Mozart’s fancy shoe buckle slated for auction, Oct. 30

Mozart's shoe

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756–1791) personal shoe buckle,
silver over brass with ornamental floral engraving, iron pin, 8.5 x 7.2 cm, with autograph documentation in display case. Image courtesy of Dorotheum


VIENNA – All over the world, musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is worshipped in a way more commonly reserved for saints. It is therefore hardly surprising that a shoe buckle once worn by the composer was preserved in an ornate glass display case, not unlike a devotional object. The keepsake is going to be auctioned on October 30 at Dorotheum Vienna’s Imperial Memorabilia Auction.

Oral tradition has it that high-spirited Mozart could be quite hard on his footwear:  In spring 1789, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was also well known for enjoying fancy clothes, apparently stamped his foot with such force during a concert in Dresden that his shoe buckle burst (cf. Mozarts Leben und Werke by Alexander Ulibischeff, 2. vol., chap. 23).

The shoe buckle entered in the auction comes from the estate of Viennese master shoe maker Matthias Knoller, from whom Mozart purchased custom footwear. Dorotheum experts estimate the buckle, made of brass applied with silver with floral and ornamental engraving,  will sell for between $2,300 and $4,700.

According to signed documents, K. &. K. court shoemaker Karl Bühn and his wife Marie inherited the item from Matthias Knoller. The letter reads: “The silver shoe buckle received following the death, on 16.9. 1911, of my father Karl Bühn, K. &. K court shoe maker, according to his statement used to belong to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It originated with the estate of my deceased great-grandfather Matthias Knoller, master shoe maker in Vienna, whose customer the great artist once was. Marie Bühn.“ Another handwritten note says: “W. A. Mozart, customer of my deceased grandfather.”

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