28 days of Black Inventions: Shoe Lasting Machine

28 days of Black Inventions

February 11th, 2017

Shoe lasting Machine

As we normally do this time of year, we’re going to celebrate Black History Month by acknowledging 28 of the most influential, world changing inventions by Black People. Our goal is to shed light on some inventions that most people probably didn’t know about, some of the lessor known inventions as well some of the more notable inventions. So, join us on our 28-day journey and you might learn a thing or two.

Shoe lasting Machine


Every day we come across things in our life that we take for granted. Clean drinking water, Electricity & the very food we eat. Also, just imagine the difficulties we would have without proper footwear. There was a time when having shoes to put on your feet came at a premium. Due to the incredibly difficult manufacturing cost and time it took to make one pair. Along comes an Invention that would both increase the productivity of shoe making as well as decrease the time & money it took to make them. One of the reasons why they were so hard to produce was because they had to be assembled by hand. There were no Machines around that could mesh or fasten the lower half of the shoe with the upper portion. The Shoe Lasting Machine was created in 1883 to perform this incredibly hard task, and it worked.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger


To this great Invention we owe a huge measure of respect and credit to Mr. Jan Ernst Matzeliger. He was the creator of the Shoe Lasting Machine, a technological advance that quite simply helped advance the world. Born in Suriname in 1852 to Dutch and Afro-Caribbean Parents, he migrated to America at the age of 19. After several years in Philadelphia he moved North the Massachusetts and began a career as an Apprentice in a Shoe factory. Months and years went by angered by how hard it was to produce shoes by hand, he began work on a “Shoe Lasting Machine” to make the process easier.

On March 20th, 1883, he received a Patent for his Invention and changed the Shoe Industry forever. Making shoes by hand would usually equate to about 40-50 a day depending on experience. Now after the Invention of the Shoe Lasting Machine that number would increase to about 700 pairs a day during his time. This was monumental for Mr. Matzeliger and the Shoe Industry as a whole. It also created many jobs and lowered the costs associated with the manufacture and purchase of shoes.


Modern Day Shoe Lasting Machine.

Editor’s Note: Going from making shoes from hand to a Machine was and still is a big deal. The process of attaching the lower & upper parts of the shoe used to be so time consuming, especially since each shoe had to be sized by the customer first because they were being made by hand, not anymore. With the creation of the Shoe Lasting Machine that part of the process was no longer needed the Machine provided accurate foot sizing. #Thankyou


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