Maria Dare Dance History Collection
"Remember Our Roots"

Pointes of Past

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Anna Pavlova is believed to be the first to use supportive slippers for toe dancing. 
Early Italian shoe makers were considered the best of the best pointe shoe makers.
Chicago and New York were pointe shoe manufacturing hubs in 1920s & 1930s.
Dancers would go to the manufacturer, have have their shoes fitted.  The maker kept the information on file.  Dancers could reorder via mail.

Toe Shoe Makers Inventors

Pointe shoe makers have been inventors since the earliest times.  Here are pointes found  in early dance magazines.


Ads appeared in 1925 Dance Lovers Magazine.  Landi’s biggest contribution to dancers was the V-shaped vamp, still popular today.  There are Landi pointe shoes in Maria Dare Dance History Collection.  They are excellent quality/

The Heeled Toe

By Jan. 1927, Landi had the right to manufacture  Lola Menzeli’s heeled toe slipper.  Menzel’s patent was granted Sept. 1925.  The heel is what is known as the ”Baby Spanish Heel.”  They were available in black, white, pink satin; black or white kid leather for $12.00 per pair.  A pic of Ruth Page dancing in Heeled Toes appeared in The Dance, Sept. 1928


Barney’s pointe shoe ads appeared in 1924 Dance Lovers Magazines.  He received a patent for his slippers in 1925. Adds for his “toe shields” and “strong arch” appeared in 1925.  The strong arch was something that fit into any toe slipper.  His ad claimed strong arch was a cherished secret of the Imperial Russian Ballet used by Pavlowa and dancers before her.  It “enables beginners to dispense with the use of lamb’s wool, and prevents bleeding toes.”  There is no pic of strong arch or construction materials.


Jimmy Selva had a pointe shoe advertised in Dance Lovers Magazine 1925. 
His TuToe pointe shoe was developed by 1927.  In later years, he was joined by his son. The company became a major competitor with Capezio for decades.
Ad in The Dance, Oct. 1927, “Selva’s Striking Sensation:  Beauty, comfort, freedom and long wear plus.. Sandaltoe, with its featured Elastic Heel Grip is the only ribbon less toe slipper that provides absolute assurance against slipping of of the heel.” 


Leo Harris is identified as a designer for Advance Theatrical Shoe Co., Chicago in a Dance Lovers .ad, Oct. 1925.  It begins, “Out of the West Comes a Young Shoemaker.  In Dec. of that year, the same company’s ad has “Leo” trademark.   Leo’s idea was to make 2 pointe shoe styles.  One with a low arch and one with a high arch. By 1928, Leo was advertising his “hollow arch” point shoe.  Leo’s company continued to produce quality shoes into the late 1990s. It is no longer known for pointe shoes but a line of dancewear .is produced under that label.


Haney’s Toe Dancing Tapper had a small ad in1929.  They were sold by Haney Products Co., No. Vernon, Indiana.


Salvatore Capezio (1871-1940), an Italian cobbler, arrived New York in 1887.  He began repairing theatrical shoes for the Metropolitan Opera House.  Capezio claims 1887 as its origination date.  An ad in 1925 Dance Lovers shows his pointe shoe and promotes a new ribbon that won’t fold when wrapped around the ankle.  His ads were usually larger than other pointe shoe makers.  In 1928, Capezio’s ad for “concave arch” pointe shoes appeared next to Leo’s “hollow arch” pointe shoe ad.  The “concave arch” pictured in 1928 appears to be the same as the pointe shoe pictured in the 1925 ad.  The 1928 ad stated the “concave arch” was available in soft ballet slippers as well as pointe shoes. “Concave Arch Hard Toe Ballet in Pink or Black Satin, $5.50, White Satin, $5.75, and Black Kid, $5.25. Satin slippers dyed to match costume $1 extra.”  In 1934, Capezio had a large ad for the “adjustable” toe tap for pointe shoes.  The 1928 ad for Haney’s Toe Tap shows that Capezio’s was different.  Capezio remained a strong company for decades.  It is now the trade name of Capezio Ballet Makers Inc.
Revised:  April 2022
Page by Rozanne of Zandance