning out boots for the Army, Navy and Allies by the million, and the production gave the greatest satisfaction to both officers and men.

In compiling this catalogue

it has been our endeavour to invest it with an atmosphere of artistic interest in addition to faithfully illustrating in its pages our business productions. As a setting for our manufactures we have reproduced in their original colours a small selection from the paintings of the great masters—those supreme craftsmen to whose works time but brings an increase of beauty and a larger measure of admiration and appreciation.

In the manufacture of footwear for gentlemen and their sons (to which we bring the experience of fifty years) we have kept the higher ideal in view, that our productions should have, in addition to the finest wearing qualities, a style and elegance that places them in the realm of art.

Every detail in the manufacture of "FINE ART" footwear is under expert supervision.  Discriminate care is shown in the selection of raw material; scrupulous regard is paid to thoroughness, and nothing but good-wearing qualities are allowed to be used.

The models of footwear reproduced in the following pages do not represent the whole of our manufactures but are actual photographs of a few of the leading lines we are shipping daily to all parts of the world.

The Fine Art Shoe Co.

WE have spared no expense, nor pains in the compilation of this Catalogue, believing as we do that if a thing is worth doing it is worth doing well. That is the principle upon which we conduct our business, and the reliance which our customers place in us is gratifying proof of the soundness of this policy.

WE are, of course, delighted to have personal visits whenever possible; but however great the distance that may separate us from our customers, we enter upon our part of a transaction with every confidence - because we make no claims we cannot substantiate, and we devote all our energies to turning out goods warranted to give the utmost satisfaction to the purchaser.

The Fine Art Shoe Co.

Rushden Echo, 28th January 1921, transcribed by Kay Collins

BOOT ORDER—As we suggested in last Friday's "Rushden Echo," some promising inquiries from various sources were followed up by a fairly substantial order for 50,000 pairs of boots. They will be of a cheap kind, made of semi-chrome box, bals, open tabs, and Derbies. They are for a Continental destination, and are to be completed by February 9th. About 20 Rushden firms are participating, the order having been secured by the Rushden Fine Art Shoe Co., Ltd. On inquiry this morning we learn that there are no new orders, but several inquiries have been made.

Rushden Echo, 20th April 1928, transcribed by Kay Collins

A Meeting of creditors of the Fine Art Shoe Co. (Rushden) Ltd., has been called for April 30th at the offices of Messrs Sanders and Sanders, Spencer-road, Rushden. It is stated that all the creditors have been or will be paid in full.

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