Bring Out Your Inner Can-Do Cobbler Monster

Circa 1913, we’re about to make some shoes


Like to make shoes? Thinking of making shoes? Consider the humble shoe manufacturing machine. Now imagine a shoe machinery trade catalog, printed in red, green, violet, blue, and gold. Pretty exciting, eh? Well, perhaps not, but still, in this catalog dated c. 1913, setting up a shoe shop in early 20th century America is getting colorful. World War One is still about 365 rumbles of a mortar shell away. Bring out your inner can-do cobbler monster. It’s time to kit up your new cobbler cave.


What we are talking about —[The Keighley Co., Inc.]; [Chas. Keighley; W. B. Keighley; C. Percy Keighley] The Keighley Co., Inc. Manufacturers of Shoe Machinery and Supplies. [Likely Vineland, New Jersey: Keyco Press, c. 1913]. [23]ff. Pamphlet; two brass brads. Embossed pictorial stiff-paper wrappers printed in red and blue. Illustrations. Text printed in various colored or metallic inks. Irregularly foliated.


The Keighley Co., Inc. of Vineland, New Jersey was in the business of putting you in the shoe business. These Vinelanders were an active and serious concern. We get the sense they could kick some serious boot. Their c.1913 trade catalog shows they sold shoe inseam trimmers, edge finishers, and rotary polishers. These items are often presented in varying single color tones. You’ll also see Keighley Co. presented an impressive line of shoemaking components such as heels, shanks, and counters.

The trade catalog appears to be mainly an assemblage of product specification leaves printed, in-house, by the company. Product and machinery images and specs are seen on one side of each leaf. On the other side, more elaborative and descriptive text explains Keighley’s machinery.

Because of how Keighley’s trade catalog was assembled, its leaves are irregularly foliated or paginated. These leaves were gathered here and held within the stiff-paper covers by two removable brass brads. In this way, the company could customize a trade catalog for a specific customer. Think of it as a 3-ring loose-leaf notebook; you might send Customer A one collection of advertisements. Customer B, hmm, let’s send them a customized trade catalog only filled with machinery of inseam trimmers and polishers.


Get periodic emails from Ian + read more about the interesting material we acquire, sell, and interpret. Try it out → here

Rare Americana is the Medium publication for Ian Brabner, Rare Americana