Occupation of Cordwainer, Shoe Maker & Boot Laster.
What Is A Cordwainer And What Is Their Background?
term "Cordwainer" is an Anglicization of the French word cordonnier,
introduced into our language after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. The
word itself is derived from the city of
Cordoba, in the south of Spain, a
stronghold of the mighty Omeyyad Kalifs until its fall in the 12th century.
Moorish Cordoba was celebrated for two staple trades in the early Middle Ages,
silver-smithing and the production of
(cordovan) leather, called "cordwain" in England.
Originally made from the skin of the Musoli goat, then found in Corsica,
Sardinia, and elsewhere, this leather was "tawed" with alum after a
method supposedly known only to the Moors. English Crusaders brought home much
plunder and loot, including the finest leather the English shoemakers had ever
seen. Gradually cordouan, or
cordovan leather became the material most in demand for the finest footwear in
Cordwainer, meaning shoemaker, first
appears in 1100. By the late 13th century a distinction grew in England between
Cordwainers. proper, called alutari, who used only
alum "tawed" cordwain,
and another class of shoemakers called basanarii,
who employed an inferior "tanned" sheepskin which was prohibited for
footwear apart from long boots. Since this period
or cordovan leather, has been applied to several varieties of leather. Today
cordovan leather is a "vegetable tanned" horse "shell," and
like the Medieval cordwain is
used only for the highest quality Shoes.
the Middle Ages the title of
Cordwainer has been selected by the
shoemakers themselves, and used rather loosely; however, generally it always
refers to a certain class of shoe and boot-
The first English guild of shoemakers who called themselves
"Cordwainers" was founded at Oxford in 1131.
"Cordwainers" was also the choice of the London
shoemakers, who had organized a guild before 1160, and the Worshipful Company
of Cordwainers has likewise used this title since receiving their first
Ordinances in 1272.
"Cordwainer" not "Cobbler"
by Cordwainers since
times is, that
a Cordwainer works only with
leather, where a Cobbler works with old. Cobblers have always been repairers,
frequently prohibited by law from actually making shoes. Even going so far as to
collect worn-out footwear, cut it
apart, and remanufacture cheap shoes entirely form salvaged leather, Cobblers
have contended with Cordwainers since at least the Middle Ages. In 16th century
London the Cordwainer's solved their conflicts with the Cobblers of that city by
placing them under the powerful authority of the Cordwainer's guild, thus
merging with them.
Whenever shoemakers have organized, they have shown a clear
preference for the title "Cordwainer," conscious of the distinguished
history and tradition it conveys. Today's Cordwainer is no exception. The
current generation of boot and shoemakers includes a growing number of self-employed tradesmen and women, who having
early hand-sewn techniques supplemented by only a few
simple machines out of economic necessity, continue to practice the traditional
skills established centuries ago.
In the face of declining domestic footwear production every
year, it can be easily said that the true future of this trade lays in its
past, and is being insured by the skilled hands of these modern Cordwainers.
“Boot Laster “
A person who makes a shoemaker's model for shaping or repairing a boot.
Baston style of Shoe
Arch Shoes “Baston”
This style of shoe is found for
sale until quite recently (2005) at “www.dillard.com” a USA shoe specialist
“Baston black Nubuk leather, latex sole
Arch boot – Baston, black
has a washable shoe-upper of
leather and a walking sole of pure Latex. The closure is a zipper in the front
over the instep.
Another style is also available in 3 variations from the same