Cobbler Shoemaking Tools


Antique Cobbler Shoemaking ToolsKathleen and I went to the final day of the Settlement Home Charity Garage Sale on Sunday.  We paid $3 for a box and whatever you can stuff in the box, you get to keep.  Well one of the things someone didn’t bother to notice was a set of 3 very old looking tools.  Their loss, my gain and in the box they went.  As it turns out these were Antique Cobbler Shoemaking Tools.

From the look of them they are quite old.  Now here is the really interesting part.  These Cobbler Shoemaking Tools were passed down from father (great grandfather) to son (grandfather) at least once, maybe even twice.  There was a note attached to them that read

Cobbler Shoemaking Tools – The Note

Obviously these tools had great sentimental value to Nathan before he passed away.  We love stuff like this.  Really cool history behind our finds.  It’s amazing how many interesting stories there are and when someone takes the time to share, how interesting they are to learn about.  It makes finding antiques so much more rewarding.

When ever we find something, we always try to see if there was any story behind it.  Sometimes you can have the most wonderful conversations by just asking, even if it doesn’t pertain to the item in question.

Determining The Age Of the Cobbler Shoemaking Tools

Base on our analysis of the attached note, it probably means these cobbler shoemaking tools are at least 100 years old and probably 120-150 years old.  Chances are these cobbler shoemaking tools were probably mid to late 1800s.

Next step we took was to try to find if anyone had taken pictures of similar tools using our favorite Google images, Ebay, Esty or Pinterest.

The only thing that we could find that look similar to one of the tools was a stitch marker or overstitch wheel that could have been used for shoes or saddles.  The wheel was used to mark where stitching should go.

North Bridgegate Cobbler Shoemaking ToolsThe 2 other tools could be some sort of Channelers.  Channelers were used to cut a slit into the leather for sewing.  The stitch then is sewn into the slit and closed up.  It essentially hides the stitches, thus protecting them from from abrasion.  This type of stitching creates a very durable seam.  These were used for shoe and boot soles, but also in some fine harness work and saddle stitching.

The tool that appears to be an overstich wheel looks like it came from North Bridgewater, at least that was it’s name at the time. In 1817 the inhabitants of northern Bridgewater petitioned the General Court for incorporation as a separate town. The town of Bridgewater opposed the change, and the matter was finally resolved on June 15, 1821, when the town of North Bridgewater was incorporated.

Early industries included a furnace and forge, grist- and saw-mills and textile manufacturing. The Old Colony Railroad came to town in 1846. In the early 1860s Gordon McKay improved and patented a sole-sewing machine which spurred the growth of the shoe industry in the town, and by the end of the Civil War North Bridgewater was the largest center of shoe production in the nation. Factories supplying North Bridgegate Leather Working Toolstools and materials for the shoe manufacture proliferated, and the growth of the industry led to the nickname of “The Shoe City.”

One of the greatest disasters in the city’s history was a shoe industry accident on March 20, 1905. It was the R. B. Grover & Co. shoe factory boiler explosion which killed 58 people and injured 150 others. By 1929 some 60 shoe factories employed 30,000 workers. The shoe industry in the city began to decline in the 1950s. Today only one major industry factory remains – FootJoy, established in 1857, the nation’s leading manufacturer of high-quality golf shoes.

In 1874 the town’s name was changed to Brockton, and on April 9, 1881 Brockton was incorporated as a city. It remains the only city in Plymouth County.

Based on this new information, the probable date for these tools is between 1821 and 1874, which is just about where we guessed the age of the tools would fall.  How is that for detective work?

These tools seem to be rather unique and as such might fetch a rather good price given the right collector.

We weren’t planning on keeping these cobbler shoemaking tools, but the story is so cool, we may just have to hang on them for a while.


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I share a passion for collecting all things vintage and antique and love to share that passion with others.

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