✅ SOLVED Solved: How do you date horseshoes?

cdsieg

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Just wondering how you date horseshoes? :dontknow:

I am sure someone is thinking... "Just ask it out" LOL so I thought I'd beat you to that one! :-\
 

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BosnMate

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Re: How do you date horseshoes?

They both look to be fairly modern. It looks to me to be what, in the 1960's and 70's we called "cold shoes." In other words they were cast (they said "drop forged" and kind of pre-shaped by Diamond Horse shoe company, and they came either flat or with corks cast onto the heels, and I think I remember even some with both corks and toe grabs. Anyhow they could banged around a little on the anvil and nailed on the horse, and the lazy farrier would rasp the foot off to fit the shoe. Properly, the shoe is supposed to be shaped to the foot, and the heels cut off at the proper place, or corks turned etc. This was only done using a forge and heating the shoe, in other words, hot shoes, and hot shoeing. Then in the late 60's and onward from there the Japanese were manufacturing shoes in half sizes, and those became they very popular. I hated the Japanese shoes in the beginning because they didn't bend uniformly, so I used the more expensive diamond shoes. Probably the Japanese shoes being a lot cheaper, also helped their popularity. Anyhow, American companies stopped making shoes, and I was stuck using the imported ones, and I'll have to give credit, before I quit shoeing they manufacture a very good horse shoe. Your shoe on the left is a front shoe, on the right is a hind shoe, note the difference in shape. Horses have been shod for hundreds of years, and they all look sort of alike. It seems to me that some of the shoes found at Civil War sites have a wider web, but I'm not an expert on that, and unless you are finding things along with the shoe that would help date it, the only other way would be how much rust and scale was on it would give you an idea if it was fairly new or really old.
 
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cdsieg

cdsieg

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Re: How do you date horseshoes?

BosnMate said:
They both look to be fairly modern. It looks to me to be what, in the 1960's and 70's we called "cold shoes." In other words they were cast (they said "drop forged" and kind of pre-shaped by Diamond Horse shoe company, and they came either flat or with corks cast onto the heels, and I think I remember even some with both corks and toe grabs. Anyhow they could banged around a little on the anvil and nailed on the horse, and the lazy farrier would rasp the foot off to fit the shoe. Properly, the shoe is supposed to be shaped to the foot, and the heels cut off at the proper place, or corks turned etc. This was only done using a forge and heating the shoe, in other words, hot shoes, and hot shoeing. Then in the late 60's and onward from there the Japanese were manufacturing shoes in half sizes, and those became they very popular. I hated the Japanese shoes in the beginning because they didn't bend uniformly, so I used the more expensive diamond shoes. Probably the Japanese shoes being a lot cheaper, also helped their popularity. Anyhow, American companies stopped making shoes, and I was stuck using the imported ones, and I'll have to give credit, before I quit shoeing they manufacture a very good horse shoe. Your shoe on the left is a front shoe, on the right is a hind shoe, note the difference in shape. Horses have been shod for hundreds of years, and they all look sort of alike. It seems to me that some of the shoes found at Civil War sites have a wider web, but I'm not an expert on that, and unless you are finding things along with the shoe that would help date it, the only other way would be how much rust and scale was on it would give you an idea if it was fairly new or really old.
Wow! Great information! I really appreciate it. Here is a photo before they where cleaned:
 

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TomPA

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Re: How do you date horseshoes?

Horseshoes can be a little tough to date, as there were few changes over the years. However here are a few guidelines that I've come across.
The curving sides are called branches and the flat parts of those are the foot. Older branches (17th century into mid 1700's) tended to be crafted with a more inward curve that produced a "keyhole" look to the shape of the shoe. After this time period, the heels of the shoes were not as wide spread apart. The oldest shoes normally only had 6 nail holes in them and then in the later 1700's some had as many as 10 per side. (This obviously was a choice by the maker, so some later date shoes continued with fewer holes).

In the mid 1800's, the toe clip was introduced (the bump that your thumb goes on when pitching horseshoes).

The turned down ends at the end of the branches are called calkins. They started to show up on horseshoes in the 1800's as well.

Also, the grove that the nail holes are recessed into are called fullering. The oldest shoes did not have this feature. It showed up around 1750-75.
 
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Re: How do you date horseshoes?

TomPA said:
Horseshoes can be a little tough to date, as there were few changes over the years. However here are a few guidelines that I've come across.
The curving sides are called branches and the flat parts of those are the foot. Older branches (17th century into mid 1700's) tended to be crafted with a more inward curve that produced a "keyhole" look to the shape of the shoe. After this time period, the heels of the shoes were not as wide spread apart. The oldest shoes normally only had 6 nail holes in them and then in the later 1700's some had as many as 10 per side. (This obviously was a choice by the maker, so some later date shoes continued with fewer holes).

In the mid 1800's, the toe clip was introduced (the bump that your thumb goes on when pitching horseshoes).

The turned down ends at the end of the branches are called calkins. They started to show up on horseshoes in the 1800's as well.

Also, the grove that the nail holes are recessed into are called fullering. The oldest shoes did not have this feature. It showed up around 1750-75.
More fantastic information! Thank You!
 
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BosnMate

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Re: How do you date horseshoes?

TomPA said:
Horseshoes can be a little tough to date, as there were few changes over the years. However here are a few guidelines that I've come across.
The curving sides are called branches and the flat parts of those are the foot. Older branches (17th century into mid 1700's) tended to be crafted with a more inward curve that produced a "keyhole" look to the shape of the shoe. After this time period, the heels of the shoes were not as wide spread apart. The oldest shoes normally only had 6 nail holes in them and then in the later 1700's some had as many as 10 per side. (This obviously was a choice by the maker, so some later date shoes continued with fewer holes).

In the mid 1800's, the toe clip was introduced (the bump that your thumb goes on when pitching horseshoes).

The turned down ends at the end of the branches are called calkins. They started to show up on horseshoes in the 1800's as well.

Also, the grove that the nail holes are recessed into are called fullering. The oldest shoes did not have this feature. It showed up around 1750-75.

The problem with your dating is that probably 25 or 30 years ago I made horseshoes that weren't fullered. I haven't got any idea what the shoers today are doing, but i had a forge, was trained in a horseshoeing school, and if the horse required it, I made the shoe from bar stock and punched the holes. So did others. Not too long ago I watched a female horse shoer build a hand made horse shoe and she punched the nail holes. Saying that you can date the shoe because the heels are closer together on the older shoes rings false to also. Unless evolution, which I doubt, in the last couple of hundred years has altered the shape of the horses foot, then the shoes had to be made to fit the foot. A horse's foot that is shaped exactly the same today as 600 years ago. Unlike mules that have very straight sides on their feet, front and back, horses have different shaped feet front and back. Front shoes are more rounded, back shoes are more pointed. The photos in this post are both a front and a back shoe. Shoes made with narrow heels that didn't fit the hoof wall would cause the horse to come lame, so your theory of narrow heels on older shoes doesn't hold water, they didn't ride lame horses. Also, horses are individuals, no two are the same, so today if a horse has narrow heels on the front foot, then that is how the shoe is fit. Also, if on the front foot, a raggedy heal on the shoe, or one that extends beyond the heel of the foot causes two problems. First, the horse can step on the front shoe with his hind foot, and either trip or pull the shoe, or two, the poorly fit shoe will cause a shoe boil. That's a sore way up on the leg near the horses body, because when the animal lies down, the front foot is tucked up near the body and the poorly fit shoe rubs a sore. Also front feet tend to have narrower heels than the rear foot, so those shoes tend to be wider at the heels than the front, and the shoe can extend a bit behind the heel without any problems. Over the centuries more study has gone into horses feet than probably anything else. It's like the nursery rhyme that starts, "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost," and ends, "For want or the war the nation was lost, and all for the want of a horse shoe nail." Civilization arrived in this world on the back of a horse, and the horse wasn't lame. I'm sorry, but trying to date a horse shoe by shape or the number of nail holes is like trying to date a knife by the shape of the blade, it's not really possible. One last thing, when the horse puts his weight on the foot, the heels expand, which is very necessary for the health of the foot, if the heels can't expand, they become contracted, and the horse comes lame, so keeping the foot from expanding by running the nails that far back on the foot would cause the horse to come up lame in a short period of time. If you have found a shoe with that many nail holes, then there was something wrong with the animals foot that they were trying to correct, and it was more important that the foot be allowed to grow out than the expansion. In that case the horse probably wasn't used until the foot grew out, then the shoe was pulled and a proper one used. The bump on the toe of the shoe is called a "toe grab." A clip is drawn up on the toe by the blacksmith, and burned into the foot, and are used to take the strain off the nails. What you call "calkins," out west are called "corks," and are spelled caulks. The spikes on loggers boots are spelled and called the same thing. Anyhow, I've gone on too long. Good luck on dating horse shoes. I remember someone on Ebay was trying to sell a horse shoe that came off of one of Custer's horses at the Little Big Horn. I don't recollect him getting a bid. Unless he actually illegally dug the shoe on the battlefield, which fight took place over 140 or so years ago, but instead found it in the area, then how do you know it wasn't lost off of a horse in the next 100 plus years. Even if it was found on the actual battlefield, it could have been lost any time. To each his own, but I'm not going to buy a relic horse shoe, because like a rose, a shoe is a shoe, is a shoe. If you think you can pin a date on it, then go for it. All of that said, the shoes in this post are Diamond brand, and were used in this country in the mid 1950's, I know, because I nailed a lot of'em. i just googled diamond brand horse shoes, and they are still making the same shoe, and say they are the largest supplier in the world. So there you go.
 
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Coinstriking Michigan

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Normally just the standard dinner and a movie. :icon_thumright:
 
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The information that was provided was found in the book: Artifacts of Colonial America by Ivor Noel Hume. (Don't shoot the messenger-call the author!) As noted, dating horseshoes is difficult at best. As with any hand-made item, the maker has the liberty to make it as he/she wishes. A current gunmaker could easily produce a flintlock rifle with all the early fixtures, but it obviously would not be old. Same thing with an ancient spear/arrow point. All one can do is go with the professional studies that have been documented and make your best guess.
 

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BosnMate

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I have nailed on examples of number 5, 6, 7, and 8. Number 8 is a mule shoe. Number 6 could be the bend of the book distorting the picture, or it could be a side weighted shoe and is used on horses that aren't traveling properly, like interfering and hitting the other leg, so need the extra is weight on one side or another to help cure that. That's called a corrective type shoe and is used still today. 1, 2, 3, and 4 are hand made shoes, and I've made shoes that wide for a fellow that wanted his show horse to really slide when he stopped. I've never seen one like number three, but I would imagine that the horses hoof wall was broken up very badly and he wasn't going to be able to get good sound nails. A horse-shoer today would probably draw a toe clip and/or side clips to help the nails hold. Anyhow, all those shoes probably are being made and used today, however the first 4 wouldn't be very common, and I would tend to date them as old, but once you get to the early 1900's, from there back they could all be in fairly common use. All I'm trying to do is explain just how impossible it is to pin a date on a horse shoe, because it's possible, even probable that the same style or type that is supposed to be old is still used today. The anatomy of a horses foot, and the problem solving needed to keep a horse sound is the same now as 2000 years ago. That said, hand forged, hot punched nail holes definitely have the odds in favor of being older, and depending on relics found with them, they could possibly be dated way back. Manufactured shoes with a fuller crease for the nail heads are much more problematic. The first patent for a horseshoe manufacturing machine was in 1835. Bronze horse shoes were in use 1000 years ago. A civil war horse-shoer would be very familiar with the shoes we use today.
 
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cdsieg

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I have nailed on examples of number 5, 6, 7, and 8. Number 8 is a mule shoe. Number 6 could be the bend of the book distorting the picture, or it could be a side weighted shoe and is used on horses that aren't traveling properly, like interfering and hitting the other leg, so need the extra is weight on one side or another to help cure that. That's called a corrective type shoe and is used still today. 1, 2, 3, and 4 are hand made shoes, and I've made shoes that wide for a fellow that wanted his show horse to really slide when he stopped. I've never seen one like number three, but I would imagine that the horses hoof wall was broken up very badly and he wasn't going to be able to get good sound nails. A horse-shoer today would probably draw a toe clip and/or side clips to help the nails hold. Anyhow, all those shoes probably are being made and used today, however the first 4 wouldn't be very common, and I would tend to date them as old, but once you get to the early 1900's, from there back they could all be in fairly common use. All I'm trying to do is explain just how impossible it is to pin a date on a horse shoe, because it's possible, even probable that the same style or type that is supposed to be old is still used today. The anatomy of a horses foot, and the problem solving needed to keep a horse sound is the same now as 2000 years ago. That said, hand forged, hot punched nail holes definitely have the odds in favor of being older, and depending on relics found with them, they could possibly be dated way back. Manufactured shoes with a fuller crease for the nail heads are much more problematic. The first patent for a horseshoe manufacturing machine was in 1835. Bronze horse shoes were in use 1000 years ago. A civil war horse-shoer would be very familiar with the shoes we use today.
I don't know how I missed your last reply, but better late than never! You are a wealth of information! I am so glad you take the time to not only share info on here, but you take the time and effort to really teach us newbies a whole lot of great information. Thank you very much for your responses!
 
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RoadKill27

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great info here and very much appreciated , would I be right in thinking this would be mid to late 18th century , it was found in woodland that used to be farmland , biggest shoe I have ever seen
s1.JPG

s4.JPG s4.JPG
 
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BosnMate

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great info here and very much appreciated , would I be right in thinking this would be mid to late 18th century , it was found in woodland that used to be farmland , biggest shoe I have ever seen
View attachment 1122487

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From the photos I can't really tell what the size of the shoe is, but without nail holes, it wouldn't be a horse shoe. That said, I think I can see two nails toward the toe in the upper branch, that are plugging the punched holes in the shoe. If as you say, it's very large, and there are nail holes, then it could be a front shoe for a larger draft animal, perhaps a work horse used for farming or logging. Welcome to TNet.
 
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BosnMate

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Roadkill, this thread goes back to 2012, I think you would be better off starting a new one.
 
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RoadKill27

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there are several large nails in there , I dropped it into a blacksmith today who says by what he can see it is at least hundred years old , he is going to clean it up and I pick it up next Saturday
 
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creskol

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there are several large nails in there , I dropped it into a blacksmith today who says by what he can see it is at least hundred years old , he is going to clean it up and I pick it up next Saturday
I would be interested in knowing what criteria he bases his assessment on once you get it back.
 
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On occasion do find old rusty horse shoes.

What is the proper way to clean a shoe?
Take it to a farrier or blacksmith???

Thank you.
 
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On occasion do find old rusty horse shoes.

What is the proper way to clean a shoe?
Take it to a farrier or blacksmith???

Thank you.

IMO , Electrolysis Would be my first Choice for cleaning, esp, if in a hurry, then maybe a long Apple Cider Vinegar Soak (est , a couple few weeks).

Just to say.
I only save/Clean Horse/Ox Type shoes that I find in areas that saw Civil War Actions Or CW Camps, but as bosmate said they could have come from a horse etc, some 20-75 years later.

Still learned some great info , even if the post is older.
Maybe the Science of Horse Shoe dating has come a long way in the past 3+ years. Lol
 
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Coll21

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Im knew at learning how to date horseshoes
I’ve recently just came cross one at a yard sale and decided to buy because I thought it looked different and unique
Any help on the date I would be grateful
Because I don’t want to ruin anything that Is history and rare as I was going to make something with it
Thanks 002F8373-8CDB-4593-BAD6-CF8AD47BDD22.jpeg 002F8373-8CDB-4593-BAD6-CF8AD47BDD22.jpeg
 
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