Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, Patents! Perugia’s heel construction

FR595482 - Fig. 1
Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Many of Perugia’s patents are heel-related. This is probably because in 1925 Perugia actually changed the way women's heels were previously constructed.

FR595482 - Fig. 4
In the 1925 French patent, FR595482, Perugia disclosed the sheet metal housing of a shoe heel (Fig. 1), designed to receive two parts of a heel made of wood and assembled in a "T" shape (Fig. 4). This invention replaced the former method of heel construction consisting in nailing or gluing leather around a single block of wood, carved into the shape of a heel. The problematic situation consisted in the expense and time it took to carve the single piece of wood-block heel, and then to wrap it in leather, and to attach part of the shoe sole at the connection point with the rest of the shoe.

Perugia changed the former art, by designing a metal housing for two blocks of wood assembled as an angled “T” shaped heel (Fig 4). The metal housing could additionally be fashionably enameled to bypass covering it with leather. The empty spaces inside the housing could be filled with cork or other materials, and the metal housing was held together with metal threads or fasteners.

The invention thus afforded both a much lighter heel than single-block wooden heels. And, compared to a housing heel with no wood blocks inside, it also offered a more resistant heel as it still enclosed the wooden T-shaped blocks. The scope of the invention also extended to all sorts of heels, beyond women’s high heels.

FR608988 - Fig 4 
A year later, Perugia filed an improvement to his novel heel construction invention. This improvement, disclosed in FR608988, consisted in changing the ergonomic shape of the two pieces of wood, assembled as a “T” within the metal housing (Figure 4]. Essentially, the horizontal block of wood was fabricated in an augmented size, to provide more anchoring when attached to the heel part of the shoe, and the vertical block was more beveled to better accommodate the increased surface of the horizontal block and it's shape.

Both of these two early patents awarded in France to Perugia, in 1925 and 1926, were almost concurrently re-filed in the USA (as US1809918 and US1642889), in Switzerland (as CH124341 and CH118696), in Canada (as CA274538 and CA264938) and in Austria (AT108548 and AT106112), which suggests how important they were to the manufacture of shoe heels.

From then on, Perugia filed many more heel patents: design patents draping the metal housing “turban-style” (USD111857, USD112086 USD111858), and many additional utility patents such as the whimsical “music box heel” patent (FR625731) or a new heel height patent (US2465817), and a famous heel customization (US2795866) patent. 

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