How do shoemakers learn their craft

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Today, shoes are among the oldest items of clothing in human history, and with them the shoemaking trade is one of the oldest guilds. In times of mass production and assembly line work, this traditional craft is more and more forgotten. Reason enough for us to take the time to explore the mutual history of shoemakers.
In the faint glow of an oil lamp, the shoemaker sits hunched over his groin, surrounded by pincers, nails, hammer, file and straps. A bucket full of water rests under his workbench, in which he soaks a sponge from time to time to keep the leather soft and pliable. It is not uncommon for the distinctive leather smell to mix with the fine aroma of a basil pot, too Orange tree of the shoemaker called, which was once to be found in many workshops. Her clientele were extremely resourceful in terms of her naming and named her Boot shoemaker,Shoe tiler or even Leather goldsmithThe first shoemakers were still handling papyrus and reeds.


The beginning of the art of shoemaking


Thousands of years ago people wrapped makeshift hides and animal skins around their bare feet to protect themselves from sharp stones, thorns and the cold. This individual handling, however, served mainly to support one's own life and did not represent a fixed profession. On the order list of the very first shoemakers, however, were sandals, which was mainly due to the geographical conditions. Images from ancient Egypt that have survived to this day show sandal manufacturers at work. Those shoemakers usually made the airy, light footwear out of leather or plaited straw and made the straps out of palm leaves, cane or reeds. For the high-ranking clientele, which included officials and other dignitaries, on the other hand, sandals with gold decorations were specially made.
The craft of shoe manufacturing found its first heyday in ancient Greece. There the shoemakers not only maintained their own profession, but also enjoyed a certain fame. In smaller villages they even ensured the existence of their community. Emperor Pompilius (715-672 B.C.) finally attached particular importance to the craft and even dedicated a class of its own to it. The so-called sutores - Latin for cobbler or cobbler - made up the fifth of a total of nine electorate. Around five centuries later, the martyrdom of two shoemakers led to the formation of saints, who are still venerated as patron saints in some guilds.


Legend of Saint Crépien and Saint Crépinien


According to tradition, those two brothers from a Roman patrician family professed Christianity under the rule of Diocletian (243-313 B.C.E.). Commissioned by Pope Caius himself to spread their faith in Galicia, Crépien and Crépinien settled in Soisson as shoemakers. When the local Roman general Maximianus Herculeus urged them to renounce their "pagan idol", the two of them refused even under torture. Tied around their necks with a heavy millstone, the brothers would eventually be drowned. But miraculously the stone loosened and the cobblers reached the safe shore. To avoid such an unexpected turnaround, Maximianus had the two beheaded without further ado and threw their bodies to the vultures. But even the birds did not really want to comply with the general's will and the bodies of Crépien and Crépinien remained intact. Having become aware of those miraculous events, the Bishop of Soissons finally had her remains brought to the basilica, which would later become known as the Abbey of Saint-Crépin-le-Grand. A millennium later, King Charles the Wise even named the two brothers patron saints and founded the brotherhood of shoemakers. To this day there are monuments erected for them in the parish churches. But enough of the divine patronage and back to the craft.


Shoemaker under duress


Measured in terms of hygienic aspects, a truly dark episode, the shoemaking trade in the Middle Ages had a true success story. In France in the 13th century, shoe production already comprised four separate guilds, each with different characteristics. While the cordouaniers (French: shoemaker) who were familiar with the special requirements of Korduan leather - better known today as Cordovan leather - took over the soueurs the final steps in leather treatment. They were responsible for cutting the leather. The savetonniers In contrast, they made lightweight low shoes, and under threat of punishment they were forbidden to use any other leather than sheepskin they had tanned themselves. Finally, the so-called shoe repairers (savetiers) only be satisfied with the repair of old shoes.
With the establishment of those guilds, the regulations for shoemakers were tightened - fixed prices were set, quality controls were introduced, working hours were set and the approval of journeymen was more closely monitored. As early as the Middle Ages, the guilds and with them the shoemakers were trained in such a way that they had their own jurisdiction, administration and sometimes even police powers. Often the shoemakers called themselves Cobbler for old and newWhich ultimately meant nothing more than that they repaired old kicks as well as making new shoes.


A life on the move


As recorded in a literary work, it was common among apprentices at that time to go on a journey after completing their training and to learn from other master shoemakers. The apprenticeship years initially extended to six long years, but in the course of the 17th century the training was shortened to a manageable eighteen months. Anyone who successfully presented their masterpiece in front of a commission and achieved the championship title could finally win the guild themselves. Nevertheless, until well into the 18th century, the newly qualified master shoemakers were prohibited from setting up their workshops in the same city in which they had completed their apprenticeship. When the guild system lost more and more of its importance, the state took over the trade inspectorate and these regulations also disappeared.
With the 20th century, the profession was divided more and more according to the respective type of shoe and was completely revolutionized in the course of the invention of the sewing machine. With the industrial production of shoes, shoes ranked in many circles as a simple throw-away product. Disregarding orthopedic shoemakers, there are a few hundred shoemakers in Germany today who still practice their traditional craft. State-of-the-art equipment may increase the demands on this profession, but its work still guarantees a unique product that is manufactured with great attention to detail and meticulousness.
We at SHOEPASSION.com not only want to arouse our customers' passion for high-quality, Goodyear welted shoes, but also set an example against the modern throwaway society. With our own shoe repair service, we not only restore shoes from our collection to their original shine, but also accept high-quality shoes from other brands.