M930.50.5.142 | The New Way: 300 pairs a day, 1880

The New Way: 300 pairs a day, 1880
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1880, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
10 x 6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Miscellaneous (671) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

Making their appearance in the 1850s in the shoemaking sector, machine tools characterized the transition from craft production to industrial production. They contributed to increased productivity and transformed work habits.

The craftsman shoemaker studied every facet of his trade during a variable period of apprenticeship. However, the division of tasks and the use of machines made it possible to employ workers who now only make one part of the shoe - always the same one.

Wage labour was accompanied by set working hours and a transformation of the rhythm of daily life. An absence from work could lead to a fine, or even a jail sentence.

  • What

    Various sorts of machines were used to prepare the leather, assemble the pieces and sew them together. The work could be dangerous because of the lack of safety instructions.

  • Where

    The transition from craft production to industrial production involved a change in the workplace. Footwear industry workers no longer worked in craft workshops, but in factories.

  • When

    In the 1880s, mechanization permitted the mass production of shoes at a cost about 50% lower than 30 years before.

  • Who

    John Henry Walker, a craftsman engraver (1831-1899), worried at the end of his life about the possible disappearance of his trade because of advances in reproduction technology.