Black Innovators, Inventors and Leaders: Jan Matzeliger

Salut =D Tout le Mode!!!

Aujourd’hui, meaning “today”, is a day well-known as the day of Amour =D Love!!! Among other things… However we will focus on LOVE! In honour of Black History Month, there was a man who found a way to expedite a tedious step to create one of my few, yet many loves… SHOES!!! I want you all to meet: Jan Matzeliger

Jan_Matzeliger Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born in Paramaribo, Dutch Guinea (currently Suriname) in 1852. He invented the Shoe Lasting Machine, it’s a device that attaches the upper portion of the shoe the sole. His talents was in his blood, given his African bloodline on his mother’s side, his father was a wealthy Dutch engineer from the age of 10 he worked with his father. By the time Matzeliger turned 20, he already left his native land for Philadelphia, Pa. working in a shoe factory then relocated to Massachusetts.

Back in those days, shoe-making was truly a craft, not everyone could just some of leather together and make a shoe. No, there was a part of the process were a specialist, aka shoe laster, was need to complete the job. This difficult task was the attachment of the upper shoe to the soles, for a proper fit. In order for this to happen, the two parts must be sewn and tacked together. Sounds simple however it was job that took a very long time to complete, which also made the prices for shoes quite expensive.

At that time, there was not a machine that could do such a meticulous procedure, it was a solely done by hand. Jan was completing about 7 pairs of shoes at the end of a work day. He recognized the tedious effort needed for a simple task. In his late 20s, Matzeliger discovered a need to solve the problem. Many days and nights was spent working on a device that would speed up the shoe-making process. His health was compromised and later caught up with him in a fatal way. On the upside to his dedication, in the early 1880s, the Shoe Lasting Machine was born.
Matzeliger_shoe_machine
Not only did the shoe lasting machine put the two parts together, placing the signature job of the hand/shoe laster, but it did so in One Minute! This totally slashed the prices of shoes, incredibly. In a 10-hour day, a hand/shoe laster would’ve made 50 pairs; where Matzeliger’s shoe lasting machine produced up to 700! It was without question this changed the shoe industry.

Unfortunately, tuberculosis got a hold of Jan and took him before he could truly reap the blessings which he had sown investing so much time, thought and energy. He left before he reached his 38th birthday, 15th September 1852 – 26 August 1889, and poor. His machine has revolutionized the shoe industry and became a multi-million dollar mechanism that supplied a growing need that everyone could afford to have.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger has definitely started a foundation where many shoe-nthusiats and the shoe industry built amazing footwear from and financially obtainable. In 1991, a Black Heritage postage stamp was made in his honour. I ❤ SHOES!!!

Au Revoir mon amies!!!

REFERENCES:

http://www.about.com
http://www.wikipedia.org
http://www.web.mit.edu

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