Update: Thanks to Anon Trad and Nick in the Comment for pointing towards the answer!
Sorry if you clicked on this post looking for a photo or something, but this morning I was reading the one millionth slightly different version of who / what / where loafers and weejuns were invented and I thought to myself – everyone is repeating this story about Norwegian fishermans slippers being the basis for an entire american industry, but no one has ever shown a pair – not even an illustration.
So far the story that Decline & Fall dug up on Film Noir Buff about the original orders for shoes that became Weejuns seems to be the most authentic vis a vis Bass, but someone somewhere must have an idea of the original shoes and what they looked like?
Strangely, if Bass really started making these in 1936, it would have been near impossible for Nettleton Shoes of Syracuse, NJ to have patented the style and the name ‘The Loafer’ in 1937.
For most of my life I had thought that the ‘jun’ bit was a reference to native american shoes who of course already produced moccasins for thousands of years. This may have been compunded by the rival Trujun brand which featured a Chief in their advertising. I’m not saying there never was a Norwegian fisherman’s moccasin, but it does seem strange that Americans had to go that far to get inspiration that was on their own door step. (Having said that I know it would not be the first or last time for them!)
Of course there is the element that in the very north of Scandinavia the people are very close to being Inuit, who are also close to being Native Americans so there is some credence to that.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this. You guys in Maine – ask your great grandparents and let me know!