Christian Dancel

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Christian Dancel (February 14, 1847 – October 13, 1898), was an inventor.

Dancel was born in Kassel (or "Cassel" until 1926)), Germany, where he learned mechanical engineering and machinist trades in polytechnical schools. In 1865, within two years of his emigration to New York City, he had invented a machine for sewing shoes.

Charles Goodyear Jr. bought the rights to this machine and employed Dancel as superintendent of his factory. Soon thereafter Dancel theorized, created and patented many shoe-construction machines and associated devices. These included a machine to sew a turned shoe (one of which was converted into a stitcher) and stitch a shoe's out soles. In 1874, he created and installed on it a shoe welt guide to stitch shoe welts. This machine, purchased by his employer, is currently in use today with only minor improvements to it added.

Then in 1876, he simultaneously opened his own shop of patented machines used to finish shoes and invented (at the Goodyear Company's request and over an eight-year time span) a machine with a curved needle which sewed a shoe's outer sole and upper with a Lock stitch while the shoe was on the last (an improvement over the previous model). He presented it to the Goodyear Company in 1885. He followed this in 1891 with a straight-needle machine delivered a year later. Around 1895 he developed the Brooklyn-based Dancel Machine Company. Just prior to his death he created a machine which performed all of the aforementioned functions plus stitched the in-sole, all caught with one stroke of the needle.

Dancel's solution of various shoe-related stitch-forming problems is the foundation upon which the current Goodyear Welt system is based. He also co-patented machines designed to manufacture barbed-wire fencing, skive, gage and mark leather, create leather buttonholes, rub type, and remove bristles from sealskins.

He died in Brooklyn, New York.


  • Johnson, Allen & Malone, Dumas (ed.'s). Dictionary of American Biography. vol. III. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, N.Y. 1959.