Almost every day we tie shoelaces on our own or children's shoes, but we never think about what story is hidden behind this familiar detail. But the laces can boast not only the title of the most profitable invention of all time, but also the role of the muse for artists, writers and inventors.
The very word “cord” came to us from the German language, in which it means a fairly thin twine, wire or rope. However, the lace in the form to which we are accustomed - with knobs at the ends - was invented in England. It was presented to the public by a certain inventor of 27 on March 1790. A pair of ropes with metal tips that prevented her from messing up and allowing her to easily pass the laces into the holes on the upper part of the shoe caused a furor and was immediately recognized as necessary in everyday life. And not surprisingly, before the formal invention of shoelaces, ladies and gentlemen had to suffer with buckles and buttons. The popularity of shoelaces led to the fact that at the end of the XIX century they were recognized as one of the most profitable inventions.
However, the method of fixing shoes using becheva was known to mankind even before British scientists. The ancient Greeks and Romans used ropes for boots and sandals. In the same way, shoes were laced in Asia. In Russia, the ancestors of the shoelaces were the so-called obor, with the help of which simple people secured bast shoes on their feet. Fragments of bast, hemp, linen, wool or leather were threaded into two or one loop on the back of the bast shoes and allowed to wrap them crosswise around the leg to the knee.
In medieval Europe, knobs were used only for clothing. They were made from various types of bast, leather, cotton, hemp, jute, and for tying master's outfits they made laces from nubuck and silk. There is a legend according to which Christopher Columbus, having arrived in Cuba, sold to the islanders laces for clothes for gold bullions. True, some historians are convinced that Columbus did not sell laces, but copper seals for their ends. The natives made jewelry from them and proudly wore necklaces of copper tubes around their necks.
No matter how much rope you twist ...
The tight ends of the shoelaces, for which the natives were once ready to exchange gold bullion, today are called “knobs”, “lacing”, as well as “little caps” or “eglets”. They are metal or plastic and greatly facilitate the slipping of laces in shoes, and also protect the ends from unraveling. Shoelaces themselves are round and flat, with and without a core, with and without impregnation. There are also many types of machine weaving. Shoelaces are used mainly in sports shoes and differ from flat ones in that they are often untied. The same drawback is inherent in shoelaces made of synthetic materials, which nevertheless have bоlower strength and abrasion resistance, which means they last longer.
By some estimates, there are almost 2 trillion lacing methods for shoes with 12 pairs of holes. And the Australian scientist Burkard Polster, using combinatorial mathematics, proved that shoes with 7 pairs of holes can be laced with "just" 400 in millions of ways. In addition to the most common zigzag lacing method, experienced shoe-lovers also use methods that make it possible to quickly lace up or undo shoes, not to wrinkle when lacing shoes, and even easily cut the lacing with a knife in case of a leg injury. The latter is especially true for the military.
In vain they say that the laces have not changed at all over the past few centuries, because they never disappear from the field of view of inventors. With the help of innovations, luminous shoelaces and “spring” shoelaces appeared not so long ago. The former helps to find shoes in the dark, while the latter allows children to shoe without adult help. In August 2012, Russian designer Alexei Chugunnikov invented "heated" shoelaces. They are made of refractory material that will dry the shoes if the ends of the laces with insulating caps are connected to a special controller and inserted into a power outlet.
Shoelaces inspire not only inventors, but also artists and designers. Colombian sculptor Federico Uribe created a series of surrealistic paintings from them, and the American Colin Hart made ten pairs of laces from silver and gold threads. They became the most expensive shoelaces in the world, but so far nothing has been heard about the buyers of this accessory worth 19 thousand dollars per pair.
Laces sometimes deserve the honor of being mentioned in the literature. In Agatha Christie’s novel “N or M?”, A spy put shoelaces soaked in a special composition into a glass of water to get invisible ink. Perhaps it was this new secret role of shoelaces that served as the basis for the slang “shoelaces in a glass” meaning “parents at home”. This phrase, by the way, was not invented by teenagers at all, but by the presenters of the Russian television program of the 90's “Before 16 and older”. But the euphemism “Now, I just stroked my shoelaces” is a natural product of Russian speech, which is sometimes used with the continuation of “I will lace up galoshes” and means a sarcastic refusal to do anything.
As you can see from the history of shoelaces, some of the details of our everyday life turn out to be much more interesting than we think about them.
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