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History of Shoes

The history of human development shows that the importance of protecting the foot was early recognized. There is much evidence that a foot covering was one of the first things made by our primitive ancestors. Necessity compelled them to invent some method of protecting their feet from jagged rocks, burning sands, and rugged terrain over which they ranged in pursuit of food and shelter. Records of the Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and other early civilizations all contain references to shoes.

The earliest designs were simple affairs, often mere "foot bags" of leather to protect the feet from rocks, debris, and cold. Since a shoe uses more leather than a sandal, their use was more common amongst people in cold climates. By the middle ages turn-shoes had been developed with toggled flaps or drawstrings to tighten the leather around the foot for a better fit.
BaboucheShoes of one sort or another are rich in legend and figure conspicuously in the folklore of different races. The shoe, even up to the present time, continues to figure in those stories which have come down to us. The stories of the wonderful Seven League Boots, Mercury's Winged Sandals, Puss in Boots, Cinderella, and others, all existed in some ancient and often nearly forgotten tongue, but are still well known to all children. The custom of throwing the shoe after the newly wedded couple is but one of the many instances in which the shoe, when used according to formula, was supposed to bring luck.

The sandal still is the most generally worn type of footwear in many warm countries. In form and ornamentation it reflects the environment in which it was worn, together with the artistic tastes of the peoples. In some countries the sandal continues to be the same simple kind worn since the dawn of history, while in others the multiple forms of the straps and beautiful decorative work reflect the artistry, progress and prosperity of the wearers.
Woman's Krepis(left) and Officer's Laced Campagus(right)
In the more luxurious days of the late Roman Empire the sandals were often beautifully wrought with ornaments of gold and precious stones. As Europe gained in wealth and power, fancy shoes became status symbols. Toes became long and pointed, often to ridiculous proportions. Artisans created unique footwear for rich patrons, and new styles developed. Eventually the modern shoe, with a sewn-on sole, was devised. Since the 17th century, most leather shoes have used a sewn-on sole. This remains the standard for finer-quality dress shoes until today.

The shoe has always had an important place in costume. Until recent years, many shoes were made to be worn only on occasions of great ceremony. Some of these were very lavish in design and adornment, lending importance and distinction to the official dress of proud wearers.

Through all this development, comparatively little attention was devoted to fitting qualities or comfort. When the medieval guilds controlled craftsmanship in Europe, perfection in workmanship and extravagance in style seems to have been sought in shoes rather than foot comfort and protection.
Krepis(left) and Pedila(right)
Up to 1850 all shoes were made with practically the same hand tools that were used in Egypt as early as the 14th century B.C. as a part of a sandal maker's equipment. To the curved awl, the chisel-like knife and the scraper, the shoemakers of the thirty-three intervening centuries had added only a few simple tools such as the pincers, the lapstone, the hammer and a variety of rubbing sticks used for finishing edges and heels.

Efforts had been made to develop machinery for shoe production. They had all failed and it remained for the shoemakers of the U.S to create the first successful machinery for making shoes. In 1845 the first machine to find a permanent place in the shoe industry came into use. It was the Rolling Machine, which replaced the lapstone and hammer previously used by hand shoemakers for pounding sole leather, a method of increasing wear by compacting the fibers.
Shoe PincerFor centuries it was the hand, shoemaker's only tool for shaping the shoe around the form on which it is made - aided only by his thumbs and tacks, Advances in rubber, plastics chemicals and industrial adhesives all allowed manufacturer’s to be experimental and more creative in their shoe making approach. Leather, which had been the primary source material, has remained the most favorite among shoe makers. Outsoles, which were once laboriously stitched on, are now more often glued. Anyhow we have come a long way from the lasting pincer, a simple combination of gripper and lever to mechanized, robotic kind of machines which are used in shoe making today.

Shoe Etiquette
In most parts of the world (Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of the Middle East and Africa, much of Northern Europe and Canada, as well as Alaska) it is customary to remove shoes when entering a house. In some areas of the United States, especially the Midwest, it is expected that visitors remove their shoes unless a host specifically invites them to leave their shoes on. People do this to avoid bringing dirt, mud or snow into the house. For some societies, including those in Asia, indoor footwear may be provided for guests.

In parts of Asia it is considered rude to show the outsoles to others (even accidentally, such as by crossing the legs) and throwing shoes at somebody is considered an insult in Middle East.

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