A correspondent writing to us from Boon-ville, Ark., complains bitterly and justly of the miserable character of the leather employed in common boots and shoes. He states that public opinion, or special law, should be brought to bear in putting down the use of split leather for feet clothing—it may answer well enough for carriage tops and cushions. He says: " Good leather, if left whole, is tenacious, and nearly waterproof, but when split, its tenacity and water-proof quality are destroyed. If we take a thick piece of woolen cloth, and split it through the middle, how long will it last ? It will soon go to shreds. It is the same in degree with leather; the fibres of it are interlaced, and bound firmly together, but by splitting, they are severed, and their mechanical adhesiveness destroyed." He complains severely of the boots and shoes made in the East, and sent to Alabama. He says: " One of every pair of shoes is generally made with a bad forepart and a good hindpart, and the other vice versa;" the re- sult is that the one with the bad forepart is much sooner worn out than the other, but both have to be thrown away together. " I need annually," he says, " six pairs of this miserable sort of store shoes, costing here about two dollars per pair; and from the very start they cannot keep my feet dry, all because they are made of split, and ill-selected leather. If the leather were not split, it would last twice as long. If I could get better leather (unsplit), I could afford to pay a higher price for it, and it would not cost me any more for shoes per annum, because I would not require so many pairs; at the same time it would be much better for me, because they would keep my feet dry." Our correspondent, we believe, has good reasons for complaint in regard to the use of split leather in shoes. But who is to blame for this ? Shoemakers furnish just such goods as the market purchasers demand; some cheap and poor—others good, and of high price. If storekeepers would not buy poor shoes, of course manufacturers would not make them.
This article was originally published with the title "Bad Shoe Leather" in Scientific American 13, 21, 168 (January 1858)