Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jack. Jack Wonders, “What is a Cobbler?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jack!
When you think of the types of errands that your parents run on a regular basis, what comes to mind? You've probably tagged along to the grocery store for food, the dry cleaners for laundry, the mechanic for an oil change, and maybe even the seamstress to pick up some clothes that needed mending.
We're going to take a wild guess that most of our Wonder Friends probably don't go to the cobbler very often, if ever. If you're scratching your head, you might be WONDERing what — or who — a cobbler is. In fact, some of you might be thinking of a dessert that goes great with ice cream.
The cobbler we're talking about isn't the kind you eat for dessert with a scoop of ice cream. Instead, he or she is the person you go to when you need your shoes repaired or mended. Most modern cobblers own their own small businesses known as shoe repair shops.
Cobblers have been around for about as long as people have made shoes. Although some modern cobblers also make shoes, those two professions have historically been separate. Shoemakers (called cordwainers in England) were skilled artisans who made shoes by hand out of brand new leather.
Cobblers, on the other hand, were limited to repairing shoes. In fact, cobblers were often forbidden from working with new leather. Instead, they had to use old leather to make their repairs.
The two professions began to merge around the start of the 19th century, when industrialization allowed shoes to be mass-produced. Shoemakers who found themselves out of work often turned to repairing shoes to make money.
When shoes began to be made out of plastic and synthetic materials rather than leather, the profession of the cobbler began to suffer. Today, it's still fairly easy to find shoe repair shops, but they're not nearly as common as they used to be.
Most of our Wonder Friends who normally wear sneakers made of plastic or synthetic materials might find the thought of repairing or mending shoes kind of odd. When your shoes rip, tear, or wear out, what do you do? Go buy a new pair!
Modern shoes can be difficult to repair or mend. Plus, it's often more cost-effective to buy a new pair of shoes that aren't very expensive rather than spending money on repairs. Fortunately for cobblers, there are still shoes made of high-quality leather.
If you buy a pair of expensive, high-quality leather dress shoes, you won't want to buy another pair if they get scuffed or have worn-out soles. Cobblers can re-sole shoes for a fraction of the cost of a new pair. High-quality shoes can usually be re-soled anywhere from three to ten times.
In addition to putting on new soles, cobblers can make a wide range of other types of repairs. They can even waterproof shoes to make them more durable. If your feet grow a bit, they can also stretch shoes to make them fit better and give them more life.
When they're not repairing or mending dress shoes, boots, clogs, moccasins, sandals, loafers, or high heels, they might be using their skills to repair a wide variety of other items, including zippers, belts, purses, luggage, and other leather products.