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The Colored Inventor
A Record of Fifty Years

written by "Baker, Henry E. (Henry Edwin), 1859-"
...ise a printing machine superior to the pioneer type used at that time. This was in 1879, and he succeeded that year in inventing and patenting a printing machine that was a notable novelty in its day, though it has, of course, long ago been superseded by others. I have reserved for the last the name and work of Jan Matzeliger, of Massachusetts. Although there are barely half a dozen patents standing in his name on the records of the office, and his name is little known to the general public, there are, I think, some points in his career that easily make him conspicuous above all the rest, and I have found the story really inspiring. As a very young man Matzeliger worked in a shoe shop in Lynn, Mass., serving his apprenticeship at that trade. Seeking, in the true spirit of the inventor, to make two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, he devised the first complete machine ever invented for performing automatically all the operations involved in attaching soles to shoes. Other machines had previously been made for performing a part of these operations, but Matzeliger's machine was the only one then known to the mechanical world that could simultaneously hold the last in place to receive the leather, move it forward step by step so that other co-acting parts might draw the leather over the heel, properly punch and grip the upper and draw it down over the last, plait the leather properly at the heel and toe, feed the nails to the driving point, hold them in position while being driven, and then discharge the completely soled shoe from the machine, everything being done automatically, and requiring less than a minute to complete a single shoe. This wonderful achievement marked the beginning of a distinct revolution in the art of making shoes by machinery. Matzeliger realized this, and attempted to capitalize it by organizing a stock company to market his invention; but his plans were frustrated through failing health and lack...

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