Jan Matzeliger (1852-1889) invented an automatic method for creating shoes. Born in Surinam he came to the United States at 19 and secured an apprenticeship at a shoe factory. This gave him the inspiration for his invention as the shoe industry was consistently stalled by the labor intensive job to build lasts-wooden molds shaped like the customer's foot. His lasting machine could turn out up to ten times more pairs of shoes per day than a single hand laster. This made shoes cheaper and more readily available to a greater number of people.
A 29-cent stamp honoring Matzeliger was issued on September 15, 1991, in Lynn, Massachusetts. Designed by Barbara Higgins Bond, the stamps were produced in the photogravure process by the American Bank Note Company and issued in panes of fifty.
This stamp is part of the Black Heritage Stamp Series. Initiated in 1978, the USPS continues to issue a stamp featuring a notable Black American every February in conjunction with Black History Month and at other times during the year.
Reference: Postal Bulletin (August 22, 1991)
Scott Catalogue USA: 2567
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Museum ID: 1993.2015.160