A shoe cobbler is a person who mends and repairs shoes. The profession has been around for most of human history. Some people assume that cobblers and shoemakers (called cordwainers in England) are the same profession, and while that may be true today, it wasn’t always so.
At one time, shoemakers/cordwainers were the skilled artisans tasked with making shoes out of brand new leather, while cobblers were the ones who repaired shoes. In fact, cobblers were forbidden from working with new leather and had to use old leather for their repairs. The difference between the two trades was once considered so vast, it was a serious insult to call a shoemaker a cobbler (the latter of which, not so coincidentally, is a term that also means to work clumsily or bungle).
The shoemaking and cobbler trades were forced to merge around the beginning of the 19th century when the introduction of mass manufactured shoes left shoemakers out of work and having to accept lower paying repair jobs.
Some of the earliest styles of shoes made in human history include sandals and moccasins. Wooden shoes, pegged construction shoes and English welted shoes came later.
The first English cordwainers to arrive in America came in 1607 and settled in Jamestown, Virginia.
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