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Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?

DigiTrad:
PEG AND AWL
THE LONG PEGGIN' AWL


sharyn 20 Sep 04 - 10:59 PM
Bev and Jerry 21 Sep 04 - 01:04 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 21 Sep 04 - 01:18 AM
GUEST 21 Sep 04 - 05:03 AM
Kevin Sheils 21 Sep 04 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,Mingulay 21 Sep 04 - 05:21 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Sep 04 - 09:01 AM
masato sakurai 21 Sep 04 - 10:21 AM
wysiwyg 21 Sep 04 - 10:28 AM
sharyn 21 Sep 04 - 10:36 AM
GLoux 21 Sep 04 - 10:53 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Sep 04 - 11:33 AM
biglappy 22 Sep 04 - 01:17 AM
Joe Offer 22 Sep 04 - 03:15 AM
GLoux 22 Sep 04 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 23 Sep 04 - 12:09 AM
sharyn 23 Sep 04 - 02:14 AM
GUEST,Mingulay 23 Sep 04 - 11:07 AM
GUEST 23 Sep 04 - 02:50 PM
mark gregory 19 Jan 08 - 10:57 PM
Janie 20 Jan 08 - 01:09 AM
Marc Bernier 20 Jan 08 - 12:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 08 - 01:35 PM
Barry Finn 20 Jan 08 - 05:53 PM
Art Thieme 20 Jan 08 - 11:45 PM
Janie 21 Jan 08 - 12:22 AM
Flash Company 21 Jan 08 - 10:22 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Jan 08 - 01:46 PM
Janie 21 Jan 08 - 04:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Jan 08 - 11:22 PM
nickp 22 Jan 08 - 04:15 AM
nickp 22 Jan 08 - 04:16 AM
Janie 23 Jan 08 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Guest 02 Jul 12 - 04:27 PM
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Subject: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: sharyn
Date: 20 Sep 04 - 10:59 PM

Hi all -- I was singing "Peg and Awl" the other day. The version I sing is set in the 1840s, but someone else sang "1801." Does anyone know when and where this song started turning up, what the name of the shoe-pegging machine is, who invented the machine, where it was invented, etc.

Thanks for any information.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 01:04 AM

Sharyn:

Search this page for the word "peg" and it will give you some help.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 01:18 AM

Wow! I was just gonna start a new thread about this tune. It's a great song to sing, and it feels like a great sing along.

It seems like an American tune... even when 'Danu' does it... but I'm not sure if I've heard it before...

So, is this song American, or is it of UK origin?
ttr


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 05:03 AM

I don't know of a UK (or Irish) version that follows the pattern of the American song.

Avoid getting sidetracked by Harry Cox of Norfolk's song "Long Peg And Awl" which is a typical sexual imagery song and doesn't appear to be related (unless I'm missing something in the US version!).


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 05:05 AM

I don't know of a UK (or Irish) version that follows the pattern of the American song.

Avoid getting sidetracked by Harry Cox of Norfolk's song "Long Peg And Awl" which is a typical sexual imagery song and doesn't appear to be related (unless I'm missing something in the US version!).


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GUEST,Mingulay
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 05:21 AM

I don't know the song but am 99% sure it is all American as it took some time for the machinery to appear in English factories. Indeed many English factories were still using outworkers and other casual labour until well into the 20th century. My paternal grandfather was an outsole nailer around the time of WW1 and worked from home for local factories as did hundreds of others, indeed the habits of the independant worker lingered into the 20's as the first job my father had saw him going round on cobblers Monday getting the workers back into the factory from the pubs.

Incidentally, an awl can be used to make holes for a thread or a (wooden) peg, which is what the song refers to. Before the advent of machine made nails soles were what is known as "clumped on" using rough hand made nails, or, more commonly, wooden pegs. Before moulded rubber and plastics were common footwear for hazardous areas was pegged - no nails no sparks.

Great subject, great thread. Thank you Sharyn.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 09:01 AM

One of my favorite songs... sang it for many years with Luke Faust when I was living in New York. I'd be amazed if it wasn't American... I learned it from The Anthology of American Folk Music.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 10:21 AM

From folktrax:

LONG PEGGIN' AWL - "As I was a-walking one morning in May" - ROUD#2126 - REEVES EC 1960 #21 p73 Gardiner: "The Cobbler" (2 var) - LLOYD FSE 1967 p209 Cox by permission of Folktrax - KENNEDY FSBI 1975 #181 p409 Harry Cox 1953 --- COX FSS 1925 #171 p491 "The Cobbler's Boy" (Ohio) - SHARP FSSA #100 "The Shoemaker" (NC) - SING OUT Reprint vol I p38 - Cf LOMAX FSNA 1960 #144 p283 Carolina Tar Heels "Peg an' Awl" -- Harry COX rec by PK, Catfield, Norfolk 1953: CAEDMON-TC 1143 1961/ TOPIC 12-T-158 1968/ FOLKTRAX 017 & 032/ ROUNDER 11661-1778-2 p2000 - A L LLOYD (voc/ conc): TOPIC 12-T-135 1966 Cox - Ewan McCOLL: ARGO ZFB-67 1968 Cox - Barry SKINNER: ARGO ZFB-34 1971


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 10:28 AM

As Masato's post (the song title) suggests, it is a specific tool called a Pegging Awl. A leather-sewing awl forces more of a slit than a round hole such as you would need for a peg. The song in this thread's discussion is usually titled and sung as Peg and Awl, but IMO it's really Peggin' Awl.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: sharyn
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 10:36 AM

Great reference, Bev and Jerry. Thank you. It looks like the machine was produced in Massachusetts by the 1860s. I know the song turned up in North Carolina by 1929 (Carolina Tarheels). Anyone know of any Massachusetts versions, or other history of the song?


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GLoux
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 10:53 AM

Hobart Smith of Virginia is the source I'm familiar with.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Sep 04 - 11:33 AM

Pegs are still used in the arch of the 'best' cowboy boots. This survival is, I believe, based more on tradition than need.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: biglappy
Date: 22 Sep 04 - 01:17 AM

Hobart Smith learned it from Kelly Harrell, a VA-NC border musician who recorded in the '20's. He recorded it in 1925 in Charlotte, NC. I think Smith's version is a lot better so don't feel obligated to try to dig up a Harrell disk.

I don't know of anything before Harrell.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Sep 04 - 03:15 AM

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index. Note that the "earliest date: 1928" refers to the earliest date of the sources covered by the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

Peg an' Awl

DESCRIPTION: "In the days of eighteen and one, Peg an' awl... Peggin' shoes was all I done, Hand me down my pegs, my pegs, my pegs, my awl." The singer describes his work(/play?), then tells how "They've invented a new machine.... Makes a hundred pairs to my one."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (recording, Carolina Tar Heels)
KEYWORDS: work technology unemployment worker
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Lomax-FSNA 144, "Peg an' Awl" (1 text, 1 tune)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 40 "Peg and Awl" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, p. 363, "Peg and Awl" (1 text)
DT, PEGNAWL*

Roud #4619
RECORDINGS:
Carolina Tar Heels, "Peg and Awl" (Victor V-40007A, 1928; on AAFM1; recorded Oct 11 1928)
Kelly Harrell, "Peg and Awl" (OKeh 40544, 1925; on KHarrell01)
Lawrence Older, "Peg and Awl" (on LOlder01)
Pete Seeger, "Peg and Awl" (on PeteSeeger13)
Hobart Smith, "Peg an' Awl" (on LomaxCD1702)
Clarence Ashley & Doc Watson, "Peg and Awl" (on WatsonAshley01)

NOTES: The notes in Lomax imply that this is a bawdy song. I suppose it's possible, but I think this is a confusion with "The Long Peggin' Awl." - RBW
Last updated in version 2.8
File: LoF144

Long Peggin' Awl, The

DESCRIPTION: A girl is berated by her mother for running away with a shoemaker. The girl retorts that the older woman did the same thing: "You followed old dad for his long peggin' awl"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1925
KEYWORDS: bawdy mother elopement
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond)) US(MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 280-281, "The Long Peggin' Awl" (1 partial text, 1 tune)
Kennedy 181, "The Long Peggin' Awl" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, LNGPGAWL*

Roud #2126
RECORDINGS:
Harry Cox "The Long Peggin' Awl" (on FSB2, FSB2CD)
A. L. Lloyd, "The Pegging Awl" (on BirdBush1, BirdBush2)

NOTES: Talk about lumping: Kennedy includes the Carolina Tar Heels' "Peg and Awl" as quoted by Lomax. I know both songs. No way. The phrase is common to them only because those two tools were found together in the kit of a shoemaker. - PJS
File: RL280

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GLoux
Date: 22 Sep 04 - 09:09 AM

Bruce Molsky recorded a nice version on his Poor Man's Troubles CD, Rounder 82161-0470-2.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 23 Sep 04 - 12:09 AM

Thread creep alert - I was just reminded of where I saw some actual pegs.

I saw a program on TV about someone looking for the graves of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

They found some falling apart remnants of boots with the heels attached using wooden pegs, and some bits of bones, but the cemetary was still in use and had been dug over and over again, so the rest of them might have been there - just rather spread out.

They showed the layers of leather and how they were put together - having little else to show.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: sharyn
Date: 23 Sep 04 - 02:14 AM

It sounds like it was recorded more than once in the 1920s, in Virginia and North Carolina. The hundred-to-one ratio in the Lomax version is not particularly accurate: according to the site that Bev and Jerry referenced, the machine can produce three to fifteen times as many shoes as an experienced cobbler can in a day. The version I sing goes:

They've invented a machine (peg and awl, peg and awl, etc.)
They've invented a machine:
I peg one, it pegs fifteen --
Throw away my pegs, my pegs, my pegs, my awl.

I'm still wondering when the machine got from Massachusetts to Appalachia and when people started making up songs about it.

By the way, "Long Peggin' Awl" is a completely different song and doesn't belong in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GUEST,Mingulay
Date: 23 Sep 04 - 11:07 AM

The point that seems to be missed here is that for the mass manufacture of footwear the old hand done operation of attaching soles with pegs was not replaced by a pegging machine but by a sewing machine which is still to this day known as a Blake stitcher. This machine stitches through the outsole and the insole which has the disadvantage of water being able to penetrate the shoe by way of the thread.

The later invention of the Goodyear welt which is sewn to the insole and the upper and protrudes from the bottom of the upper made it possible to make a more water repellant shoe, as the sole is stitched to the welt on the outside of the shoe. Indeed by using 'Veldtschoen' construction and a bellows tongue shoes can be made waterproof.

Sorry to be pedantic, but I have spent many a happy hour resewing new welts into old shoes and do know a little about the subject if not the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 04 - 02:50 PM

By the way, "Long Peggin' Awl" is a completely different song and doesn't belong in this thread.

Well in the fourth post of this thread I wrote:

' Avoid getting sidetracked by Harry Cox of Norfolk's song "Long Peg And Awl" '

but still it happened! :-)
    Yeah, Sharyn, but here at Mudcat we often cover all possibilities, so people can see what's related and what's not.

    Threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: Origins: Peg and Awl
From: mark gregory
Date: 19 Jan 08 - 10:57 PM

I've always liked the song Peg and Awl but only recently looked to find the story of mechanisation it tells

the song begins

"In the year of eighteen and one
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and one
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and one
Peggin' shoes was all I done
Hand me down my peg, my peg and awl"

By the third verse the song gets to the invention of a new machine that does away with the hand pegging of shoes with:

"They invented a new machine
Peg and awl
They invented a new machine
Peg and awl
They invented a new machine
Prettiest thing I ever seen
Throw away my peg, my peg and awl"

It seems to me that the dates in the song don't accurately document the history of shoe making.

Up to 1845 shoes were made with hand tools, the curved awl, the chisel-like knife and the scraper, the pincers, the lapstone, the hammer and a variety of rubbing sticks used for finishing edges and heels.

In 1845 the first machine used in the industry was the rolling machine for compacting the leather and replacing the lapstone and hammer previously used for pounding sole leather.


In 1846 Elias Howe invented the sewing machine.


In 1858, Lyman Reed Blake, a shoemaker, invented a machine for sewing the soles of shoes to the uppers. His patents were purchased by Gordon McKay, who improved upon Blake's invention.

Perhaps the song refers to the the "Lasting Machine" invented by the Black shoe maker Jan Matzeliger while working at McKay's. In March 1883, the United States Patent Office issued him a patent. Within two years, Matzeliger had perfected the machine so that it could produce up to 700 pairs of shoes each day (as compared to 50 per day by hand).

A 1920 advertisement for shoe manufacturer W.L.Douglas shows him as a seven and eleven year old child hand pegging shoes, and wheeling leather in a barrow. This backs up an 1850s argument best as William Lewis Douglas was born in 1845 and apprenticed to a shoemaker when he was seven, pegging shoes in 1852.

The song rhymes the same if we start it in the in 1851 or 1881! Since Matzeliger's invention is the one that best fits the line "Pegs a hundred pair to my one" maybe we should sing "In the year eighteen eighty one" and work up from there.

It's a great example of an "industrial song" and perhaps one of the few that rejoice in a new labour saving machine.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Janie
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 01:09 AM

I don't know about the 'rejoice' bit. I think it is more about the worker being supplanted by technological progress - a stoic lament.

I'm guessing whoever originated the song started with 1801 simply because it scanned well,

Many people don't realize it, but pre-civil war, and post civil war, North Carolina was a major manufacturing state. Pre-civil war, it manufactured more goods than most, if not all, of the northeast states. Cotton mills, furniture, and leather goods, including shoes, harnesses, etc. were a big part of the picture.   I think it very likely the song originated in fairly near proximity to where it was collected. The economic history of NC and southern VA could easily have given arise to it, and it's sound and structure, and ease with the banjo suggest a southeast, rural industrial origin.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 12:57 PM

Interesting! I had always assumed the song came from New England. My Grandfather worked as a Mechanic in a Boot shop in The Amoskeag Mill During the 30s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 01:35 PM

Any evidence of the song before about 1920?


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 05:53 PM

I just started singing this after hearing Elizabeth LaPerral do a great version of this on her new CD "Lizard In The spring".

Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 11:45 PM

I did this song ever since learning it in the late 1950s from Pete Seeger's LP titled AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL BALLADS on Folkways Records---a great collection.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Janie
Date: 21 Jan 08 - 12:22 AM

Marc, I should have said it is very plausible that the song originated in the rural industrial region of North Carolina (or southern Virginia) instead of 'very likely.'   It could have originated in New England or the Northeast and made it's way to the hill country in the process of attempts at union organizing, which, I believe was going on pretty strongly in the mining regions of WV, and Virginia and in the textile mills of Virginia and North Carolina. Kelly Harrell was a textile worker and very like encountered union organizers in the 1920's.

But the lyrics of the song sound a bit pre-union to me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Flash Company
Date: 21 Jan 08 - 10:22 AM

Little American guy with a face like a pickled walnut sang this one night at the Malt Shovels in Altrincham in the '70s, Can't remember who in hell he was, but he was good.

FC


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Jan 08 - 01:46 PM

Asking again, any evidence of the song before 1925?
To me, it seems like one of those mill-related songs that came out after WW1.

A pegging machine was devised as early as 1838, making pegs for sale to shoe-boot makers, but there is no reason to believe that the song dates back to that time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Janie
Date: 21 Jan 08 - 04:47 PM

From http://aceterrier.com/?p=339, I found this. He does not give any citations and I don't know anything about him (Jonathan Bogart) so don't know how reliable the assertion of the song's origins in England may be.

"Peg And Awl," though, is more traditional: a song that in various forms dates back to the Industrial Revolution in England, when mechanized mass production first began to displace skilled craftsmen (like shoemakers) and to render obsolete their professional tools (like awls). Partly because the theme of machines replacing men had only become more relevant in the years since (as indeed it has today), the song never needed much updating or refashioning; Ned Ludd would recognize it immediately.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Jan 08 - 11:22 PM

No evidence I can find that supports that assertion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: nickp
Date: 22 Jan 08 - 04:15 AM

Had a demonstration of show pegging last year at Old Salem (Winston-Salem, NC) by a long-haired student dressed in 18th Century (?) costume. Very interesting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: nickp
Date: 22 Jan 08 - 04:16 AM

That was 'shoe pegging' not 'show pegging' although I was 'shown'...


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: Janie
Date: 23 Jan 08 - 07:09 AM

Jonathan Bogart was kind enough to respond promptly to my e-mail asking his sources for the statement (posted up-thread with a link to his website.) His statement was based on the liner notes of the Folkway's anthology album that included the Tarheel's recording. The liner notes simply said the song dated back to the industrial revolution, again, with nothing to document the statement.    He assumed it was the British industrial revolution.


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Subject: RE: Origins: When/where did 'Peg and Awl' turn up?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 02 Jul 12 - 04:27 PM

I grew up on Lynn , Mass (Not that I like to admit it). Here's some info from the Lynn Historical Society......

Jan E. Matzeliger
1852-1889

"Inventor of the Shoe-lasting Machine, Jan Matzeliger not only revolutionized the shoe industry but made Lynn, Massachusetts, the "shoe capital of the world."

Before Jan Matzeliger came along, no one thought it was possible to make shoes entirely by machine. Other inventors had managed to create machines to cut out the different parts of the shoe and to sew together the leather that made up the top, but the last and hardest part still had to be done by hand. Skilled shoemakers would shape the leather upper part of the shoe over a foot-shaped wooden mold called a last and then sew it onto the sole, or bottom, of the shoe. An expert shoe laster could make about fifty pairs of shoes a day. When Matzeliger was thirty years old, he created a machine that could make 150 to 700 pairs a day…that's fourteen times as many as a skilled person!

Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852 in Dutch Guiana (now called Suriname). His father was a white Dutchman and his mother was a black Surinamer. As a child, Jan worked in his father's machine shop and developed an early interest in mechanics.

When he was 19, Jan set off to explore the world as a sailor. After two years, he arrived in the United States and began doing odd jobs in New England. By 1876, Matzeliger had settled in Lynn, Massachusetts and taken a job in a shoe factory. He worked ten-hour days there and spent his free time learning English (he was a native Dutch speaker) and joining in activities with his church.

When Matzeliger learned of the challenge of creating an automatic shoe lasting machine, he set to work on inventing one, using whatever materials came to hand—some wire, pieces of wood, and cigar boxes. His early mechanical experience and his observations in the shoe factory served him well. By 1883, he was the owner of a patent crediting him with the invention.

Matzeliger's shoe-lasting machine was so efficient that it cut the price of shoes in half after it went into production in 1885. Thanks to him, new shoes became much more affordable for average Americans.

The success of his invention came at a price to Jan Matzeliger. Weakened by long working hours, he contracted tuberculosis and died when he was only 37 years old.


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