Inventor. He invented the shoe lasting machine, which reduced the cost of manufacturing shoes by one-half. Born in Paramaribo, Suriname, he immigrated to the United States at the age of 19, eventually settling in Lynn, Massachusetts, one of the centers of shoe manufacuring in the nation. Apprenticed to a cobbler and working in a factory, he channeled a natural inclination for mechanics into discovering a way to mechanize the lasting of shoes. Lasting, the attachment of the upper part of the shoe to the sole, was still done by hand. In 1883, he applied for and received a patent for his lasting machine. His machine, which could produce 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day, versus 50 by hand, revolutionized the industry. In 1889, the same year that the Consolidated Lasting Machine Company was formed, he died of tuberculosis at the age of 37. His invention made quality footware affordable to persons worldwide.
Bio by: Garver Graver
See more Matzeliger memorials in: