Friday, July 28, 2017


Shoe Last

            A colonial shoemaker made shoes from leather that he bought from a tanner. The early shoemaker sold his shoes to the middle and lower income people since wealthy people ordered their shoes from England and later from the Dutch and French after America declared its freedom from England.
The shoemaker began by Read More
carving lasts, wooden blocks made into the shape of feet. From a measurement of the customer’s foot, the shoemaker picked the nearest size foot-shaped block and made a pattern. With this guide, he cut out the parts for the shoes.
For the sole, he soaked a piece of thick leather in water all day then wrapped it in cloth through the night. In the morning he cut out a rough sole shape then beat it with a broad-faced hammer to make it more suitable for a foot.
Next, the shoemaker attached a hog bristle with wax to the end of a waxed linen or hemp thread. He then sewed the top parts together.
Unlike today’s shoes, the shoemaker turned the bottom edge of the sides to the outside and glued it above the sole.  On top of this flange, he cut a shallow channel so that the stitching wouldn’t be subject to wear. He attached the soles to the body of the shoes with wooden pegs.
The shoemaker removed shoe lasts with a special cross-handled hook. Boot lasts, being made in three sections, came apart after removing the bolt that fastened the sections together at the top. He pulled the middle one out and then could remove the others.
With a smooth, curved iron which had been heated over a tin lamp, the shoemaker put a finish on the heel and the edge of the sole. The top part of dress shoes, he blackened and waxed. Work shoes just received a coat of tallow.
             A pair of shoes took one person eight to ten hours to make. A pair of shoes in the late 1700s might cost about 40 cents.


1999 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute participants. “An 18th-Century Trades Sample: Shoemaker,” Colonial Web 30 Aug. 2016 <>

Chin, Cynthia E. “18th-Century Shoemaking.” Mt., Feb 19, 2015. Web Video 30 Aug. 2016. <>

Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Shoemakers. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1967. Print.

History Myths Debunked. September 7, 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <> Jas.

“Shoe Styles of the 18th Century.” Mt., Feb 19, 2015. Web Video 30 Aug. 2016  <>

Theobald, Mary Miley. “Revisited Myth #25: “Pop Goes the Weasel” is a cobbler’s work song.” 

Townsend and Son, Inc.” Installing Shoe Buckles.” Feb 21, 2009. Web Video 30 Aug. 2016

Tunis, Edwin. Colonial Craftsmen and the Beginnings of American Industry. New York: The World Publishing Co., 1965. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment