Monday, May 24, 2010
Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852 – 1889)
Until 1883 the cost of shoes had been directly dependent on the cost of employing ‘hand lasters.’ These were crafts men who attached the upper part of a shoe to the sole and a skilled operative could produce 50 pairs of shoes in a working day. They formed the Company of Shoemakers and this body ensured high sums of money were paid to their members’ services. The invention of the shoe-lasting machine by Jan Ernst Matzeliger had an enormous impact on the industry which could now produce between 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day. With more shoes available the cost of footwear dropped and for the first time in history, ordinary people could afford shoes. In recognition of his accomplishment Jan Ernst Matzeliger was honored on a postage stamp on September 15, 1991.