I'm fascinated with the trades of the 18th century. So many important jobs had to be done everyday just to keep people's lives running. Of course, that's not unlike today, but the jobs back then--though similar in some respects were oh, so different.
Today I want to talk about the shoemaker. This humble profession was anything but dreary and certainly not looked down upon as one might thing. The shoemaker was an integral part of the community. From the lowly farmer to the high-society nobleman, everyone needed shoes-- and so everyone visited the shoemaker. Granted, if you were ultra wealthy you may have hired-out your own personal shoemaker, but that certainly wasn't the norm.
The tools needed for the trade were inexpensive for the most part, and easy to obtain if you lived next to a larger city where imports from England were a regular occurrence. For a journeyman shoemaker it would have been an inexpensive trade to start, whereas other trades such as printing or blacksmithing would have been very difficult financially.
Like today, you could often walk into a shoemaker shop and find already made, popular-styled shoes in various sizes. (Like the ones pictured at the top of this post--hanging in the shop window.) If you couldn't find what you were looking for, you could have them custom made, but then of course you would have to wait a day or so, depending on the workload of the shop. Everything from riding boots, to soldiering boots, to every-day shoes, to children's shoes, to women's dress shoes--the shoemaker made them all. And though at times we look at the shoes from that century and wonder how they could be at all comfortable, having been made with leather (though some were made of fabrics, etc) that conforms to your feet, I imagine they weren't quite as bad as we think. Yet, without proper souls and arch support . . . who knows! Perhaps they were terribly uncomfortable. I've never worn a pair, so I can't speak from experience. (Makes me curious though . . .)
What do you think of this trade? Is it something you would have been interested in? Personally, I think it would have been fun, creative and rewarding.
There is another excellent and recent post about this trade by Susan Craft, and her post can be seen here if you are looking for additional information.
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!