Glossary of Footwear Terminology, P-Q

International Language Terminology Cross-Reference General Glossary of Footwear Types

Painted decoration
A decoration made by using pigment to ornament the leather surface. [Goubitz, 2001]

Painting the stitches
Laving the stitches laying upon the Rann with white closing thread No longer done to shoes. [Holme, 1688]

Paired lace
A leather tie-lace of one piece with both ends used for fastening. [Goubitz, 2001]

Using the thin, or flat part of the hammer to beat the leather into a flatter shape. [Devlin, 1840]

Pantofle (also Pantoble)
A post-medieval term for a slipper or a raised overshoe

Trimming the sole of the Forepart near the stitches. [Devlin, 1840]:

Paring Board (Other medieval spellings include Paring Bord)
The meaning here is unclear, and it is likely that this is either a cutting board, or possibly it may be a small board used for trimming welts without damaging the overleather. See Fender. [Lystyne lordys verament]

Paring Horn
A flat, thin piece of horn placed between the Welt/Rand and the Shoe when trimming the Welt, used to protect the shoe from the Paring knife. See Fender.  [Holme, 1688]

Paring knife (See Carving knife)

Paris Point / Continental size (See Continental size)

A term for a particular form of Rawhide, or Green Hide, today almost entirely referring to untanned Buffalo hide, and the materials made from such material. There is an entire craft associated Native American goods made with Parfleche manufacture.

Passepoil (Piping):
A small strip of leather folded double and sewn in a seam that joins two pieces of leather. [Goubitz, 2001]


  1. Shoemaker's wax. [Devlin, 1840]
  2. An adhesive made from rye or wheat that is used to adhere leather pieces in place during sewing, stitching, whipping, etc.  May not be a medieval tool.
  3. A mixture prepared by combining wheat starch, pieces of dried chestnut or potato, and water. It has a stiffening as well as a strengthening effect.  [Vass]
  4. Sample Paste
    1/4 cup White Flour (Rye is traditional [Saguto]); 1/16 tsp Alum or Salt; 1 cup water. Combine the flour and the alum or salt. Add the water, eliminating lumps. Bring to a boil for a minute, constantly stirring. If it thickens, add water.
Paste Horn
A container made from a bovine horn, used to hold the paste. May not be a medieval tool.

Patten (Other medieval terms include Clog, Clogge, Galache, Galoch, Galosh, Golosh, Galoche, Galegge, Galliochios, Galloche,  Gaulish Shoes, Paten, Patyn, Trippe  Latin: Calopodla,Calopedes, Callopedium, Crepitum, Crepita)
These are all names for a variety of overshoes, made with wood, leather, or cork platform soles, sometimes with bits of metal on the bottoms, intended to protect the shoes from wet, cold, mud and pavement. They remained in use in one form or another until the American Colonial period.  Some items seen currently thought of as Patens may in fact be sandals. 

the card, paper etc. shapes used to cut out upper sections. Also the design of the upper, so cut [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

Pattern-connected sole
Sole contiguous with the upper, seen in shoes made between A.D. 600 to 1100. [Goubitz, 2001] (See One Piece Shoe)

A device for obtaining an "inked" footprint. The device takes the form of a sheet of latex stretched over a rigid frame. The latex is inked on the putative "under" side and the weight-bearing foot is set on the upper side. A "footprint" results. Some makers have the customer "walk off" the Pedograph--thus obtaining a "gait" profile. [Coliquy]

Peacock Knife
Although I have not seen these, they have been described to me as being an interpretation of the Trekent/Round Knife.  In the case of these knives the spike is also used as a knife for cutting curved angles [Alan Andrist, email to, 17-18 March 2004]

(See Vamp)

(See Vamp)

Peen (also Pane)
To beat out leather with the narrow end of the hammer; to shape the soles, lay the stitches, or compress the leather.

  1. A small wooden pin used initially for repairs, then in later eras to attach heels then finally soles.
  2. A strip of wood used for crude repairs, it was cut oval in section for the early heels. In the 19th century it was used for sole attachment, and is then usually diamond shaped. [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Holme, 1688]
  3. Small wooden nails, used for attaching repair soles or as a construction method. [Goubitz, 2001]
Peg hole
The distinctive lozenge-shaped or square hole left in the leather after the peg has disappeared. [Goubitz, 2001]

Pegged construction
A method of attaching the treadsole (outsole) to the upper and insole by using rows of wooden pegs to nail the pieces together. [Goubitz, 2001]

Pegged shoe (Pegged boot)
Leather shoes with the sole fastened to the upper by wooden pegs. []

Pegging on the heel pieces [Holme, 1688]

Piecing  (Other medieval spellings include Pecyn, Pecyng, Latin: Repecio, Reb(r)occo, Sarcto, Reficio. Modern terms include: Insert)
This could refer either to using smaller pieces of leather to build a larger piece, such as a boot leg; or it may refer to clouting.  There was some disagreement between cordwainers and cobblers about whether piecing could mean a whole quarter or only part of a quarter.  A piece of leather which has been added to the overleather to fill out or adjust the final shoe.  There is also a modern definition that has nothing to do with the archeological meaning (or historical shoemaking).

Petty Boy
A tool for slickening stitches.  May not be a medieval tool.  See Bones and Sticks

Pike (Other medieval spellings include: Crackowes, Pouilaines Latin: Liripipium)
A point.  Specifically the point on the toe of a shoe.  In the 12th century piked shoes appear to have been called pigases (pigaches in French), or pigacić and pigatić.  In the later 14th century, the style was called “crackowe”, such as “shoes with crackowe pikes”, then later “shoes with long crackowes”.  In the early 15th century, in France, the term “poulaine” referred to the Polish fashion. 

Pin (Modern terms include: Bubble)
Commonly these fittings are smaller single-layer leather patches, but can also be larger laminates of leather added to a last to adjust its size, shape, etc. for custom fitting.  These are called heel-pin, toe-pin, and so forth, depending on location.

A simple iron tool used in lasting, for hammering tacks and pulling them out.  After the Middle Ages, Pincers become increasingly more specialized into Pincers and Nippers (See also Nippers):

Pinking (Fenestration, Gimping.)
  1. Cut zigzag and scallop decoration on the edges of the upper parts of the shoes. [Webber, 1989] The 20th century uses the term gimping for zig-zags on brogues. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  2. Punching holes in various patterns. This is sometimes referred to as Fenestration (q.v.).
  3. Pinking the overleather, cutting the grain of the leather in to roses, knots and orderly devices. [Holme, 1688]
  4. (Gimping) Trimming and simultaneously decorating the edges of leather pieces. The shoemaker does this with a gimping machine in which steel tools with various patterns and designs can be fitted. [Vass]

Pinson (Other medieval spellings include: Caffignon, Pinsone, Pinçon, Pinsion, Pisnet, Puisnet, Pynson, Sokke. Latin: Pedipomita, possibly Calceolus, Calceamesa Calceamen Pedibomita Pedribriomita)
A kind of thin shoe, slipper or pump.  Although they appear in the literature from 1350 to around 1600, there is no clear contemporary description of them.  It maybe assumed that they are a slip on shoe held in place by fit, rather than any fastenings.

Folds that occur during the lasting process. [Devlin, 1840]

  1. Similar to Bead but should be restricted to material with a string type core. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  2. Piping (Passepoil) (See Bead)
  3. A cord-like trim which sometimes contains a filler of hair or other material, sewn along the edges and over and in seams. [Webber, 1989]
Pit tanned
See Tanned

Pitch (Stitch Length)
The measurement of stitch lengths per inch in a given seam.  It is likely that this term is 19th century in origin. [Thornton/Swann, 1983][Webber, 1989][Goubitz, 2001]

Tar thickened and purified by boiling.  Tar is the caramelized sap from trees gathered in the charcoal making process.

Of a shoe or a last: the distance between the heel seat and the ground, dependent on the height of the heel. [Goubitz, 2001]

Platform Sole
A thick sole, generally originally of cork covered, to give additional height, usually for fashion reasons [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

Platform (sole) cover/envelope
The leather covering for the thickness of the cork or wooden midsole filling. [Goubitz, 2001] 

Platform sole
Shoe, mule or leather patten that is elevated by means of a cork or wooden mid-sole. [Goubitz, 2001]

A style in which the vamp is not subdivided or perforated. [Vass]

Plough (Feather Plough, Feathering Knife)

  1. Tool used to form the feather in the insole.
  2. Vass's translator uses the term "Gouge" for this.
The points of the thread refer to the (bristles) the thread is waxed to. [Devlin, 1840]

Polishing Bones
See Bones and Sticks.

Polishing Sticks
See Bones and Sticks.

To stick your awl into the leather.

Or Dividing.  After Jiggering, the stitches are marked with a special tool to further finish them. This helps to make the Crease in the Welt [Devlin, 1840]

Pricking Awl
See Awl.

Pricking Iron
See Stitch Prick

When your foot rolls inward upon contact with the ground. A natural occurrence. []

Pucker Type (Pucker Seam)
A type of shoe that is similar to the center seam in that the sole wraps up around the foot, but does not meet at the top in a single seam, but rather "puckers" up around the sides.

A light, low-cut turn-shoe, first mentioned in the 16th Century, thin soled, shoe without any lacing, straps or a heel, or later a very low heel. It often had no fastening and was kept in place by the close fit. They were worn principally by footmen. The term remains until the 19th century when it dies out, only to be used in the 20th century for a similar style of heeled woman’s shoe.

A punch is a tool used to make a hole in leather, by removing a plug of leather, as opposed to stabbing through or piercing leather.  Also used to describe the action of a punch, as in “punching holes in leather”.  Holme shows this as:

Punching Lead
A bit of lead that the punch is hammered into.  The softness of the lead being enough to protect the blade of the punch from dulling.  Holme shows this as:

Putting-on brushes
Brushes made of soft horsehair, used to apply shoe cream; it is advisable to use a separate brush for each color. [Vass]

The meaning is not clear, the use in context regards work a cobbler might do, and so may mean cutting out holes in the old leather and piecing those holes with new leather; or it may refer to sewing with a quarrel, or a square needle.

Part of the upper. the two quarters cover the inner and outer sides of the foot, reaching from the instep to the back of the heel (where they meet). The height of the quarters at the inside of the ankle bone is 2 inches (5 cm) in shoes and an additional 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in ankle boots. [Vass]

A part of the overleather.  From the use of this term in context, it is pretty clear that the forefoot was part of the quarters, which differs from later shoemaking usage in which the quarters referred specifically to the rear part of the overleather; the material which goes round the wearer's heel.

Quarter curve
The shape of the quarter under, over or above the ankle. [Goubitz, 2001]

Quarter rubber
A piece of hard, non-slip rubber a quarter inch (6 mm) thick that is nailed to the top piece of the heel. [Vass]

Quarter seam
A seam placed in a short slit some ten to fifteen millimetres backwards on the quarter to join the vamp and the quarter; the seam is often concealed beneath the forward edge of the quarter. [Goubitz, 2001]

Quarter Tip
A segment let into the top piece at the outside back where the most wear occurs. [Thornton/Swann, 1983]

Quarters (Backpart)
  1. The material which goes round the wearer's heel.  The sides and heel of the upper. A Backpart is the same area on a shoe that has no backseam, a one-piece Quarter. The name quarter is derived from the fact that if there is a join at the back, then a pair of shoes has four of them. Medieval shoes do not usually have a backseam, the inside and outside quarters each forming a continuous section.
  2. The sides of the shoe upper joining the vamp at the front, and each other at the heel with a backseam. Name derived from the cutting pattern layout for a shoe upper: the vamp making one half of the upper and the two sides making up the other half; a half halved is a quarter, hence four quarters to a pair of shoes. [Goubitz, 2001]

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Footwear of the Middle Ages - Glossary of Footwear Terminology P-Q, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 I. Marc Carlson. 
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