Size does matter when it comes to these vintage wood shoe molds. Molds for baby shoes and molds for adult shoes. They come in all different sizes. But Jan Ernst Matzeliger would disagree that size matters because he invented the shoe-lasting machine. That’s right you would be paying a lot more for the shoes on your feet if it weren’t for him. Probably ten times the price of an ordinary shoe or sneaker.
Vintage Wood Shoe Molds
Matzeliger was born in 1852 and he died an early death at the age of 36 because he cared so much about making affordable shoes. Prior to his invention, shoes were all made by hand. For the proper fit, a customer’s feet were duplicated in a wood shoe mold which was called a ‘last’ from which the actual shoes were sized and shaped. The hardest part of making the shoe was attaching the top to the sole of the shoe. It required a lot of skill to sew them together by hand and took a lot of time to complete. It would take a top shoemaker a full ten hour day to make just 50 pairs of shoes. So you can imagine the price of a single pair of shoes at that time. Matzeliger was not satisfied with this and worked day and night for five years to create a machine that would do this task without manual labor. Once completed, his machine was able to produce up to 700 pairs of shoes a day. Quite the improvement from using vintage wood shoe molds and a skilled craftsman. Matzeliger did not take his work lightly. He often worked days on end without sleep or food until one day he caught the common cold. It soon turned into tuberculosis and he died quickly. His invention revolutionized the shoe industry but it also led to his untimely death. May his shoes rest in peace.