The elegance of shoe polish

In his “Il demone della frivolezza” (Sellerio, Palermo 2016), writer Giuseppe Scaraffia claims “polishing your shoes is a ritual of painstaking elegance, that transcends – as Charles Baudelaire prescribed – the highs and lows of life.”

Scaraffa notes Thomas Mann always wore perfectly shined shoes, and Musil considered “keeping shoes well polished an absolute necessity.”

“As André Gide said,” he adds, “you can know a person more precisely and in depth from the care he or she puts in footwear, than from clothes or facial features.”

Here is a series of advertising posters from the early decades of the 1900s, dedicated to shoe creams, greases and polishes.

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Marga, the great luxury cream for shoes" made by Sutter, Genoa, Giacomo Malugani

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Brillante, elegant people's shoe wax. The Italian company that takes over and triumphs everywhere!", Alberto Bevilacqua, 1921

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

Baldesio cream, Cremona, ca. 1925

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Stop" shoe polish made by Ernesto Iori, illustration by Agenzia Argo

Hydra, Achille Luciano Mauzan

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Ebano" and "Stop" creams, made by Ernesto Iori

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Brill, the pearl of polishes"

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Lion Noir" cream, 1930s

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Lion Noir" cream, Plinio Codognato, 1925

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Kaly, the shoe polish of Lords", Filippo Romoli, 1928

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Eva" cream, Florence

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Cromatina" cream, Giuseppe Landsman (Lucio Venna), 1927

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Astro" cream

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Aquila" grease made by Ebano

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Tana" cream, Milan, 1940

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Marga" cream, made by Sutter

Poster lucidi e creme per le scarpe

"Guttalin" cream, Padua

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