Jan Ernest Matzeliger, Inventor   Leave a comment

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (September 15, 1852 – August 24, 1889) was an African-American inventor in the shoe industry.

Matzeliger was born in Paramaribo (then Dutch Guyana, now Suriname). His father was a Dutch engineer and his mother a black Surinamese slave. He had some interest in mechanics in his native country, but his efforts at inventing a shoe-lasting machine began in the United States after a life of working in a machinery shop. He settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 19 after working as a sailor. By 1877, he spoke adequate English and had moved to Massachusetts.

After a while, he went to work in a shoe factory. At the time, no machine could attach the upper part of a shoe to the sole. This had to be done manually by a “hand laster”; a skilled one could produce 50 pairs in a ten-hour day.[1]

After five years of work, Matzeliger obtained a patent for his invention in 1883.[2] His machine could produce between 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day, cutting shoe prices across the nation in half.[2] However, his early death in Lynn, Massachusetts from tuberculosis mean’t he never saw the full profit of his invention.

In recognition of his accomplishment, he was honored on a postage stamp on September 15, 1991.[3]

== Patents ==:)

  1. 274,207, 3/20/1883, Automatic method for lasting shoe
  2. 421,954, 2/25/1890, Nailing machine
  3. 423,937, 3/25/1890, Tack separating and distributing mechanism
  4. 459,899, 9/22/1891, Lasting machine
  5. 415,726, 11/26/1899, Mechanism for distributing tacks, nails, etc.
  6. 123,456, 11/19/1888

Posted February 15, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in First to Accomplish, Inventors

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