Lanolin and tallow, necessary ingredients in shoe polish are by-products of the wool and meat industries so neither New Zealand or Australia were ever short of the stuff.
Dubbin was a waxy tallow based product that could soften and waterproof leather but didn’t leave a shine. In medieval times however shine wasn’t an issue, but by the 18th Century glossy shoes and boots became fashionable and so a variety of shoe polishes were developed, most of them using a base of beeswax or lanolin, mixed with lampblack and were often called “blacking” or just went by the old name of dubbin.
In our home my parents made a distinction between shoe polish and dubbin… we would polish our shoes with shoe polish (which usually added a brown or black colour as well) but when it came to waterproofing and softening our tramping (hiking) boots, we were always told to get the “dubbin”. From what I remember, there wasn’t any colour in dubbin but it had a very distinctive smell that was hard to get off your hands afterwards.
Wikipedia tells me:
The first shoe polish to resemble the modern varieties (aimed primarily at inducing shine) was Kiwi.
Scottish expatriates William Ramsay and Hamilton McKellan began making “boot polish” in a small factory in 1904 in Melbourne, Australia.
Their formula was a major improvement on previous brands. It preserved shoe leather, made it shine, and restored color. By the time Kiwi Dark Tan was released in 1908, it incorporated agents that added suppleness and water resistance.
Australian-made boot polish was then considered the world’s best. Black and a range of colors became available, and exports to Britain, continental Europe, and New Zealand began. Previously owned by the Sara Lee Corporation since 1984, Kiwi was sold in 2011 to SC Johnson.
Ramsay named the shoe polish after the kiwi, the national bird of New Zealand; Ramsay’s wife, Annie Elizabeth Meek Ramsay, was a native of Oamaru, New Zealand. It has been suggested that, at a time when several symbols were weakly associated with New Zealand, the eventual spread of Kiwi shoe polish around the world enhanced the Kiwi’s popular appeal and promoted it at the expense of the others.
So from this I learn the an Australian product became famous under a New Zealand symbol… should that maybe make it a national icon of both countries then?
The Kiwi is the emblem of the famous shoe polish… this leads us nicely into discussion about New Zealand’s national bird, an icon in it’s own right.
Wikipedia tells me:
Kiwi’s have the genus name “Apteryx” which is derived from Ancient Greek meaning without wings a-, “without” or “not” and pterux, “wing”)
Kiwi are flightless birds endemic to New Zealand, and are about the size of a domestic chicken. They are by far the smallest living ratites and lay the largest egg in relation to their body size of any species of bird in the world.
There are five recognised species, two of which are currently vulnerable, one endangered, and one critically endangered. All species have been adversely affected by historic deforestation but currently large areas of their forest habitat are well protected in reserves and national parks. Kiwi are shy and usually nocturnal. They prefer subtropical and temperate podocarp and beech forests, and have a highly developed sense of smell, unusual in a bird, and are the only birds with nostrils at the end of their long beaks.
Kiwi eat small invertebrates, seeds, grubs, and many varieties of worms. They also may eat fruit, small crayfish, eels and amphibians. Because their nostrils are located at the end of their long beaks, kiwi can locate insects and worms underground using their keen sense of smell, without actually seeing or feeling them. Once bonded, a male and female kiwi tend to live their entire lives as a monogamous couple.
During the mating season, June to March, the pair call to each other at night, and meet in the nesting burrow every three days. These relationships may last for up to 20 years. They are unique among other birds in that they have a functioning pair of ovaries. Kiwi eggs can weigh up to one quarter the weight of the female. Usually only one egg is laid per season. The kiwi lays the biggest egg in proportion to its size of any bird in the world. Eggs are smooth in texture, and are ivory or greenish white. The male incubates the egg, except for the Great Spotted Kiwi, A. haastii, in which both parents are involved.
The Māori language word kiwi (pronounced”kee-wee”) is generally accepted to be have originated from the sound of their call.
As a symbol the kiwi first appeared in the late 19th century in New Zealand regimental badges and during the First World War, the name “kiwi” for New Zealand soldiers came into general use, spread so that now all New Zealanders overseas and at home are commonly referred to as “kiwis”.
The New Zealand dollar is often referred to as “the kiwi dollar” and kiwi symbol is now famous around the world.
When I was looking for a pseudonym to blog under, it seemed logical to try and combine the New Zealand and Dutch sides of my life, Since “kiwi” is totally recognisable as New Zealand side of me, the moniker “Kiwidutch” was an easy choice and one that fits perfectly!