Charles Goodyear Jr. Did Not Invent the Welting Machine

Well, maybe if you want to be loose with your definition of the word “invent.”

The fact of the matter is that around 1869 Goodyear Jr, who wielded the finances of his famous father’s estate, purchased a patent from a New York shoe producer named James Hanan for a modified sewing machine that used a curved needle and awl to sew welts onto shoes without taking them off the last or penetrating the insole. This new machine offered considerable advantages over the previously popular McKay (Blake stitch machine) method, but was riddled with mechanical difficulties. Upon purchasing the patent, Goodyear hired its original inventor Auguste Destouy and another mechanic named Daniel Mills to work for him at the American Shoe Tip Company and sort out the new machine’s shortcomings. Under Goodyear’s direction and, more importantly, with his financial support the two got to work and filed no fewer than 7 different patents  between 1869 and 1876. This effort resulted in the famous 1875 patent for the welting machine that would take on Goodyear’s name

Perhaps the fact that Goodyear’s name is on the patents is the reason why he is so often credited with actually inventing the machine but most of the evidence seems to indicate that his contribution came in the way of adapting and promoting his mechanics’ work rather than doing any of the actual inventing himself. This, of course, is not to discredit his contributions as none of this could have happened without Goodyear’s involvement.

Goodyear Machine

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