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Full text of "Gloves, past and present"

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GLOVES, PAST AND PRESENT 



GLOVES 

PAST AND PRESENT 



By 

WILLARD M. SMITH 



NEW YORK 
THE SHERWOOD PRESS, Inc. 

1917 



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COPYRIGHT, 1917 

BY WILLARD M. SMITH 

All rights reserved 






SEP 15 1917 



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©G1,A476089 



PREFACE 

TVyfOST MEN, apparently, take their gloves 
^^•*' for granted. In tliese days the little re- 
finements of civilization are accepted among 
us without a thought; but in so doing 
we lose a great deal of enjoyment which we 
never were intended to overlook. Least of all 
are our gloves commonplace. Mr. Chesterton 
has something to say about Tremendous 
Trifles. To my mind, he might have been talk- 
ing about gloves. If you choose to think of 
them as trifles, then they are tremendous. 

For thirty years I have devoted myself to 
the practical problems of the glove industry, 
and my connection with one of the substantial 
firms of master-merchant-glovers in the world 
has taught me how little gloves are known or 
appreciated by the millions of persons who buy 
them and wear them. The pursuit of glove lore 
— the historic romance of the glove — has long 
since been with me a selfish recreation. Now 
I desire to share it, as well as the practical 
knowledge, with all men and women who have 
missed seizing upon the real relation which 
gloves bear to life. 

In the work of gathering together and ar- 
ranging the material in this book, I wish to 
acknowledge my gratitude to Miss Marion 
Savage, who has collaborated faithfully with 
me, and has shared in no small degree my own 
enthusiasm for gloves, past and present. 

WILLAED M. SMITH. 
June, 1917. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTEB PAGE 

I. Why Gloves 1 

II. Ancient History of Gloves - - 9 

III. The Language of Gloves - - - 18 

IV. How Gloves Came to Grenoble - 30 
V. Glovers in the Eighteenth Century 41 

VI. Gloves in Many Marts - - - 52 

VII. From Artist to Artisan - - - 67 

VIII. Annonay and Its Industry - - 79 

IX. The Gloves We Buy .... 90 

X. Gloves of the Hour - - - 107 



GLOVES, PAST AND PRESENT 

Chapter I. 
WHY GLOVES? 

"None other symbol — the cross excepted — has so entered 
into the feelings and the affections of men, or so ruled and 
bound in integrity and right the transactions of life, as 
the glove." — William 8. Beck. 

IT is no unusual tiling to meet American 
women who are connoisseurs of the hand- 
made laces brought to this country from 
abroad. Laces, like painting or sculpture, 
are an object of stud}^; they have been raised 
to the level of the fine arts. But how often 
do we come across a woman — it matters not 
how intelligent she ma}^ be — who has any real 
standards to guide her in the selection of 
gloves? Whether we have need, in a business 
sense, of expert knowledge on this subject 
or not, nearly everybody spends enough 
money yearly on this single detail of dress 
to be interested to know just what he is 
getting. Yet, there is scarcely any other 
department of merchandise with which the 
average person has so hasty and superficial 
an acquaintance. Nor is this by any means 
the layman's own fault entirely. 

Let us look for a moment at the fabrics 
which go into the making of women's suits 
and gowns; shoes, men's shirts, carpets and 
furs: we recognize that all these long have 
been a matter of public education. Where is 
the woman who does not know the leading 
materials for coats and dresses? She maj^ 
live far from the great commercial centres. 



2 Gloves^ Past and Present 

but her women's magazine, published in New 
York, Philadelphia or Chicago, brings her 
descriptions by an expert, with colored, photo- 
graphic reproductions, of the fashionable 
novelties. As for the experienced city 
shopper, if she were tested with her eyes shut, 
simply by touching the fabric she could 
identify it in most cases and could readily 
distinguish between goods of fine and inferior 
quality. 

In the carpet department not infrequently 
a customer talks intelligently of "three 
frame" and "six frame" Brussels, or insists 
upon being shown "hand-cut" Wilton. Even 
the male shopper is not so indifferent in these 
days as not to know the names of the several 
varieties of fine cottons of which his shirts 
are made. He is aware of the difference 
between plain woven madras and crepe 
madras ; he may prefer cotton cheviot, and 
will stipulate whether it shall be the Oxford 
or the "basket" weave. But if he be really 
fastidious, the chances are that he will 
demand "soisette." In the last few years an 
amazing amount of style and seasonal variety 
have been introduced into shoes and furs. 
The result is that in these lines we feel 
obliged to be informed up to the minute. But, 
while fabrics and fashions in gloves con- 
stantly are changing, how much discrimina- 
tion do most persons display in the selecting 
of this equally important item of apparel? 

A well-dressed woman enters the glove 
department of a large shop on Fifth Avenue, 
New York. She may be an independent pro- 
fessional woman or she may be the wife or 
daughter of a man of means. In either case 



Why Gloves 3 

she should be concerned to know what value 
she receives for the money she spends. She 
asks for mocha gloves; but finding these 
rather more expensive than she had sup- 
posed, she may be persuaded to accept a 
sueded sheepskin under the misnomer of 
mocha, which substitute — could she but know 
it — is a fraud, as even the finest suedes in 
point of durability are invariably inferior 
to, while they strikingly resemble, the 
Arabian mocha. The fallacy consists in her 
not being educated to know that it is the 
genuine mocha which she requires and for 
which she should be perfectly willing to pay. 
The unqualified superiority of real mocha to 
sueded sheepskin is worth every cent of the 
difference she would put into the purchase. 
On the other hand, a man has been told 
that the only serviceable heavy glove for com- 
mon wear is the cape glove. He insists, there- 
fore, upon having the genuine cape — a name 
originally and properly used to designate 
gloves made of superior skins from the Cape 
district of South Africa. As a matter of fact, 
the soft, pliable, widely-worn glove in 
various weights, now commercially known 
as cape, is made from skins grown in many 
lands — principally lamb, tanned and dressed 
by the "napa dipped" method. In conse- 
quence of having wool hide, these skins are 
not so tough as the Cape Hope goat with the 
hair hide. One pays less for them than for 
the real cape, but, for ordinary appear- 
ance, they are a fair substitute, and their 
wearing qualities undoubtedly meet the 
average requirement. A practical saving of 
this sort the public should be taught to 
appreciate. 



4 Gloves, Past and Present 

But not for material reasons alone should 
gloves be given a prominent place in the cur- 
riculum of popular "uplift." In the most 
obvious sense they are too little known, too 
vaguely appreciated, to be sure ; and yet, the 
satisfaction of being well-gloved consists in 
something more than merely the delightful 
sensation of having one's hands neatly, 
warmly and substantially covered. We think 
of gloves first, no doubt, as a daily necessity. 
But we also value the finer qualities as a 
mark of elegance. Beautiful gloves impart 
the coup cle grace to the formal costume of 
either man or woman. At the same time, 
clinging to this luxury, like a perfume of 
old, we are dimly conscious of an aura of 
half-forgotten associations, linking the glove 
with royalty, chivalry and romance; with 
famous affairs of honor, with the pomp and 
ceremonial of the Church, with countless 
dramatic episodes in history and literature. 

How does it happen that, instinctively, we 
invest this trifle with so much meaning? Can 
it be that we are the repository of memories 
of past splendors, invoked by a familiar 
object which has all but lost its symbolic and 
poetic significance of ancient times? Even 
to-day the wearing of gloves lends to the 
individual a sense of dignity and personal 
distinction. Like Mrs. Wilfer, of Dickens 
fame, our grandeur is increased by our gloves. 

In the pages which follow we shall dis- 
cover that the background of our subject is 
one of the richest and most picturesque we 
could desire to explore. Cloves have deeply 
affected the lives of human beings from the 
very earliest periods. They have descended 



Why Gloves 5 

to us from a remote antiquity, and are in very 
fact our inherited title to nobility, for they 
were bequeathed to us by the princely prel- 
ates, the kings and over-lords of the past, 
whose chief insignia and most treasured 
badge of honor was the glove. To compre- 
hend all that they have brought with them 
down through the centuries we must retrace 
a vast deal of history, and let our imagina- 
tions play over scenes and customs far 
removed from our own day. 

We shall find the glove intimately bound 
up with the development of social usages in 
every land. To solemn observances in which 
the glove filled a special role, much of the 
impressiveness of the stately rites of the 
mediaeval church was due. The white linen 
glove on the hand of a bishop literally repre- 
sented to the people the stainless purity of 
the revered palm raised in benediction. The 
glove itself was holy. No layman dared to 
clothe his hands in the presence of the clergy. 
Kings and the military, however, wore gloves 
with quite a different meaning. In appear- 
ance, also, their gloves were utterly unlike 
those consecrated for religious use. Of heavy 
leather, elaborately tooled or decorated, or 
the mailed gauntlet which formed part of a 
warrior's armor, they signified authority, 
power, and were often conveyed from one 
prince to another as an expression of hos- 
tility, or as a promise of good faith. 

Princely etiquette, indeed, revolved about 
the glove to such a degree that the latter 
became, as it were, the proxy of its master, 
his embassador, the mute herald of the royal 
will. TVTiat a high ethical bond and pledge 



6 Gloves, Past and Present 

of honor that leathern e^gy of a ruler's hand 
actually constituted! And as the glove 
descended with the customs of feudal tenure 
from sovereign to liege lord, and became 
gradually the regalia of a growing landed 
aristocracy, how the manners of semi-har- 
harous Europe were moulded and softened 
by the glove! At first we find it the jealous 
device of the royal few. Then it becomes the 
badge of superiority among the over-lords. 
Their followers receive it; and, slowly, 
through the centuries, this fascinating bit of 
personal apparel works like leaven until it 
at last is recognized as the mark of gentlefolk 
everywhere. It spreads in proportion as 
liberty and culture are diffused among the 
people. Follow the progress of the glove, and 
you trace the growth in enlightenment and 
refinement of the nations. One of the true 
forerunners of democracy — as democracy 
means the elevating, not the levelling, of man- 
kind — the glove takes its place among the 
civilizing forces of the world. 

No small part of the importance which 
attaches to the subject of these investigations 
lies in the relation gloves bear to the history 
of modern industry. We shall find that the 
position of the glove-makers among the 
mediaeval craftsmen was unique, and of the 
utmost consequence to the industrial evolu- 
tion of Europe. The life of a French city has 
depended for many centuries upon the 
development of the glove drama. And, in 
their turn, what have not the glove-makers 
of Grenoble meant to the wealth and artistic 
prestige of France? In the annals of the 
world's trade — from the early days of barter 



Why Gloves 7 

and exchange down to the present methods 
of international commerce — gloves have 
always been conspicuous. The product in 
itself is worthy of our wonder. We may 
marvel at 'the beautiful finish, that anything 
so delicate can also be so strong; we may 
admire the style, the cut, the fit of the glove 
of to-day. And yet, the perfection of the glove 
art has by no means been reached. 

To the simple prototype of four fingers, 
thumb, palm, back and wrist, the glove- 
makers of our time have added all that makes 
the present glove elegant beyond any which 
has preceded it. Here we have, perhaps, the 
most interesting article of personal apparel 
regardless of the wearer's sex. For a glove 
is' a glove, whether it graces a woman's 
slender hand or a man's stouter member. 
The same cannot be claimed for the shoe — 
at least, not since the passing of the mannish 
girl. The high-arched, French-heeled, parti- 
colored footgear which to-day is patronized 
by the feminine species has little in common 
with the broad-built, low-last article in which 
the male walks comfortably about his busi- 
ness. The tradition of the glove, however, is 
less erratic, and equally applicable to man 
or woman. 

It is perfectly possible to out-countenance 
boredom by turning to our simplest, our most 
casually accepted, possessions. Even our 
gloves may kindle in us delight by their 
beauty, or may plunge us into the mysteries 
of the past. Gloves are history. Gloves are 
an art. Far from being the humble member 
of our wardrobe we sometimes have care- 
lessly supposed them to be, they are of exceed- 



8 GrLovES, Past and Present 

ingly ancient lineage, and have retained mucli 
of their original regal and aristocratic 
character. Though once a symbol and a cult, 
gloves have been adapted to our Twentieth 
Century needs, and the subtleties of a new 
age are finding expression in the tireless 
multiplying of the finest gloves to suit every 
conceivable occasion. 

The glove which encases your hand— no 
matter how much a part of yourself through 
daily familiarity it may seem — ^never can be 
anything but a stranger to you and unappre- 
ciated, until you know gloves. Even the sense 
of politeness and prestige which you enjoy 
is not enough; the glove legend also should 
be yours. Not without good reason are we 
inspired to live up to our gloves. 



Chapter II. 
ANCIENT HISTOEY OF GLOVES 

"A man plucked off his glove and gave it to his neighbor: 
and this was for a testimony in Israel." — Old Testament, 
Chaldaic Version: Ruth: ch. iv., vs. 7. 

GLOVES are so ancient that the first 
mention of them in literature is to be 
found in a great classic of three thousand 
years ago — the Bible. Zealous disputants in 
all kinds of causes have had a trick of twist- 
ing Holy Writ to serve the purpose of their 
arguments. But in appropriating the above 
lines from the Book of Kuth, the writer has 
not been guilty of taking liberties with the 
Scriptures — even though the passage does 
not read as he has quoted it in the King 
James Version. 

Turning to the authorized text, we find: 
"Now this was the manner in former times 
in Israel concerning redeeming and concern- 
ing changing, for to confirm all things; 
a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to 
his neighbor, and this was for a testimony 
in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto 
Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe." 

A certain learned Hebrew of high literary 
attainments, M. Josephs, a noted authority 
in the early part of the nineteenth century, 
in dealing with this passage bids us follow 
the Targum, or Chaldaic version of the Old 
Testament, which renders, instead of shoe, 
the word glove. He reminds us that the men 
who w^rote the Targum lived fifteen hundred 
years before the translators of our English 
Bible; that their rendition grew directly out 



10 Gloves, Past and Present 

of the oral interpretations and paraphrases 
of the Scriptures read in the synagogues — a 
custom which began, probably, soon after the 
return of the Jews from captivity. The 
Targumists, of course, were much closer to 
the original Hebrew usages than the mediaeval 
scribes. The disputed phrase in their ver- 
sion, narthek yad, means "the covering of 
the right hand." It is derived from the 
Hebrew text, nangal, which, employed 
verbally, means to close or enclose. The 
expression, nangal regel, is, literally, "to 
enclose the foot" and signifies a shoe. The 
use of nangal alone, however, as a noun, 
always implied an article enclosing the 
hand — in other words, a glove. There can 
be no doubt that the writer of the Chaldaic 
version accepted the term as a hand-covering, 
not a foot-covering — even specifying that the 
glove given as a testimony in Israel was 
drawn off the right hand. 

Both ancient and modern rabbinical 
scholars, we are told, agree in rendering the 
word from the original as "glove," not shoe. 
And Joel Levy, a distinguished German 
translator, gave, instead of shoe, his pic- 
turesque, native idiom of hand-schuh (hand- 
shoe) , by which gloves are known in Germany 
to this day. 

Added to etymological testimony, more- 
over, is the evidence of ancient custom. 
Gloves, in the symbolical sense, have been 
employed as a token of good faith as far 
back as history can be traced. The shoe, on 
the other hand, never is used figuratively in 
Holy Writ except to express humility or 
supine obedience. The man who wished to 



Ancient History of Gloves 11 

make a compact with Ms neighbor, as Boaz 
when he bought the lands of Kuth, must offer 
his glove as pledge in the transaction. The 
very same practice is common in the Orient 
to-day. 

Challenge by the glove also appears to 
have been customary from antiquity. In the 
one hundredth and eighth Psalm, the prophet 
in an ecstacy of triumph cries: "Over Edom 
will I cast out my glove I" Had this warrior 
of the spirit merely thrown a shoe over the 
city he had vowed to reclaim to Jehovah, 
what boastful promise would there have 
been in that? 

Among the Jews, however, three thou- 
sand years ago, gloves were by no means in 
common use. Probably they were worn only 
by men of high rank, and then solely on 
ceremonial occasions. We have reason to 
suppose that kings wore them, for in the 
mural paintings of Thebes ambassadors are 
depicted bearing from some far country* 
gifts of gloves. The women certainly did not 
wear them, for they are not mentioned in the 
exhaustive list of "bravery," enumerated by 
Isaiah (Chapter III.), the vainglorious fal- 
lals of which the daughters of Zion in their 
pride were to be despoiled on the Day of 
Doom. "Feet-rings, neck chains, thin veils, 
tires or bonnets, zones or girdles, jewels for 
the nostrils, embroidered robes, tunics, trans- 
parent garments, fine linen vests, armlets" — 
all such fineries as these must the fair Israel- 
ites relinquish at the sound of the last trump. 
Surely, had gloves been among their vanities, 
these also must have been confiscated by the 
Inexorable Judge ! 



12 GrLOVES, Past and Present 

Nearly a century after tlie Book of Ruth 
was written, Homer relates how he came 
upon Laertes, the father of Ulysses, working 
in his garden (for he was a farmer) "while 
gloves secured his hands to shield them from 
the thorns." So, we know that the early 
Greeks wore gloves. It is striking to note 
that they employed them, too, for humble 
and useful purposes. They were not monopo- 
lized by priests and kings. However, we are 
given no hint how Laertes' gloves were shaped 
nor of what materials they were made. 
Probably they resembled the modern mitten, 
for it is not until under the Roman emperors 
that we actually learn that gloves were made 
with fingers. These were called, specially, 
digitalia, to distinguish them from the 
cMrothocae, or fingerless variety. 

Virgil makes reference to gauntlets worn 
at the Trojan contests, as "the gloves of 
death"; and he describes gloves worn by 
Eryx, "composed of seven folds of the thickest 
bull's hide, sewn and stiffened with knots of 
lead and iron." 

The gloves of the Persians, we may sus- 
pect, were not of the warlike type, but were 
sported simply for luxury and display. Zeno- 
phon who, somebody has remarked, "had the 
courage of his dislikes," despised the ancient 
Persians and stigmatized them as effeminate 
because they gloried in their gloves. In his 
Cyropaedia he lays stress on the fact that on 
one occasion Cyrus was actually known to 
go forth "without his gloves"! 

Varro, contemporary of Cicero, observes 
in his De Be Rustica that "olives gathered 
by the naked hand are preferable to those 



Ancient History of Gloves 13 

pulled witli gloves on." The Epicureans evi- 
dently had adopted the theory that fruit, to 
be fully enjoyed, should not even be handled 
in the plucking. Again, among the Eomans, 
we find gloves an article of utility, worn by 
agriculturists — though it is likely that these 
hand-coverings were in the shape of mittens 
and not of the digitalia style. To the latter 
appear to have been attached far greater 
prestige. 

At the same time, the fingered gloves also 
had come to be used for a practical protec- 
tion. Pliny, the younger, speaking of the 
private secretary of his illustrious uncle, 
writes: "His amanuensis" (who accom- 
panied him on his notable journey to Mount 
Vesuvius) "wore gloves upon his hands that 
winter, lest the severity of the weather should 
make him lose any time" (from his duties as 
scribe). It is to gloves, then, that we are 
indebted in part for some of the most remark- 
able passages in the works of the celebrated 
Roman naturalist, whose scientific enthu- 
siasm eventually cost him his life in the 
eruption of Vesuvius, 79 a.d. 

Not until the age of Musonious, the philoso- 
pher, who lived near the close of the first 
century of the Christian era, do we find 
gloves among the Romans falling into dis- 
repute. Musonious ejaculates: "It is shame- 
ful that persons in perfect health should 
clothe their hands with soft and hairy cover- 
ings!" The denunciation of the dress- 
reformers of those days, however, seems to 
have had as little effect in stemming the tide 
of fashion as in our times. 



14 Gloves, Past and Present 

A truly revolting use to whicli gloves are 
said to have put — if we may believe certain 
tales of the famous story-teller, Athenseus 
(200 A.D.) — is described in a bit of ancient 
fiction in which he relates that "a well-known 
glutton," one of his own contemporaries, 
"always came to the table with gloves upon 
his hands, that he might be able to handle 
and eat the meat while it was hot, and devour 
more than the rest of the company." No 
wonder the early Fathers of the Church 
looked upon gloves as vicious and corrupting ! 
But their biting invective was directed prin- 
cipally against the effeminancy of those who 
fell victim to the pleasurable practice, and 
about the beginning of the ninth century 
ecclesiastical authority forbade the monks 
from wearing any gloves save those made 
of the tough, unyielding sheep-skin. Such, it 
was thought, could not possibly afford the 
brethren any sensuous enjoyment, nor tempt 
them into love of luxuries. 

There is an ancient story of Saint Gudula, 
patroness of Brussels, which well illustrates 
the early Christian distrust of gloves. In 
Butler's Legends of the Saints, it is related 
of this holy woman — who died in 712 a.d. — 
that one day, kneeling at prayers barefooted, 
one of the monks, moved to compassion, "put 
his gloves upon her feet" to protect them 
from the cold stones of the floor. St. Gu- 
dula, however, snatched off the offending ar- 
ticles and contemptuously tossed them ceiling 
high. And there they remained, says the 
the legend, miraculously suspended in mid- 
air for one hour. 

The first legal enactment concerning gloves 



Ancient History of Gloves 15 

occurs in tlie records of France. About 790, 
Emperor Charlemagne granted unlimited 
rights of hunting to the abbots and monks 
of Sithin for the purpose of procuring deer 
skins for making covers for their books, and 
also for gloves and girdles. The bishops, 
however, grew to feel that theirs should be 
the exclusive privilege of wearing gloves of 
such fine quality; and by the Council of Aix, 
in the reign of Louis, Le Debonnaire, the 
inferior clergy were ordered to abstain from 
deer skin and to wear only sheep skin, as 
was formerly deemed fitting for monks. 

In England gloves virtually "came over 
with the Conqueror." The French importa- 
tion — which several centuries later was to 
be the cause of such intense commercial 
rivalry between the two countries- — was the 
mailed glove of stout deer or sheep skin, with 
joined plates of metal affixed to the back and 
fingers. The early Saxons, however, wore 
gloves of a rude sort, for the derivation of 
the word from gluf is distinctly Saxon, and 
they are mentioned in the epic of Beowulf, 
composed in the seventh century, a.d. 
William S. Beck thinks that the early Britons 
may have been quick to appreciate the com- 
fort afforded by the gloves worn by their 
Koman conquerors. It is known for a fact 
that the Britons of that age wore boots of 
untanned leather, and it should be no tax 
upon the imagination to suppose that if they 
protected one extremity they probably did 
the other. 

But Professor Boyd Dawkins, without a 
doubt, has pushed the history of the glove 
farthest back of any antiquarian. Profes- 



16 Gloves, Past and Present 

sor Dawkins assures us that the cavemen 
wore gloves. He actually defines their style; 
they were "not of ordinary size," he tells us, 
"but reaching even to the elbows, anticipat- 
ing by untold ages the multi-button gloves 
of the Victorian era." Now just when did 
these pre-historic, glove-wearing men live? 
Another eminent geologist holds that they 
inhabited the south of France before they 
were driven forth by the excruciating cold of 
the glacial period. It is impossible accurately 
to fix the date of the great ice age ; Dr. CroU, 
however, and other celebrated scientists, 
appear to agree that it began about 240,000 
years ago, that it lasted about 160,000 years 
and ended somewhat over 80,000 years since. 

Here, then, is an antiquity for gloves 
which should satisfy our fondest ambitions! 
This theory also restores to France with a 
vengeance the original prestige for glove- 
making of which that country is so jealous. 
Theory, should we say? The cavemen's 
gloves, as we are distinctly told, were made 
of roughly dressed skins, sewn with elaborate 
bone needles; and an unmistakable drawing 
of such a glove was discovered by Professor 
Dawkins, rudely etched upon a bone, found 
among pre-glacial relics. 

The glove, accordingly, dates from the 
twilight of mankind. The ancient peoples 
wore gloves; and by the tenth century in 
Europe we find them in fairly general use — 
to some degree as a practical protection and 
hand-covering, but, more strikingly, as the 
badge of royal or ecclesiastical authority 
and dignity. 

The gentler sex, however, at that time had 



Ancient History of Gloves 17 

by no means come into their own, so far as 
gloves were concerned. Among tlie earlj^ 
nations men seem to liave enjoyed the 
monopoly of this article of dress, and the 
reason is plain to see, when we remember 
that gloves, in those days, were worn almost 
exclusively as part of the regalia of public 
office. The daughters of Israel, and the ladies 
of Persia, Greece, Eome and mediaeval 
Europe, adopted the voluminous sleeve which 
came down over the hand and rendered 
gloves, for practical purposes, unnecessary. 
A manuscript of the tenth century, however, 
describes a hand-covering worn by an Anglo- 
Saxon lady which resembled a muffler pro- 
vided with a separate division for the thumb. 
This was reproduced by Planche in his His- 
tory of British Costume, and is colored blue. 
But the long, flowing sleeves were customary, 
and were eA^en worn by both sexes — men in 
the ordinary walks of life, apparently, being 
compelled to content themselves with sharing 
the feminine expediency for keeping the 
hands warmly covered. For a man to be 
gloveless at that period certainlj^ spelled 
humiliation ! 

It was not until the thirteenth century that 
the ladies of Europe blossomed forth in 
gloves — not of the mitten variety, but boast- 
ing four fingers as well as a thumb. The first 
to be introduced for the fair sex were made 
of linen, of simple design, and reached to the 
elbows to accommodate the short-sleeved 
gowns of the period. Not before Queen 
Elizabeth's time, however, did the elaborately 
embroidered, be jeweled and perfumed glove 
captivate woman's fancy and satisfy her 
feminine dreams of beauty and extravagance. 



Chapter III. 
THE LANGUAGE OF GLOVES 

"Right, Caxon, right as my glove! By-the-by, I fancy that 
phrase comes from the custom of pledging a glove as a sign 
of irrefragable faith." — The Antiquary: Sir Walter Scott. 

WE are so matter of fact in these days 
that, rarely, if ever, do we speak in 
symbols. The elaborate code of the glove 
has almost entirely dropped out of use. "And 
speaks all languages the rose," the poet 
reminds us, but it is doubtful whether the 
most romantic of flowers ever conveyed such 
wealth of meaning, even between tongue-tied 
lovers, as the glove. Certainly, in addition, 
the latter has expressed a far greater variety 
of lofty sentiments not connected with affairs 
of the heart. In the Church, on the throne, 
in civil law, on the bench, in private breaches 
of honor, at festivals of rejoicing and in the 
last solemn rites accorded to the dead, gloves 
for many centuries were an important part 
of the ceremonial, and still, to-day, are not 
without meaning. 

Sometimes it is claimed that gloves became 
a symbol in the Church long before kings 
singled them out to embody a monarch's good 
faith or the royal consent. Of course kings 
wore gloves before the Christian Church 
came into being. But, as we have seen, the 
ancients seem to have attached less alle- 
gorical significance to gloves and to have 
regarded them more as a personal luxury. In 
the Orient, however, as the Bible shows, 
challenge by the glove was a recognized 
institution. Also, in the sales of lands, the 



The Language of Gloves 19 

purchaser was given a glove to symbolize 
delivery or investiture — of wliicli tlie passage 
from Ruth which heads the previous chapter 
is, probably, the most famous instance. 
From the Oriental custom Mediaeval Europe 
derived the challenge, so picturesquely em- 
ployed in history and in literature. A 
certain charter of the thirteenth century 
also names a case of re-investiture, or resti- 
tution of property, symbolically expressed 
by the person restoring the lands casting his 
glove upon the ground. 

If the Greeks and the Romans were some- 
what literal and coldly materialistic in their 
attitude toward gloves, it remained for 
mediaeval Europe to raise them to a cult. In 
the Middle Ages men had a passion for 
glorifying the common utensils of life. 
Whether it was the clergy or royalty which 
first seized upon gloves to exalt them into the 
realm of the mysterious, causing them to be 
scarcely less revered than the king's or the 
bishop's own person, it would be difficult to 
say. But, as the gloves bestowed upon the 
kings of olden France at their coronations 
were blessed and presented by the arch- 
bishop of the realm — ^who, in this act, was 
simply following the ancient Eastern practice 
of performing investiture — it would appear 
that gloves were granted by the Church to 
the thrones; and that thus the monarch 
received this sign of his sovereignty as the 
gracious gift of the Spiritual Power, which 
enjoyed precedence in honoring the glove. 

Certainly gloves were a mark of religious 
dignity at an extremely early period, and 
played a distinctive part in the rites and 



20 Gloves, Past and Present 

services of the ancient Cliurcli. Officiating 
priests invariably consecrated tlie Holy 
Sacrament witli gloves on their hands. 
This custom still obtains in the Church of 
England. Moreover, the laity always drew 
off their gloA^es within the sacred portals, 
where it was sacrilege to cover worldly hands 
even as the Fathers covered theirs. 

To teach truth by sight was one of the 
great endeavors of the mediaeval Church. We 
should not forget that the masses of the peo- 
ple in those days were untaught and child- 
like in their mental processes. The clergy 
were profound scholars, but they understood 
how to appeal to the minds of their com- 
municants; they knew that their imagina- 
tions should be impressed, that sacred 
imagery should be indelibly stamped upon 
the sensitive-plate of the soul. Not lip- 
parables only, but allegories for the eye— 
visible sjnnbols — conveyed sacred meanings 
where words could not. Thus art became 
the handmaiden of religion, and familiar 
objects were invested with hidden sig- 
nificance. In this catalogue gloves were by 
no means forgotten. 

Bruno, Bishop of Segni, tells us that the 
gloves of the clergy were originally made of 
linen to denote that the hands they covered 
were chaste, pure, without blame. In 1287, 
Durandus, Bishop of Mende, went to great 
pains to prove that the sacred chirothecae — 
for the old Latin name had been kept — 
were white. He says : "It was specified 
that by these gloves the hands would be 
preserved chaste, clean during work, and 
free from every stain." The gloves which 



The Lajq^guage of Gloves 21 

encased tlie hands of Pope Boniface VIII., at 
the time of his burial, were of white silk, 
beautifully worked with the needle, and 
ornamented with a rich border, studded with 
pearls. 

Considerably later — exactly when is not 
known — ecclesiastical gloves ceased to be 
invariably white, but changed their hue, like 
the other vestments, according to the cur- 
rent church seasons. Then the gloves of the 
church bcame glorious indeed in color, 
texture and design! St. Charles Borromeo 
prescribes that "they shall be woven through- 
out, and adorned with a golden circle on 
the outside." 

The most famous gloves of this type 
which have been preserved — though the 
circle is of red silk, not of gold — are those 
of William of Wykeham, Bishop of Win- 
chester, treasured to this day at Oxford. 
These gloves are at least five hundred and 
thirty years old. William of Wykeham was 
the founder of New College, Oxford, in 1379, 
and the gloves were probably worn by him 
at the opening religious ceremonial, April 14, 
1386. It is extremely likely that they were 
made especially for that great occasion. They 
are still in a wonderful state of preservation, 
and some idea of their magnificance may be 
had even from their present appearance. 
They are made of crimson purl knitted silk, 
embroidered on the back and cuffs with 
gold, now faded and tarnished. The octag- 
onal designs around the cuffs are separated 
by squares of emerald green silk; the cuffs 
are lined with crimson silk; and a double 
band of gold adorns each finger and thumb. 



22 Gloves, Past and Present 

The circles are on tlie back of the hand, and 
with their sixteen flame-pointed arms, worked 
in gold, surround the sacred monogram. 

In inventories of church furniture in the 
Middle Ages, gloves, elaborately decorated, 
frequently appear. These usually were 
encrusted with precious jewels and were 
so valuable that they were left as legacies. 
A pair of gloves was among the bequests of 
Bishop Eiculfus who died in 915 a.d. Even 
Thomas a Becket — though it is reported that 
he never bathed — was buried in immaculate 
gloves. And we have proof that old mother 
Becket had to be handled with gloves, for at 
her baptism, pictured in an ancient illumina- 
tion, the officiating bishop is represented in 
long, white chirothecae reaching clear above 
his venerable elbows. 

Gloves in the Church symbolized purity 
of heart and deed. In an olden missal, 
ascribed to the seventh century, the officiating 
bishop, just before offering mass, draws on 
his snowy linen gloves with this prayer: "O 
Creator of all creatures, grant me, un- 
worthiest of Thy servants, to put on the 
clothing of justice and joy, that I may be 
found with pure hands in Thy sight." 

The royal glove, with which the king 
received his authority from earliest times, 
was usually purple, ornamented with pearls 
and precious stones. Such "were anciently 
deemed ensigns of imperial dignity," as 
Pachymenera records. Previous to the French 
Kevolution, at the crowning of the Kings of 
France, it was customary for the archbishop 
to bless a pair of gloves and present them to 
the sovereign as an emblem of secure posses- 



The Language of Gloves 23 

sion. In tlie English coronation ceremonies 
the glove plays a double role. His Majesty 
being seated in Westminster Hall, the cham- 
pion enters, caparisoned as an ancient knight, 
and the herald-at-arms proclaims the chal- 
lenge. The champion then throws down his 
gauntlet which, after it has lain a short time, 
is taken up by the herald and returned to 
him. The herald make a proclamation of 
some length, and the gauntlet is again thrown 
down by the champion of the realm. His 
Majesty next drinks to the champion's health 
and presents him with the cup. The cham- 
pion then takes up his gauntlet and retires. 
At the installation in the Abbey, the Duke 
of Norfolk presents the king with a right- 
hand glove of elaborate and beautiful design, 
and the monar^^, putti^ig it on, receives from 
the Archbishop of Caitterbury the sceptre 
with the dove. 

That gloves were actually synonymous with 
kingly power is shown by an instance which 
occurred in the year 1294, when the Earl of 
Flanders by the delivery of a glove into the 
hands of Philip the Fair, "granted him pos- 
session of the good towne of Flanders." The 
wealth of sentiment they enshrined is further 
manifested by the act of a woman of royal 
blood. After the coronation of Louis XIIL, 
we are told, Mary de Medicis, his mother, 
"had the piety to desire the king's shirt and 
gloves, in order to preserve them carefully in 
her cabinet." 

One of the most dramatic episodes of its 
kind — when a glove under romantic cir- 
cumstances was taken as the very embodi- 
ment of royal authority — is related in some 



24 Gloves, Past and Present 

papers of D'Israeli. Young Conraddin, the 
last of the Hohenstaufer male line, having 
fallen into the hands of Mainfroy, who had 
usurped the crown in 1282, was brought up 
for execution. On the scaffold the young 
prince raised his voice in lamentation and 
declared his right to the succession. In proof 
of this he cast his glove among the assembled 
crowd, beseeching that it might be carried to 
his kinsmen who would avenge his death. It 
was taken up by a knight and brought to 
Peter, King of Aragon, who, in virtue of the 
same glove, was afterwards crowned at 
Palermo. 

The kings of France on the point of death 
religiously gave their gloves to their sons as 
a token that they were to be invested with 
the kingdom. That such should have been 
almost their last thought and act shows how 
real to them was the ^ power symbolically 
invested in the glove. 

Gloves, royalty, feudalism — these three 
are inseparable in history. The granting of 
lands hj the king was the root of the feudal 
system, in which modern society had its rise, 
and the lein of the monarch over all lands 
was the first doctrine of Divine Eight. Thus, 
the glove, by which tenure was given, became 
also the pledge of the service by virtue of 
which tenure was held; and on the hand of 
him who could both bestow the one and de- 
mand the other, it was indeed a symbol of 
supreme authority. In the attire of Eng- 
lish monarchs, gloves were especially con- 
spicuous under the Norman and the Plantag- 
enet dynasties when the feudal system was 
yet young. One would infer that as the 



The Language of Gloves 25 

emblematical embodiment of tbe new order, 
kings found them indispensable to tbeir 
dignity. 

Kings were even buried with, gloves on 
their hands, when "arrayed in ghostly state, 
they were gathered to their fathers." 
Eichard I. and John in their tombs wear 
richly jeweled gloves. It is said that 
Richard's are the identical ones by which he 
was recognized in Austria on his return from 
the Crusades. In Canterbury Cathedral the 
gloves of Edward, the Black Prince, are hung 
above his last resting place. 

The Bench inherited gloves direct from 
the Church. On the judge's hands they 
symbolized incorruptibility, uprightness. In 
England a maiden assize — that is, a county 
session in which no malefactor is put to 
death — is commemorated by a gift of white 
gloves, even to-day. White gloves here typify 
a clean record, an absence of felony in the 
judge's precinct. "They represent the zero of 
crime," says Beck, "the antithesis of the 
black cap. They afford a foretaste of the 
millennium. The occasion of their presenta- 
tion is held to reflect credit on any town or 
neighborhood, and is widely noticed in the 
newspapers." The recorder of Cambridge 
was the happy recipient of this honor, we are 
told, three times in succession. 

Pardoned outlaws, restored from a living 
death to all the pleasures of home, the 
privileges of citizenship and the protection 
of their king, were accustomed to thank their 
judges by presenting them with gifts of 
gloves. Later, however, this practice was 
abused. The offender was compelled to 



26 Gloves, Past and Present 

appear in person, and by a present of 
gloves filled witk coins to implore and obtain 
the judges' favor. Thus, by degrees, the 
glove fell away from its original significance 
and came to be synonymous virith the bribe. 

Sir Thom'as More once received in grate- 
ful appreciation of a case won for a lady, a 
pair of gloves "lined" with forty angels. As 
was the custom, this delicate acknowledg- 
ment was conveyed to him on the first dsij of 
January. "Mistress," wrote the honorable 
judge in reply, "since it were against good 
manners to refuse your New Year's gift, I 
am content to take your gloves; but as for 
the lining, I utterly refuse it." 

So, gloves, like most of the good things of 
life, were exalted and degraded by turns, and 
made to contradict themselves. Persons tak- 
ing legal oath are required to-day to do so 
bare-handed; and a Portuguese proverb 
expressive of private integrity, is, "He does 
not wear gloves." 

Keeping the hands covered in the pres- 
ence of superiors was one of the worst social 
breaches one could commit in former times. 
No doubt, the practice of presenting gloves 
to visitors by universities meant that they 
recognized their guests to be of such personal 
standing and learning as to make them 
worthy of remaining with hands clothed even 
before the highest collegiate dignitaries. In 
addition to symbolizing religious, kingly and 
judicial eminence, therefore, gloves typified 
also a university honor and were the insignia 
of the scholar. 

At the Trojan games, nearly one thousand 
years before the Christian era, the gauntlet 



The Language of Gloves 27 

was used botli as a defensive weapon and as 
a symbol of defiance. Warlike challenge by 
the glove, accordingly, had a very ancient 
origin, and in the days of knightly adventure 
may have been deliberately imitated from 
the early epics by a more consciously 
romantic race of heroes. Challenge by the 
glove frequently is described by Sir Walter 
Scott — who, by the wslj, has more to say 
about gloves than any other writer, even 
excepting Shakespeare — but nowhere more 
eloquently, perhaps, than in Ivanlioe, when 
the Jewish maiden demands a champion. 

"'I am unskilled to dispute for my relig- 
ion' (says Kebecca), ^but I can die for it, if 
it be God's will ! Let me pray for your answer 
to my demand for a champion.' 

"'Give me her glove!' said Beaumanoir. 
'This is indeed a slight and fragile gage for a 
purpose so deadly! See'st thou, Eebecca, as 
this slight glove of thine is to one of our 
heavy steel gauntlets, so is thy cause to that 
of the Temple, for it is our order which thou 
hast defied.'" 

In the life of Sir Bernard Gilpin, relative 
to customs of the Scottish-English borders 
it is recorded, that in the year 1560, the rev- 
erend gentleman observed in one of the 
churches in which he was preaching, a glove, 
hung high against the raftered roof. On 
making inquiries he learned that it was 
placed there in consequence of a "deadly 
feud" prevailing in the district, and that the 
owner had suspended it in defiance, daring 
to mortal combat anyone who took it down. 

The last instance of defiance by the glove 
occurred in 1818 in a wager of battle. The 



28 Gloves, Past and Present 

battle, however, never came off; and tlie 
instance was the occasion of the repeal of the 
law permitting the ancient trial by battle 
and ordeal which existed in England for more 
than eight centuries. 

Gifts of gloves at funerals is a relic of 
ancient times, as was also their presentation 
at marriage festivals. In Ben Jonson's play, 
The Silent Woman, we learn that a wedding 
without this token was suspiciously regarded, 
and passed for a jest. Cries one of the guests : 

"We see no ensigns of a wedding here, 
No character of a bridal! 
Where be our starves and gloves?'^ 

In Italy and Spain the glove was cherished 
with the most romantic feeling ever accorded 
it throughout all its long and impressive 
history. No king of olden days exercised 
more despotic rule over his feudal depend- 
ents than the Spanish and Italian ladies 
over their "cavaliers," to whom even to be 
allowed to touch the fair one's glove was a 
favor which sent the aspiring lover into 
ecstacies. Many a yearning Eomeo of that 
chivalric age must have exclaimed : 

"Would that I were a glove upon that hand. 
That I might touch that cheek !" 

Coquetry by the glove seems to have per- 
sisted down to a fairly recent period. The 
Spectator observes that "Ned Courtly pre- 
senting Flavia with her glove (which she had 
dropped on purpose), she received it, and 
took away his life with a courtesy." Charles 
IV. of Spain appears to have been in Ned 
Courtly's class, for His Majesty was so 



The Language of Gloves 29 

extremely susceptible, we are told, to any 
lady wlio wore white kid gloves, that the use 
of them at court was strictly prohibited. A 
charming picture is called to mind also by 
the recollection of a novel by William Black, 
in which the guileless heroine all uncon- 
sciously captivates the hero the first time he 
sets eyes on her, by the graceful, ladylike 
manner in which she draws on and fastens 
her gloves. 

But if the symbolism of gloves and their 
old, romantic usages largely have fallen 
away, leaving us an article of familiar, 
practical, everyday concern, the language of 
gloves for us is not dead. When we take 
pains to be fittingly costumed for an im- 
portant occasion, there is no detail of our 
dress which we are more anxious should be 
in perfect keeping, than our gloves. To them 
still clings a halo of sentiment, part and 
parcel of our own dignity. In view of their 
history we are justified in our feeling. 
"Gloves," says Beck, "outweigh all other 
articles of apparel which have been the out- 
ward and visible signs of hidden things." 



Chapter IV. 
HOW GLOVES CAME TO GEENOBLE 

"A French town ... in which the product of successive 
ages, not without lively touches of the present, are blended 
together harmoniously, with a beauty specific — a beauty cis- 
alpine and northern — and of which Turner has found the ideal 
in certain of his studies of the rivers of France, a perfectly 
happy conjunction of river and town being of the essence of 
its physiognomy." — Deny U Auxerrois: Walter Pater. 

IV/f ANY centuries ago, certain chieftains 
■*-^-*- of the AUobroges were inspired to 
plant their little village of Cnlaro at the 
supremely strategic point of all southern 
Gaul. They built it a trifle to the East of the 
meeting place of two rivers, the Isere and 
the torrent of the Drac; north of them 
stretched the high, unbroken wall of the 
lower Alps. And there in the sheltered valley 
they lived and were protected against incur- 
sions of other more warlike tribes — until the 
great conqueror of the world poured its 
invincible legions over the mountain bar- 
riers, and Eome seized the little AUobrogian 
defence town to be a colonial outpost of con- 
siderable military importance. On the site 
of Cularo sprang up the strongly fortified 
Gratianopolis, thus called in honor of the 
Emperor Gratian who reinforced the walls 
begun by Diocletian and Maximian. Later, 
with the decline of the Koman power and the 
development of the Frankish nation, the 
Latin name was abbreviated to Grenoble — 
by which the modern city is known to-day as 
the chef-lieu of the department of the Isere 
in France. 



How Gloves Came to Grenoble 31 

The town, from its birth to the end of the 
sixteenth century, was familiarly styled "la 
ville du j)ont/^ the city of the bridge. For 
more than a thousand years it commanded 
the only point where it was possible to cross 
the river Isere. It was also designated "the 
old Eoman route town," for it lay on the 
natural highroad which linked Italy on the 
north with the country of France, the valley 
of the Po with that of the Khone. The quaint, 
turreted bridge which spanned the river in 
mediaeval days provided passage to the Alps 
from French soil, and was the gateway to 
France for strangers approaching over the 
mountains. While its strategic position in 
time of war must be apparent, the site of the 
city was no less vital to trade and to later 
industrial development. As early as 1615 
Grenoble was known, far and wide, as "the 
city of glovers." 

The earliest records of the consuls of 
Grenoble, which have been preserved almost 
intact since 1244, tell us only of "drapers, 
tailors, apothecaries and shoeing-smiths" in 
the city; and in 1489 they mention in addi- 
tion sailors, pastry cooks, carpenters, bar- 
bers — ^but not glovers. Only the weavers, 
tanners and curriers of wool and hemp 
presage the industrial future. There seems 
to be some question of a lone glover in 1328 
who gave his services to the dauphin. But 
probably this workman made numerous 
things for his fellow-citizens, gloves included, 
and at the same time was a dealer in furs and 
perfumes. In the statutes of the glovers of 
Paris, dating from 1190, they are styled "mar- 
cJiands-fnaitres-gantiers-parfumeurs/^ master- 



32 Gloves, Past and Present 

merchants-of-gloves-and-perfumes, and are 
accorded the exclusive right to prepare and 
sell these luxuries. Furs were usually added 
to their stock in trade. But the solitary 
glove-maker of 1328 was in no sense a pioneer 
of the glove guild in Grrenoble, else had he 
apprenticed to himself other workmen, and 
the town been filled with glovers fully a 
hundred years earlier than it was. 

The latter part of the sixteenth century 
was a period of war and domestic upheaval 
for Grenoble, during which the city govern- 
ment was tossed back and forth among 
predatory barons until, in 1590, Lesdiguieres, 
"the King of the Mountains," took the town 
by seige in the name of Henry IV. Under 
Lesdiguieres' remarkably public-spirited gov- 
ernorship, peace returned, commerce was 
resumed, and natural resources, scarcely 
recognized before, were drawn upon for 
the development of new crafts, whose prod- 
ucts, now for the first time, were to be 
exported to all parts of France and even 
into other countries. Among these new 
crafts glove-making instantly sprang into 
prominence. 

For the raw materials were everywhere 
at hand. On the slopes of the mountains, 
enclosing like the tiers of a vast amphitheatre 
the city seemingly chosen by Nature to 
become the mis-en-scene of the glove drama, 
millions of wild goats fed. Already the 
tanners and tawers had tested the admirable 
quality of their skins, and those of the 
females in particular were found to be of 
the fine, soft variety, peculiarly free from 
flaws, so admirably adapted to the making 



How Gloves Came to Grenoble 33 

of gloves. For the process of tawing tlie , 
skins, moreover, tlie waters of the Isere, 
because of their singular purity, were incom- 
parable. And in the city itself — its popula- 
tion now greatly increased by prosperity and 
peace — lived scores of skilled artisans and 
their sons, well fitted for the careful cutting 
and shaping of gloves; while the women, 
equipped with three-cornered needles, quickly 
became adepts in sewing gloves by hand. 

Other occupations, which now received 
special impetus in mediaeval Grenoble, were 
the weaving of hemp textiles — ^for hemp was 
the most prolific crop of the alluvial river 
valleys — paper-making, and the manufacture 
of playing-cards ; about 1630, the fruit of the 
vineyards on the mountain slopes, was turned 
into wine for exportation, and beautiful pot- 
tery and tiles were made of the rich clsij de- 
posits of the Drac. But of all these crafts, 
the one taking first rank from the ver}^ start, 
and the one which quickly identified itself with 
the town, was gloves. In the municipal acts, 
glovers often appear after 1606. In 1619 
Claude Honore, a master glover, was elected 
consul. And in 1664 a certain skilled work- 
man, Jean Charpel, an artist in his line, pro- 
claims himself glover to the king. 

"One sees the glovers," observes a noted 
traveller of those times, "filling all the streets 
after 1610, and especially the rues Saint- 
Laurent, Perriere, Tres-Cloitre, and the 
suburb, together with the curriers, tanners 
and tawers, and the combers of hemp." 

Although most historians date the close 
of the Middle Ages and the beginnings of 
modern Europe from the era of the Prot- 



34 Gloves, Past and Present 

estant Eeformation, spanning tlie period from 
1517 to about 1560, Grenoble remained for a 
hundred years longer a mediaeval city in 
every sense of the word. France continued 
a Catholic country, and Grenoble, sequestered 
in a southern province, scarcely felt the 
disquieting breath of the great religious 
revolution which was sweeping mid-Europe. 
Its ideas and its civilization changed little, 
even while fresh consciousness of its natural 
powers and material resources was im- 
pregnanting the city with new industries. 
The spirit of craftsmanship — that joyous 
love of perfection, not only in the fine but 
also in the useful arts, which characterized 
the Eenaissance — was still the ruling temper 
of its citizens; and the guild of glovers, the 
most numerous and influential of all the 
artisans, particularly personified this civic 
character. If we would gain some notion of 
the part glove-making actually played in the 
lives of these people, and the status of the 
glove-craft as it first appeared in mediaeval 
Europe, we have only to journey in imagina- 
tion to Grenoble in the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, on the occasion of the great 
annual festival of the glovers. 

It is a clear, tranquil morning in the latter 
part of July, 1650, and the sun, scarcely an 
hour's march above the mountains, is flooding 
with almost tropic brilliancy the matchless 
paradise of the Dauphine. In its confluence 
of rivers and fair valleys, the ancient capital 
city, Grenoble, shines in the midst of the 
green plain of Gresivaudan. Impossible to 
describe the ever-changing charm of the 
horizons! — as, from the city itself, the eye 



How Gloves Came to Grenoble 35 

sweeps eastward, northward, westward, over 
range upon range of snow-crowned moun- 
tains, under a sky so pure, so glowing, tliat 
distant peaks apparently loom near, and the 
cool breath of Alpine heights gently smites 
the cheek. 

Eastward, the prongs, the pinnacles, the 
clear-cut outlines of a sierra; it is the chain 
of Belledonne. From the devastation of its 
summits and terraced slopes, one divines 
beneath its summer cloak of verdure con- 
cealing only its lower descent, the adamantine 
rock moulded for all time by the glaciers of 
the ice age. It is indeed the advance guard 
of those massive crystal formations, the 
veritable backbone of the Alps, which pene- 
trate into France from Mont Blanc. On a 
morning like this, the Swiss peak itself can 
be seen, cleaving the far-away heavens which 
overhang Savoy. 

In the west the spectacle changes. Beyond 
the vast plain of the Drac appears a long, 
white cliff, little carved out — a rigid line of 
limestone falling sheer to the valley where 
lies Grenoble. This is the compact mass of 
Vercors, almost impassable. Yet, suddenly, 
the cliff makes way; the vale of Furon leaps 
through the chasm in the mountain wall. An 
ancient road, winding ribbonwise to west- 
ward, puts into communication the valley 
of the Isere with the wooded brows, the vast 
grassy hollows, of the Vercors countryside. 

Northward, the limestone reappears in the 
Chartreuse. But these mountains, unlike 
Vercors, are twisted and broken, resembling 
a haK demolished castle with great apertures 
and rents in its once impregnable sides. 



36 Gloves, Past and Present 

Their countless little vales and fertile levels 
glow with stream-fed pasturage and with 
billowy forests. And everywhere, among the 
foothills of the encircling ranges, roam herds 
of goats and cattle, without suspicion of the 
fate which awaits them with the coming of 
the great Fair of the autumn at Grenoble. 

On this July morning the old town gleams 
like a strange jewel, set in the spacious, lush 
meadow lands, stretching league on league, 
to the mountains. Vast gardens of hemp 
wave to its very walls. Vineyards veil the 
nearer hills, and the mulberry dots the 
plains of the southeast. The Isere, restless, 
ever seeking new outlet, interlaces with a 
network of sparkling tributaries the great 
expanse of Gresivaudan. All the richness of 
the region, all the amazing variety and 
beauty with which nature has surrounded 
this ancient city, seems concentrated, in the 
early hush and radiance, in an act of worship. 

Now the sun has penetrated the shadows 
below the city walls, and is stealing through 
the sinuous, crowded streets, peculiar to 
towns which long have been cramped within 
the precincts of strong fortifications. The 
tiled eaves lean so close one upon another, as 
in some places actually to shut out the sky. 
If we might fly up like a bird and look down 
over the Grenoble of 1650, we would be gaz- 
ing upon a confusion of multi-colored roofs, 
set at every conceivable angle of picturesque- 
ness, and upon a bewildering congregation of 
chimneys and chimney-pots. Also, we would 
note that the town lay on both banks of the 
Isere, connected by a tower bridge, and pro- 



How Gloves Came to Grenoble 37 

tected on the nortli by the fortress of the 
Bastille. 

Down in the roughly paved rue Saint- 
Laurent the clatter of sabots on the stones 
announces that the townspeople are astir. 
Shutters are thrown open. Bursts of song 
herald the holiday. Crowds of goats, driven 
through the streets, are being milked at the 
house doors. Then, from the Cathedral of 
Notre Dame — ^whose foundations, it is said, 
were laid by Charlemagne — the bells pro- 
claim with sweet solemnity the call to early 
mass. Out of the houses pour the people in 
gaily embroidered holiday dress, group join- 
ing group with merry exchange of saluta- 
tions, until, trooping through the narrow 
streets, the colorful procession appears like a 
wandering rainbow threading the grey mazes 
of the old town. 

House after house they pass and shop after 
shop, each bearing above the portal a shield 
emblazened with the selfsame coat-of-arms — 
the heraldic device of the guild of the glovers. 
Their occupants, gayest of the gay, fast swell 
the throng, with masters and their families 
and apprentices — the young boys in the 
retinues stealing shy a^lances at the pretty 
daughters of their masters, the maidens 
covertly returning their admirers' bash- 
ful looks. 

And now the multitude melts into the 
tender gloom of the ancient cathedral; their 
voices are hushed in the sweet fluting of the 
choir. Above the heads of the kneeling 
populace glows the shrine of Saint Anne, 
lit with innumerable candles and smothered 
in exotic, summer flowers. For this is the 



38 Gloves, Past and Present 

annual fete-dayjof the motlier of tlie Virgin, 
the patron saint of les gantiers. revered by 
all good glovers throughout France. At 
Grenoble, however, the feast is observed 
with greater magnificence than anywhere 
else, for the glovers constitute by far the 
most numerous body, and the most pros- 
perous, of its citizens, and theirs is the crown- 
ing festivity of the whole year. 

According to monkish legend, the good 
Saint Anne made a livelihood while on earth 
by knitting gloves. "The knitting saint," in 
homely terms of affection the people liked 
to call her. They were wont to regard her 
as one like themselves — only holier far, for 
the great honor God saw fit to confer upon 
her — fulfilling her simple task from day to 
day, the needles always busy in her fingers. 
Their love for her was so strong, indeed, and 
so enduring, that early in the nineteenth 
centurj^ the glovers ordered a statue of 
their saint set up in a public square of 
Grenoble, where it may be seen to-day. It 
represents the mother of Mary, knitting, 
with a half -finished glove in her hand and a 
basket of gloves at her feet. 

Mass celebrated, the long summer day is 
given over to street festivities, to feasting, 
dancing and pageantry. The doors of the 
glovers' guild-hall, converted into a flower- 
adorned banqueting room, stand wide open. 
The glovers' shops and houses overflow with 
hospitality. As at a great fair, popular 
arts and pastimes occupy the squares and 
spaces before the public buildings; several 
such distractions begin at once and continue 
simultaneously. Mountebanks and musi- 



How Gloves Came to Grenoble 39 

cians, folk dances, Columbines and Pierrots, 
flower-girls, venders of bon-bons and petits 
joujoux of every description, all commingle 
in a laughing, jabbering, singing, whirl- 
ing, shimmering, merry-making throng. A 
wheeled street-stage, drawn by donkej^s, with 
bells jingling about their necks and on their 
trappings, makes the rounds of the to\NTi. 
Wherever it stops, the gay curtains of the 
miniature theatre are parted to disclose the 
play-actors who give a mediaeval burlesque 
of Don Juan, amid the noisy applause and 
high-pitched laughter of the onlookers. 

But the great feature of the daj^ is the 
pageant of the glovers, in which each master, 
with his apprentices and family, has his 
special part. This takes the form of a pro- 
cession of carnival vans, or floats, drawn by 
gorgeously caparisoned horses, and followed 
by crowds of young apprentices and work- 
men and workmaidens on foot, who enact in 
pantomime the various processes of glove- 
making as it was practiced in mediaeval days. 
Beautiful kids and chamois from the moun- 
tains, wreathed with blossoms as though for 
sacrifice, are led by troops of peasant garcons 
in blue smocks. The cutters advance, rhyth- 
mically jingling their shears ; and the needle- 
women move by more slowly, drawing their 
shining implements in perfect unison through 
the unfinished gloves they carry in their 
hands. A spice of rivalry enlivens the exhibi- 
tion, for every master-glover has taken pains 
that his own personal retinue shall be as 
large and as brilliant as possible. Every 
apprentice is fired with the desire to so com- 
port himself as to be an honor to his master 



40 . Gloves, Past and Present 

— and, incidentally, to attract tlie admira- 
tion of the maiden of the house he hopes 
to win. 

Angelus finds the merry-makers still 
romping, singing, dancing; a little wearily 
the couples break apart, and the townsfolk 
once more flock through the streets, trans- 
formed in the afterglow to running rivers 
of gold, and are lost in the stilly dusk of the 
cathedral. And now the tapers gleam like 
stars upon the altar of Saint Anne, and the 
fading flowers send forth a sweet, benumbing 
perfume, as heads are bowed to receive the 
evening benediction. On the rough, uneven 
stones of the floor they kneel, imploring in 
their hearts the good saint who protects and 
prospers all devout glovers, that the craft 
may w^ax stronger with every year in the 
city of Grenoble. 

So we see an entire community uniting in 
a great religious, civic, industrial and social 
festival to celebrate and re-consecrate the 
craft of glove-making. The place of honor 
this calling held in former times is unique and 
striking. In the chapters which follow we 
shall observe how gloves — and especially the 
gloves of Grenoble— have sustained their early 
tradition through three hundred years of 
political vicissitude and commercial struggle. 



Chapter V. 

THE GLOVERS IN THE EIGHTEENTH 
CENTURY 

"Lo, the old order changeth!" 

TJTOW the glove craft of Grenoble spon- 
-■- -^ taneously sprang up, took firm root and 
grew until it controlled, to a great degree, 
the fortunes of that city, has been shown in 
the foregoing brief summary of events. The 
many phases of life with which glove-making 
was bound up in mediaeval, days, its social 
and economic importance to the community 
and its pre-eminence among the early indus- 
tries, cannot have failed to be apparent. 
From about 1600 the chief *city of the 
Dauphine underwent an astonishingly rapid 
development. 

But, if the seventeenth century was little 
short of phenomenal in glove history, glove- 
making in Grenoble was not fated to become 
one of the leading enterprises of the world 
without a struggle. The hundred years that 
followed were at once the most sterile and 
the most fecund in the annals of the trade — 
and, for that matter, the same is equally 
true of the eighteenth century as regards its 
bearing upon the destinies of Europe. 
Destructive of immediate results and of con- 
temporary prosperity, this era which endured 
the birth throes of modern states and the 
upheavals of the Revolution, was, neverthe- 
less, big with prophetic good. And it is to 
the everlasting honor of the glovers of 
Grenoble that they bore their part in this 



42 Gloves, Past and Present 

vast social and political movement, wMch 
temporarily threatened death to their per- 
sonal interests, with their eyes fixed, not 
upon gain, but upon those high ideals and 
principles to which their faith clung, even in 
the midst of business paralysis and social 
chaos. 

While the flame of the Eevolution did not 
break forth until nearly the close of the 
century, the spirit of modernity and unrest 
attacked the French people fully a hundred 
years before the fall of the Bastille. In 
Grenoble the transition from the old order 
to the new was anticipated as early as 1691, 
in response to a proclamation of the king 
that the business of the country be taxed to 
refill the royal treasury. 

After the brilliant victories of his early 
reign, Louis XIV. had suffered severe re- 
verses. He was gravely in need of money to 
repair the military organization. New 
resources must somehow be found, and that 
immediately. The only adequate answer 
which presented itself took the form of taxa- 
tion imposed upon the business interests of 
the realm. The glovers of Grenoble, accord- 
ingly, in 1691, organized themselves into the 
Corporation des Gantiers, or Corporation 
of Glovers, to determine how heavily their 
industry should be taxed in support of the 
regime. While they felt loyally obliged to 
contribute all they were able to the king's 
cause, hj the very act of their organizing and 
by virtue of the funds they furnished, they 
became masters at home, respected by the 
monarch, independent and self-governing. 
Their sacrifice of money to the government 



The Glovers in The Eighteenth Century 43 

had, in the same hour, bought them their 
freedom in all that pertained to their local 
affairs. 

The importance of this initial association 
for an economic purpose scarcely can be 
overestimated. The Corporation later proved 
the unit of strength which was to render the 
glovers, as a body, invincible through the 
endless chain of vicissitudes, political, moral 
and industrial, which all but swept away, 
in the next hundred years, the totality of 
progress gained in the seventeenth century. 
In 1590 Grenoble had not 10,000 inhabitants. 
In 1692 Vauban values the population at 
33,000. During the seventeenth century, then, 
its numbers had more than tripled, and this 
must needs strike one as the more remark- 
able inasmuch as city life in that epoch was 
little developed. Such growth, as we have 
seen, went hand in hand with the evolution 
of its industries. In 1692, Vauban wrote: 

"The city contains a very numerous bour- 
geoisie, and is filled with a high quality of 
of artisans which furnish a great variety of 
products to the largest part of the province. 
Its increase has been such that it actually is 
bursting out of its new ramparts. The city 
has dire need of expansion; all ranks of peo- 
ple demand it irresistibly." 

In 1700 Vauban submitted a plan for 
enlarging extensively the city proper. This 
was not to be realized, however, until one 
hundred and forty years later. Already the 
tide had turned. The people were passing 
out through the gates of Grenoble, never to 
return. The eighteenth century was destined 
to be such a period of sacrifice and retarda- 



44 Gloves, Past and Present 

tion, in a material sense, as the town liad 
never known, even in the pestilence-ridden, 
war-mad days which preceded the advent of 
Lesdiguieres. 

The explanation of the exodus which 
ushered in the new century leads us back, 
for a moment, to certain events which, until 
now, we have not had occasion to mention. 
A great blessing to Grenoble in the past had 
been the Edict of Nantes, by which Henry lY., 
in 1598, had put an end to the religious wars. 
It had paved the way for the uninterrupted 
peace of the seventeenth century, and thus 
for the efflorescence of Grenoble's crafts and 
industries. The Eevocation of the Edict of 
Nantes by Louis XIV., in 1685, really marks 
the turning point in that city's prosperity. 
The testimony of contemporaries confirms 
this opinion, and the verdict of those living 
twenty years later in the famous glove town, 
assigns to the same cause the steady shrink- 
ing of the population during the second 
decade after the Eevocation. 

The sudden withdrawal of religious liberty 
cost France three hundred thousand of her 
people who emigrated to Germany, Holland, 
and other Protestant countries. A large 
element in these emigrations were the skilled 
artisans. Grenoble alone was deprived of 
nearly three thousand persons, among them 
the family of the Lesdiguieres, many others 
of the nobility and the gentlefolk, and a large 
body of masters and apprentices. 

In 1705 the city lost five hundred indi- 
viduals of the religious profession and 
seventy-three families of "gentilhommes," 
whose disappearance was no triflmg matter, 



The Glovers in The Eighteenth Century 45 

as these personages liad been liberal patrons 
of the glovers, and it was their wealth which, 
in great part, had made business move. 
Industry in Grenoble, on every hand, was in 
a grievous state — but especially glove-mak- 
ing, the home demand being suddenly 
removed, and foreign trade little developed 
at that period. 

Such was the deplorable effect of the 
Kevocation. The glovers, however, proved 
themselves possessed of almost unbelievable 
powers of recuperation. In 1729 we find the 
sale of Grenoble gloves spreading rapidly in 
Germany, Switzerland, Savoy and Piedmont. 
Foreign trade steadily increased, despite 
the fact that the population of Grenoble 
remained, virtually, at a standstill. But 
trade abroad brought also foreign competi- 
tion. While the Kevocation had actually 
served Grenoble, indirectly, by causing the 
ruin of her rivals in France — Blois; and 
Vendome, which could not support the drain 
of their emigrations; and especially Grasse, 
which was seriously crippled by loss of its 
master glovers and the departure of most of 
its families of wealth — these selfsame emigra- 
tions doubtless stimulated the manufacture 
of gloves outside France. Many of those 
who had served their apprenticeship in 
Grenoble, and master glovers holding the 
secrets of her arts, probably became rivals, in 
other lands, of the city they once had called 
their o^ti. 

All this complicated subject of commer- 
cial relations, the advantages and disad- 
vantages of foreign trade, and the history 
of the glove market, will be treated separately 



46 Gloves, Past and Present 

and in detail in the chapter which follows. 
For the present, let us keep to onr main issue 
— the vicissitudes in general of gloves and 
glove-makers in the leading glove city of the 
world during the stormy j^ears of the 
eighteenth century. 

From 1737 to 1746 we learn that the life 
of the Grenoble glovers — on the surface, at 
least — was comparatively monotonous. The 
manufacture made some progress, but the 
possibilities of expansion were not such as 
to stimulate very keenly those at the head of 
things. The masters and the workers lived 
without disagreement, apparently; the time- 
honored rules of the craft continued to be 
observed on both sides. In the Corporation 
a public magistrate managed the affairs of 
the association; the glovers themselves, it 
would seem, being too indifferent to take an 
active part. Prosperity appears to have 
been just about commensurate with the needs 
of the Corporation. 

And yet, beneath this evident torpor, a 
vast inquietude was moving, like an earth- 
quake under the sea. A fermentation of 
social discontent — bred by the philosophy of 
the times, by the glaring disparity between 
the ruling class and the working people, the 
latters' distrust of the morals and the 
assumed authority of the former, by the 
teachings of freemasonry and the trades 
unions — was slowly gathering momentum. 
In working centres — conspicuously in Gre- 
noble and throughout the Dauphine — ^the 
wealthy people were constantly framing re- 
monstrances, begging the Royal Council to 
curb the mutterings of the proletariat. 



The Glovers in The Eighteenth Century 47 

Tlie outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 
1756, increased the industrial depression by 
cutting off a part of the foreign demand, par- 
ticularly for gloves, and by calling away 
from France many men for the army. In 
1759 a heavy tax was imposed by the crown 
upon skins. This proved the last straw. It 
meant that skins for tawing were hardly to 
be had, and thus the glovers were without 
materials for their manufacture. Their irri- 
tation was acute, and the parliament of 
Grenoble was obliged to carry before the 
king the united protestations of the Corpora- 
tion des Gantiers. 

This defence in behalf of the Grenoble 
glovers was at once an act of justice and an 
achievement of admirable foresight. The 
parliament did more than merely present 
the honest grievances of the industry. With a 
commendable vigor and pride it laid before 
the king a constructive measure which was 
to become the occasion in France of an 
economic revolution in the skin and glove 
trades. This was the beginning of the break- 
ing down of custom duties on gloves between 
provinces. After a few years the internal 
taxes on this product were entirely abolished. 
Thus vanished all unfair competition at 
home, and neighboring glove cities ceased 
to come under the title of "the foreigner." 
At the same time, the selling of skins from 
province to province became free and general. 
Great fairs were held by the skin merchants, 
the tawers and tanners, for the benefit of all 
the surrounding region. Exportation of skins 
decreased, while home manufacturers rejoiced 
in the abundance of excellent materials. 



48 Gloves, Past and Present 

The Corporation of Glovers, however, suf- 
fered meanwliile from the growing restlessness 
and vague ambitions of its workers. The old 
regulations were gradually and inevitably 
giving way before the awakening conscious- 
ness of a new race of wage-earners, grown 
almost morbidly distrustful of vested au- 
thority. The Dauphine was afflicted with the 
bad example of many of its aristocrats. The 
nobility was indeed unworthy of its rank. 
The pervading restiveness and insubordina- 
tion of the working class sprang out of a 
deep, instinctive resentment against the pre- 
vailing order. Of course, the first point of 
friction lay between the apprentices and the 
masters. 

Though the severities of apprenticeship 
were modified, the former good faith between 
these two was irretrievably lost. Fear of 
foreign competition faded into insignificance 
before this intimate situation — the suspicious 
attitude toward one another of masters and 
workmen. Such was bound to be the price of 
a last, furious assault upon the mouldering 
ramparts of long-decayed feudalism. 

The master glovers, on their side, shared 
in the social discontent, and participated in 
the long drawn-out struggle between the 
aristocracy and the bourgeoisie to determine 
which of these should predominate in the 
local tribunals. The glovers of Grenoble con- 
tended that they, as an organized body of 
people, no longer merely having a trade, but 
enjoying also a social position encroaching 
on the importance of the man of the robe, the 
magistrate and the attorney, should have the 
largest voice in the making of the laws. Their 



The Glovers in The Eighteenth Century 49 

product, they argued, was bringing money 
into France from England, Germany, Switzer- 
land, and otlier northern countries, where 
more than one-half of their gloves were 
sold. In 1775, it is stated, out of 100,000 
dozen pairs of gloves made in Grenoble, 
60,000 were on commission for the foreigner. 
Naturally enough these manufacturers and 
merchants felt that over an idle, and even 
vicious, aristocracy, their opinions and 
practical needs should lead in shaping public 
legislation. 

Further, bitter contention involved the 
business men of Grenoble with the lawyers 
of that city, for the latter persisted in look- 
ing down upon plain citizens not bred in their 
profession, and in excluding them from pub- 
lic affairs. In 1789 all glovers were shut out 
of the city council. In view of the fact that 
they "gave work daily to more than eight 
thousand persons, and thus enabled to live 
one-third of the population of Grenoble," the 
glovers resented bitterly this deliberate in- 
dignity from "les hommes du robe." It onl}^ 
fired them the more to throw themselves into 
the great conflict ahead; to j)rove that, even 
if they could not discourse so eloquently upon 
public matters as those who had insulted 
them, "at least they knew how to talk less, 
act more, and give all they possessed" to the 
cause of justice. 

Thus, with the greatest crisis, perhaps, of 
modern times approaching, the glovers found 
themselves, workmen and masters alike, 
drawn almost before they knew it, into the 
very heart of the maelstrom. Industry itself 
was at a standstill. Nay, it was slipping 



50 Gloves, Past and Present 

backward; for in the midst of such internal 
suppression of terrible passions, such scorch- 
ing hatreds, and ideals to set the world on 
fire, what footing could there be for the arts 
of peace? 

And then the black cloud burst. Grenoble 
was drained of men whom the actual erup- 
tion of the Eevolution forced to flee its walls. 
It was emptied of soldiers departing for the 
centre of action. The Eevolution put out of 
business many of those following religious 
vocations, whose offices now were enlisted in 
grimmer callings; it wiped out of existence 
the gentlemen of leisure. There had been 
many of these latter in the beautiful, old city 
of the Dauphine. 

And who was there left to wear gloves, in 
all the length and breadth of France? What 
was to become, in such an hour, of an industry 
which addressed itself to the pleasure-loving 
rich, and to the privileged classes? The rich? 
There were no more rich. Privilege — the 
title, the robe, the gown? Lost off in the 
wild scurry of fugitives! In the appalling 
reaction, such a harmless mark of elegance 
as the glove, became, so to speak, branded 
with horror. To be seen in gloves in those 
days was to be marked for a criminal against 
mankind ; to be suspected of being a Eoyalist, 
a lover of the king, a Judas to the People. 

So we have the spectacle of the glovers, 
"plain men of business," throwing over every 
material advantage, to hurl themselves and 
all they possessed into the French Eevolu- 
tion. "The Eevolution!" cries M. Xavier 
Eoux in his invaluable book, The Glovers of 
Qrenohle, published for private circulation 



The Glovers in The Eighteenth Century 51 

in tliat city in 1887, "they themselves desired 
it. They sacrificed to it their money and their 
effort." Again he says : 

"It would seem as though, in their eyes, 
there were no longer practical 'interests'; 
there were only ideas. Never, perhaps, as 
then, has a whole people forgotten its indus- 
try, it business relations, and suffered itself 
to be moved by principle alone." 

And yet one spectacle more remains — the 
silent factories on the Isere. For the first 
time since the founding of its main industry 
and source of prosperity in the past, we 
behold the paradox of a gloveless Grenoble! 



Chapter VI. 
GLOVES IN MANY MAETS 

"She of the open soul and open door, 
With room about her hearth for all mankind." 
— Trade: James Russell Lowell. 

THE first glove-makers in Europe, we may 
suppose — certainly tlie first, skilled in 
that art, to work together in brotherhoods — 
were the monks of the early Middle Ages. In 
common with many other old-established 
handicrafts, the glove trade is deeply in- 
debted to the Church. On this point, William 
S. Beck, the leading English authority on 
glove lore of thirty-five years ago, has 
summed up the conditions most interestingly 
and clearly. He says : 

"Muscular Christianity is no new doctrine. 
Faith and works were once literally united 
in a secular sense. Before corruptions crept 
in, and while monastic establishments main- 
tained the simple lines on which they had 
been founded, their inmates were the most 
skillful and industrious of artisans. Weav- 
ing, illuminating, gardening, embroidery, 
woodwork — these and many other occupa- 
tions were practiced sedulously by the holy 
friars. The original idea of the founders of 
these institutions was to bring together a 
company of Christians who were workers. 
Benedict enjoins his followers to fight 
valiantly against idleness, the canker of truth. 

" ^Therefore,' he prescribes, 'the brethren 
must be occupied in the labor of the hands, 
and again at certain times in divine study.' 



Gloves in Many Marts 53 

"The brethren not only practiced," says 
Beck, "but taught. The monastery became 
as much the centre of industry as of intel- 
lect ; and religion was made an active worker 
with commerce in furthering national inter- 
ests. The efforts of the brethren often 
resulted in raising local manufactures to 
great excellence, so that they obtained more 
than local celebrity. To the monks of Bath, 
for instance, is attributed much of the fame 
which the stout, woolen cloths of the west 
of England yet enjoy; and under their active 
auspices, we are told, the manufacture was 
introduced, established and brought to per- 
fection. In their commercial curriculum 
glove-making was certainly included, as well 
as the dressing of leather." 

As early as 790, as has been mentioned in 
a preceding chapter, Charlemagne granted to 
the abbots and monks of Sithin in ancient 
France unlimited right of hunting the deer 
for skins of which to make gloves, girdles 
and covers for books. These gloves, made in 
the monasteries, assuredly were worn, not 
only by the higher orders of the clergy, but 
by the king and his nobles. They may have 
been a direct means of revenue among the 
monks; in any case, they were a favor 
exchanged for the patronage and support of 
the feudal lords in maintaining monastic 
property. 

Needless to say, gloves were one of the 
luxuries of early trade and barter, and it 
was a late period before they became, to any 
extent, an article of common exchange. As 
gifts to kings and personages of high rank, 
they were borne from country to country, and 



54 Gloves, Past and Present 

thus, to a limited degree, were put into circu- 
lation. The Earl of Oxford, on one occasion, 
curried favor with Queen Elizabeth by pre- 
senting Her Majesty with beautiful, per- 
fumed gloves which he, personally, had 
brought to her from Italy. The Queen, we 
are told, was so vain of this particular pair 
of gloves that she had her portrait painted 
in them. Little by little, as the privilege of 
wearing gloves spread from sovereign to sub- 
ject, their trade was popularized, and the 
glove market, in the modern sense, grew up 
in response to the increasing demand. 

In France, glove-making as an industry, 
independent of the monasteries, was certainly 
well established in the twelfth century. In 
1190 we find the Grlovers of Paris organized 
under a settled code of statutes received 
from the king. Across the channel, gloves 
are first mentioned, as an incorporated trade, 
in Scotland, where the glovers formed a com- 
pany called "The Glovers of Perth" during 
the reign of Robert III., who figures in 
Scott's Fair Maid of Perth, and ruled between 
1390 and 1406. This company was principally 
employed in making buck and doe-skin gloves. 
Thence the trade spread over Scotland, but 
it did not long hold its importance. "Dundee" 
gloves enjoyed a picturesque fame; but Hull 
remarks, in 1834, that "they had little more 
than the term to recommend them." Indeed, 
the greater part of them were made in Wor- 
cester, England, and were sewn cheaply, 
with cotton, instead of silk. A few gloves 
were also turned out in Montrose, Scotland; 
the leather for these, however, was sent from 
London. 



Gloves in Many Marts 55 

In London, the glove trade had existed for 
many centuries, and originally was carried 
on in connection witli the making of leather 
doublets and breeches. Deer and sheep skins 
were used chiefly; but after the introduction 
of kid gloves into England from France, the 
former country began to make kid gloves 
also, under the name of "London town-made 
gloves," and thus to follow the more fas- 
tidious fashions of the French. The glovers 
of London were incorporated in the four- 
teenth year of the reign of Charles I., who, 
on the sixth of September, 1638, granted 
them a charter, in which they were styled: 
"The Masters, Wardens and Fellowship of 
the Worshipful Company of Glovers of the 
City of London." As early as 1464, however, 
they had received their coat-of-arms. Even 
so, the Paris glovers must be acceded ijrioritj^ 
in importance, as their statutes date from 
1190. Moreover, it has justly been said that 
gloves "came over with the Conqueror," and 
were really introduced into England from 
France. Previous to 1066, the glove produced 
hj the Saxons was a rude and shapeless thing, 
while the Normans brought with them the 
clever prototype on which the future glove of 
England was destined to be modelled. 

Very early in their history the English 
began to experience commercial rivalrj'^ with 
the French, and one of the first products to 
be strongly affected, to England's detriment, 
was gloves. As far back as the reign of 
Edward IV., in 1462, we find the English 
glove trade protected by prohibitory^ laws. 
These laws, in later years, must have become 
obsolete, as they do not appear ever to have 



56 GrLOVES, Past and Present 

been repealed, and foreign gloves were 
imported into the country soon after tlie 
Reformation. In 1564, however, England 
forbade any gloves from abroad to enter her 
ports. Nothing was said about the raw 
materials being brought from other lands; 
but France saw fit to curtail the shipment of 
kid skins outside her boundaries, and thus 
the English were thrown entirely upon their 
own resources. French kid gloves — whose 
quality, after all, it has been impossible to 
equal in other countries — continued to be 
smuggled into the British realm to a greater 
extent, we may believe, than the authorities 
then realized. The titled people, accustomed 
to having the best of everything, infinitely 
preferred the French luxury to the home- 
made article ; and so, it was secretly procured. 
But, generally speaking, after 1564, the Eng- 
lish manufactured their own gloves from 
native skins, and the trade increased and 
became prosperous. 

On the occasion of the granting of the 
charter in 1638, certain abuses had crept into 
the industry, and it was to obviate these con- 
ditions that the document was demanded anH 
granted by the king. It reads : 

"Whereas, by an humble petition presented 
unto us by our loveing subjects, living in and 
about our Cities of London and Westminster, 
using the arte, trade or mistery of Glovers, 

"We have been informed that their 
families are about four hundred in num- 
ber, and upon them depending about three 
thousand of our subjects, who are much 
decayed and impoverished by reason of the 
great confluence of persons of the same arte. 



Gloves in Many Marts 57 

trade or mistery into our said Cities of 
London and Westminster, from all parts of 
our kingdome and dominion of Wales, tliat, 
for the most parte, have scarcely served any 
time thereunto, vi^orking of gloves in cham- 
bers and corners, and taking apprentices 
under them, many in number, as well women 
as men, that become burdensome to the 
parishes wherein they inhabit, and are a 
disordered multitude, living without proper 
government, and making naughtie and de- 
ceitful gloves: And that our subjects afore- 
said, that lawfully and honestly use the 
said arte, trade or mistery, are, by these 
means, not only prejudiced at home, but the 
reputation the English had in foreign parts, 
where they were a great commoditie and 
held in goode esteeme, is much impaired. And 
also, that by the engrossing of leather into 
a few men's hands, our said subjects are 
forced to buye bad leather at excessive rates, 
to their further impoverishment . . . ." etc. 
. . . etc. 

In view of such abuses as these, the 
London Company was given very exclusive 
powers, one of which was "to search for and 
destroy bad or defective skins, leather or 
gloves." 

The name of the first Master of the 
Glovers' Company has come down to us in 
certain parish registers of the seventeenth 
century, in which he is mentioned as "William 
Smart, of the parish of St. Giles, Cripple- 
gate, Glover^ In his parish the trade seems 
to have been especially flourishing. 

Perhaps the London industry labored 
under greater difficulties, on the whole, than 



58 Gloves, Past and Present 

glove-making elsewhere. It liad constantly 
to contend against tlie secret importation of 
French gloves into the capital city, and also 
to maintain its superiority over the imita- 
tions of the country manufacturers; for, in 
England, as in France, competition between 
the various glove centres was intense. Many 
London manufacturers, because they could 
not make their ventures pay, actually became 
importers and dealers in French gloves — 
either underhandedly, or openly, as the laws 
of the land would permit. Invariably they 
found this greatly to their advantage, since 
the price of French gloves was low, and the 
manner in which the duty could be evaded, at 
that date, ridiculously simple. 

Despite the feelings and the best efforts 
of those Englishmen who sought to foster 
and strengthen the home glove trade, the 
prohibitory laws remained always more or 
less lax — chiefly because the aristocracy and 
gentry preferred the French glove, and, for 
the most part, were not interested in the 
welfare of English glovers and artisans — 
until, in 1825, the ban on imported gloves 
was officially removed. The effect upon 
France was electrical. The British ports 
were flung open to her at a time when 
Grenoble, Paris and her other glove cities 
were swinging back on the crest of the new 
wave of industrial prosperity and progress 
which had received its momentum in the 
days of the Empire — a period which wit- 
nessed the revival of much of the former 
elegance of France, so lately eclipsed by the 
Revolution. In 1832, the legal importation 
of French gloves into England was 1,516,663 



Gloves in Many Marts 59 

pairs. As many more, in that same jesiY, we 
may believe, were also smuggled into tlie 
country by the old methods. To France — and 
particularly to Grenoble — the English change 
of policy was one of the greatest boons which 
could have befallen a commercially ambitious 
people. 

To English glovers, on the contrary, the 
results were anything but fortunate. A brief 
survey of the vicissitudes of the English 
glove towns may serve to show how dearly 
the glove industry was forced to pay for the 
new national system of Free Trade. 

In Worcester, close rival of London, the 
glove craft is known to have existed since 
1571, and in 1661 the Glovers' Company of 
that city was incorporated. Here an elabo- 
rate manufacture w^as carried on, including 
"Venetian" gloves, made in imitation of those 
originally imported from Venice. As long as 
French gloves were not freely admitted, the 
beaver gloves of Worcester also enjoyed great 
prosperity ; but with the re-importation of the 
former, beaver gloves went out of fashion, 
and the Worcester makers turned their atten- 
tion to alum leather gloves which were pro- 
duced in large quantities until 1825. 

The complete removal of the prohibitory 
regulations, however, was fatal to this last- 
named article, which could not hope to com- 
pete with the far finer product from abroad. 
From that date, the English manufacture 
rapidly decayed, despite every effort of the 
masters and the work people to readjust their 
difficulties. How hard Worcester itself was 
hit, is shown by a statement given by the 
Committee of Operative Glovers in 1832. It 
reads : 



60 Gloves, Past and Present 

"There are in Worcester 120 master manu- 
facturers, wlio have been in the habit of 
making, upon an average, one hundred dozens 
of gloves each, per week, which would be 
12,000 per week for the whole; but they are 
now making something under one-third of 
that number. By this means, about ;^ 3,000 
(or $15,000) per week is taken out of circula- 
tion in wages alone ; which money used imme- 
diately to find its way into the hands of the 
retail trader in the purchase of articles of 
consumption." 

In the year 1825, immediately before the 
introduction of French gloves, there were 
few, if any, work people idle in Worcester, 
and the trade was prosperous. On Janu 
ary 10, 1832, out of one thousand men, the 
state of employment stood as follows: 

In full employ 113 

Partial employ 465 

Unemployed 422 

Of the 465, many did not average more than 
two shillings, sixpence, per week. The num- 
ber of children totally dependent upon these 
one thousand men was 1,748. The poor- 
houses were overrun, and large sums for 
relief were paid out of the public pocket. 
Worcester, the chief glove city outside Lon- 
don, continued to decline. 
-In Woodstock the Glovers never were 
incorporated, but the manufacture was pur- 
sued from a remote period. Some of the 
finest English craftsmen labored here to pro- 
duce a very beautiful glove; and that they 
attained to a high degree of perfection is 
certified by the fact that the University of 



Gloves in Many Marts 61 

Oxford, in 1616, presented James I. with, 
"very riclie gloves" in Woodstock. Queen 
Elizabeth also received gloves from the 
Woodstock makers in one of her festal 
"progresses." In those times only English 
deer, sheep and lamb skins were used in the 
Woodstock shops. Since 1825, however, and 
the introduction of French kid skins, most 
of their ancient prestige has been lost. 

Hexham furnished a peculiar glove — so 
long-established that we may regard it as 
having descended unbrokenly from the old 
Saxon gluf — called the "Hexham tan glove," 
made from native sheep skins. The gaunt- 
lets attached to suits of armor were made in 
the same style; and many centuries ago it 
was an important trade in that place. But 
even its modern substitute fell into disuse 
about 1830. 

York "tans" were popular in the days of 
protection. Beaver gloves occupied 3,000 
persons in Hereford, until the sudden indus- 
trial collapse of that town in 1825. Ludlow 
turned out 70,000 dozen pairs of gloves 
annually, and employed one-fifth of its i)opu- 
lation in that trade, collecting the skins 
from Scotland. In 1832, "not six men," we 
read, were employed in glove-making there. 
Kington was another glove centre which 
failed before the middle of the nineteenth 
century. The glove workmen of Leominster 
numbered 900 in 1825; and on the eve of 
legal re-importation its factories were among 
the busiest in the kingdom. In 1831, its 
shops were deserted by all but 163 artisans. 

A community whose associations with 
gloves are particularly interesting, was 



62 Gloves, Past and Present 

Yeovil, where tlie craft was established as 
early as the middle of the sixteenth century, 
giving employment for hundreds of years to 
peasant workmen and workwomen living over 
an area of some twenty miles. At one period 
the number of its masters, cutters and sewers 
was 20,000, and about 300,000 dozens of gloves 
of all kinds were produced annually. An 
ancient folk song of the Yeovil glove-women 
has recently been revived by the Fuller sis- 
ters, to simple harp accompaniment, just as 
it used to be sung, as a "round" or "part 
song," by the diligent sewers as they drew 
their triangular needles in and out of their 
work. It is very quaint and tuneful, mark- 
ing the time of the motions in sewing ; and its 
rhythm, no doubt, facilitated the speed and 
ease with which the women plied their task. 

Yeovil was famous for its military gloves 
for many years. Later, a fine imitation of 
kid gloves was made there; but these were 
crushed out by the return of the genuine 
foreign product. An idyllic industrial com- 
munity was transformed almost over night 
into a desperate and dangerous populace, 
demanding by force the means of bread-win- 
ning which so suddenly had been denied it. 
Hull tells us that to quell these disturbances, 
two troops of dragons were kept continually 
in the town, where, a few years before, "a 
horse-soldier would have been looked upon 
as a sort of centaur by the lower orders of 
the people." 

A territory, not yet mentioned, which was 
closely bound up with the prosperity of the 
glove trade in England, was Ireland. 
Limerick, Dublin and Cork formerly were 



Gloves in Many Marts 63 

noted glove cities. The "Limericks" — a glove 
named for its birthplace — were of exquisite 
texture, and were greatly in favor among 
the aristocratic English for their property 
of rendering the hand of the wearer smooth 
and soft. These gloves were made of "morts" 
or "slinks," the skin of the abortive, or very 
young, calf, lamb or kid. Some of them were 
so beautifully delicate that they could be 
enclosed in a walnut shell. "No glove ever 
exceeded the Limerick in beauty," declares 
Hull. Skin collectors went all over Ireland, 
and the trade was a great boon to the peas- 
antry. But after 1825, the skins were no 
longer worth the trouble of collecting, and a 
great resource of the country was lost. 

To one who views these facts it must be 
apparent that England never was intended 
to compete with France in the skilled making 
of the finest gloves. She could content her 
people with the home product only by exclud- 
ing all foreign gloves; and even then, the 
privileged, who could bribe the government, 
insisted upon the secret importation of gloves 
from France. To be sure, the wave of protec- 
tion rose high in 1462, in 167i5 and in 1744; 
but, in every event there came a reaction, as 
far as the complete prohibition of gloves was 
concerned. Instead of supplying her own 
colonies with the home product, England 
even imported gloves from France, stored 
them in her warehouses, and then shipped 
them at an ad valorem duty to her East 
Indian possessions! 

The truth of the matter was, French glove- 
makers early had won the first place in 
Europe. Struggle as she might, it is exceed- 



64 Gloves, Past and Present 

ingly doubtful whether her rival across the 
Channel ever could have equalled her pres- 
tige. In the heavier varieties of leather 
gloves, English makers did enjoy — and still 
do to-day — an enviable reputation; but here 
their fame stops. England had neither the 
inventive skill nor the natural climate to pro- 
duce the perfect kid glove, for which France 
is so celebrated. 

In France itself, we already have traced in 
the course of other chapters, more or less 
definitely, the development of the glove 
market. Particularly we have followed the 
fortunes of the trade in Grenoble, as being, 
most distinctively, the glove city of the world. 
We have seen Grenoble guarding her precious 
art from "the foreigner"; holding herself on 
the defensive against other French cities, of 
which, under the old laws and internal 
duties, she had no choice but to be jealous. 
We have noted how the Revocation ruined 
many of her neighbors, even while it stimu- 
lated competition beyond the confines of 
France. In the seventeenth century, Paris 
and Grenoble enjoyed the monoply of the 
glove markets of Europe. During the 
eighteenth century, however, these cities 
began to cope with Germany, Italy, Austria, 
and even Russia, in glove-making. The vexed 
question of the exportation of skins was 
settled to the advantage of the manu- 
facturers at home, and unnatural rivalry 
between the different French cities was 
smoothed away. 

The Revolution saw the entire industry, 
apparently, snuffed out. And yet, so deeply 
had the glove trade taken root in French soil 



Gloves in Many Marts 65 

that, at the first breatli of the revival of cul- 
ture and refined manners, under the patron- 
age of the Empress Josephine, this ancient 
art again sprang into being; and, like a 
miracle, the resurrection of the glovers was 
complete. 'At this point the great clients of 
to-day appeared — the United States, recon- 
structing itself, and building up its com- 
merce with the foremost marts of the world. 
The Americans demanded, among other 
things, the most beautiful gloves of Europe. 

Grenoble, on recovering from the shock of 
the Kevolution, the long, dark days of the 
Terror, found, to her chagrin, that she had 
a formidable rival in Paris. Naturally, the 
capital city, the centre of the court, was the 
first place to feel the effects of the renaissance 
of glove-making. Paris swarmed with 
workers, and could get more sewers at lower 
wages than Grenoble contained within its 
gates. In 1810, however, the southern city 
began to reach out into the surrounding 
country for apprentices; and quickly the 
peasant people responded by the hundreds 
and thousands. Many of them flocked to the 
town, filling the places left destitute by the 
violent events of the last twenty years; and, 
for miles about, sewing was portioned out, 
to be done in the small villages and in 
isolated households scattered among the 
mountains. Grazing and goat rearing once 
more became a profitable occupation. 

It proved a long, proud pull — ^but the 
glovers of Grenoble were not to be daunted. 
At last that city's ancient prestige was 
restored. The War of 1870, instead of being 
a set-back, was really a help; for the remote- 



66 Gloves, Past and Present 

ness of Grenoble from tlie seat of war per- 
mitted her to continue working, and orders 
from England and America— wliicli, ordi- 
narily, might have sought other channels — 
she filled in her factories and home shops. In 
1872, to be sure, Grenoble, and all the 
French glovers, suddenly found themselves 
up against tremendous, and totally unex- 
pected, competition with Saxony, Austria, 
Luxembourg and Belgium. These countries 
had devised a means of placing on the market 
remarkably handsome lambskin gloves, which 
rivalled in appearance the fine French kid 
product and sold for far less. But a few 
years of obstinately insisting upon the high 
prices they always had exacted for their 
goods, soon taught the French manufac- 
turers the necessity of finding a less expensive 
kid; and with the development of new 
mechanical inventions for cheaper cutting 
and sewing, Grenoble presently regained her 
firm footing. 

If the seventeenth century must be con- 
sidered little short of marvellous as regards 
glove-making in Grenoble — and it may be 
compared, indeed, to the first five years of a 
child's life, in which he makes, proportion- 
ately, his most astonishing progress — the 
achievements of the industry in the nineteenth 
century, if possible, have been even greater. 
Apart from the facts of the vicissitudes the 
trade had had to face, the battles it had 
waged — and won — all the vast accoutre- 
ments of modern machinery and scientific 
appliances now come into play. Also, a great, 
inventive genius has arisen, destined to 
revolutionize the art of glove-making. 



Chapter VII. 
FEOM AETIST TO AKTISAN 

"There is nothing impossible to industry." — Clio, one of 
the Seven Wise Men of Greece. 

UNTIL now we liave been dealing with 
revolutionar}^ movements in the political 
sense, and, indirectly, their effects upon the 
glove trade. We presently have to consider 
the great revolution within the industry 
itself, which came with the introduction of 
machinery in the nineteenth century, whereby 
productive labor was completely transformed 
and glove-making permanently modernized. 

Earl,y in the nineteenth century, the fac- 
tory system was firmly established in Eng- 
land. The French, however, held out against 
the system, in great measure, as might be 
expected of a people who recently had fought 
so passionately for individual liberty. Child 
labor was an evil against which the French 
economists were vehement in their protesta- 
tions. Apprenticing the young was an 
entirely different matter, without doubt, 
from enslaving children from dawn to dark 
in mills, where they were compelled to repeat 
unceasingly some mechanical detail of the 
process, with very little hope of enlighten- 
ment or advancement in their occupation. 
The French, progressive but not greedy, 
sought to maintain industry upon a humane 
basis. 

With the revival of glove-making at the 
time of the First Empire, the honored methods 
of craftsmanship still were in practice. 
Gloves were made entirely by hand, and the 



68 Gloves, Past and Present 

glove-maker — whetlier designer or workman 
— was, in the true sense, an artist. Patterns, 
cut from thin boards, were laid on the leather, 
and the shape traced with lead pencil. These 
designs were cut out with a pair of long 
scissors. The parts were then sewed together. 
In order to keep the stitches uniform, the 
pieces were placed between a pair of jaws, 
the holding edges of which were serrated 
with fine saw teeth; and the sewer by pass- 
ing the needle forwards and backwards 
between each of these teeth secured neat, 
even-length stitches. The embroidery on the 
backs was done with very great care, and 
necessarily consumed much time. Although 
these gloves possessed the charm peculiar to 
most hand-made articles, the matter of fit 
was purely accidental, for it depended partly 
upon the elasticity of the leather and even 
more upon the skill of the maker. 

In point of skill no glove workers in the 
world at that time surpassed those of 
Grenoble. Relying wholly upon the art of 
her workmen and the dexterity of her sew- 
ing women, the ancient glove city still set the 
standard of excellence for the rest of Europe 
— even in the years when she was not in a 
position to turn out so many gloves, nor sell 
her product so cheaply, as Paris. Though 
forced for some time to take secondary place, 
quantitatively, Grenoble never yielded to her 
rivals in the matter of quality. If she could 
not produce the most gloves, she at least 
would furnish the market with the best gloves. 

The finest tawed skins to be had were 
prepared for the Grenoble glovers in the mills 
at Millau and Annonay. Their value excelled 



From Autist to Artisan 69 

that of any skins tawed by foreigners. On 
this fact, however, the prestige of the 
Grenoble glove did not rest. These beautiful 
skins were sent abroad to manufacturers all 
over Europe, so, in themselves, they did not 
create a monopoly in favor of the city really 
responsible for their superiority. No, it was 
her method of making gloves, the cutting and 
the sewing of them, which actually dis- 
tinguished Grenoble. Her workers enjoyed a 
privileged position in the industry; they 
were celebrated far and near. Other locali- 
ties did their best to entice them away; 
especially did Germany, Piedmont and 
Smtzerland offer inducements, and, whenever 
possible, strangers would enter the Grenoble 
shops to spy upon these artists and steal their 
secrets. But they were never able to carry 
this far enough to establish any great com- 
petition in the international markets. The 
Grenoble glove continued to be much sought 
and exceedingly envied. Not able to procure 
elsewhere gloves of equal beauty, shapeliness 
and finish, merchants far and wide were 
obliged to supply themselves from the city of 
inimitable artists in the Dauphine; and 
thus, without the slightest compulsion from 
the Grenoble manufacturers, these traders 
stimulated their business and spread their 
fame. 

The sewing women, M. Eoux tells us, con- 
stituted a peculiar source of wealth to the 
Grenoble industry. Their exquisite hand- 
work defied all rivalry; there were no other 
such accomplished sewers in all France, nor 
in any other country. To-day they are still 
celebrated ; but then they formed an exclusive 



70 Gloves, Past and Present 

factor of Grrenoble's prestige. Apprenticed 
wMle young girls, they looked upon glove- 
making as a career, an art in wMch they 
desired to perfect themselves. The traditions 
of glove-making forebears held them to the 
ancient metier of the place; and even more 
than the glovers and the male workers, they 
met the encroachments of self-seeking for- 
eigners with an intuitive distrust and i^roud 
resistance. 

Under such conditions as these, the glove 
industr}^ in Grenoble was able to support 
successfully the extreme vicissitudes of the 
post-Eevolutionary era. Even while the wave 
of prosperit}^ rolled, now high, now low, in 
face of other manufacturers it maintained an 
invincible superiority — ^none excelled the skill 
of its handwork. Others were unable to 
counterfeit this; it could not be imitated; 
never elsewhere was it equalled. 

But meanwhile, right at home, unsuspected 
forces were slowly working, which were 
destined to prove at the same time propitious 
and full of danger for the Grenoble glovers. 
The real revolution was approaching; the 
great, internal change which was to be the 
undoing of the old, the uprearing of a new 
industrial system upon the razed foundations 
of the old. The days of the craftsman and the 
artist were numbered. 

Every genius has his forerunner. About 
the year 1819, Yallet d'Artois, a French 
glove manufacturer, invented steel punches 
in three sizes, each of which would cut, or 
punch, out of leather two dozen gloves at 
once. This invention was the first step toward 
the introduction of modern machinerj^ into 



From Artist to Artisan 71 

tlie glove industry. It multiplied tlie effi- 
ciency of the glove cutter, so far as speed was 
concerned, twenty-four times. 

In tlie same year, the genius who was 
finally to revolutionize glove-making was 
barely entering 3^oung manhood. Xavier 
Jouvin has sometimes been called a Parisian. 
He was born, however, in Grenoble, on the 
eighth day of December, 1800, in the house 
in the rue St. Laurent, now bearing the num- 
ber 57. JouAdn was in Paris as a student in 
1817, and he lived there again in 1825. But 
he never felt at home in the least in the 
French capital. He was a provincial by tra- 
dition, birth and natural inclination; a 
student and a dreamer whose spirit was 
nourished by seclusion — b}^ journeying inward 
and exploring its own solitudes rather than 
by contact with men and affairs. 

It seems significant that the first year of 
the new centuiy should have ushered into 
the world one of the leading mechanical 
minds of that epoch. It is also strikingly 
appropriate that Jouvin should have been a 
native of Grenoble, since his name, above all 
others, is identified with the modern industry 
of glove-making. He was a visionary, whose 
single need was the necessity of inventing 
something all his days. He could not see any 
kind of work going on near him but he must 
think how he could make it easier by the 
creation of some mechanical instrument. 
Without ambition for fortune or for fame, 
he was only too contented to proscribe his 
life within apparently narrow limits. Eeturn- 
ing from Paris in 1825, he was resolved to 
enjoy obscurity, the provincial and rural 



72 Gloves, Past and Present 

environment in which his talent throve ; while 
occupying his mind almost exclusively with 
the study of mechanical processes necessary 
to assure exact regularity in cutting gloves. 

Already this young man had invented a 
mowing machine, and a planisphere, by 
means of which, automatically, one could 
determine the position of the stars for every 
night in the year. Now, in turning his atten- 
tion to the problem of regularity of cut in 
gloves, he was really broaching the great 
factor which has given modern glove-making 
its ascendency over the old method — ^namely, 
the element of fit. At the outset he perceived 
the exact terms of the problem which he 
had set himself to solve. First, he must make 
a general classification of the different sizes 
and shapes of hands one meets ; secondly, he 
must ascertain the precise extension of the 
skin required for the measurements of the 
hand he wished to fit. 

By minutely studying hands in the Hos- 
pital of Grenoble, Jouvin discovered and 
wrote out in a rectangle thirty-two different 
sizes of hands. He furthermore recognized 
five types — ^very broad, broad, medium, slen- 
der and very slender — each type being 
divided into two classes. As there were 
thirty-two sizes for each class, and five types 
altogether, this made three hundred and 
twenty different numbers of gloves, which 
proved more than requisite to the demands of 
the finest trade. 

The dies which Jouvin invented and per- 
fected for cutting out these three hundred 
and twenty different gradations of gloves 
consisted of the calibre, or glove pattern, and 



From Artist to Aetisan 73 

the puncli, or emporte-piece, and were made 
of fine tempered steel blades fastened to a 
back of cast iron. In making tlie heavier 
grades of gloves, the die was struck with a 
ponderous mallet, cutting only one thickness 
at a time. By cutting only one piece in this 
way, the artisan avoided any holes in the 
skins which might have been made in killing 
the wild animal or in dressing the leather. 
The thumbs and gussets, or fourchettes — the 
strips inserted to form the sides of the 
fingers — ^were cut with separate dies from 
pieces not large enough for the body of the 
glove, thus utilizing nearly every scrap of 
the material. As the leather was first placed 
upon a block to receive the blows of the 
mallet, this grade of goods came to be called 
"block cut." In "table cut" gloves, however, 
the leather was tranked out on a table and 
shaped for the size desired. Then, by means 
of a power press manj^ pairs were cut at once. 
The nicest part of this process consists in 
getting the leather in proper shape. Dif- 
ferent sizes may be cut with the same pattern 
by estimating accurately the elasticity of the 
leather. Jouvin's calibre is the same by 
which — under many different systems, of 
course — -all gloves are cut to-day. 

Jouvin also studied to determine what 
degrees of pressure the skin will withstand 
in different parts, in order that, in every 
case, just the right piece of material should 
be selected to produce the measurements 
desired. Expert knowledge of skins is equally 
important with proper use of utensils in pro- 
ducing an accurately fitting glove. 



74 Gloves, Past and Present 

In his work Jouvin sought the satisfaction 
of the scientist and the artist rather than any 
financial benefit which might have accrued 
to him from his remarkable system. When 
he had completed his invention, he hardly 
realized its pecuniary value; he took out a 
patent for France, but not for any foreign 
country. The immediate effect of his achieve- 
ment was somewhat curious. 

During Jouvin's own lifetime his inven- 
tion not only failed to profit the glovers of his 
native city, but actually worked them harm. 
He himself groped his way for several years, 
in an attempt to find capital and workers 
which should prove the usefulness of his new 
method. But the manufacturers scoffed at 
him. They declared that Jouvin had "vulgar- 
ized" glove cutting. The glove cutter was 
dethroned; he was no longer an artist. A 
machine did his work, and it was evident 
that with this machine a good cutter could 
turn out good gloves from poor skins, while 
a poor cutter would turn out poor gloves 
from good skins. The calibre certainly was a 
mischievous device, and had turned the glove 
art topsy-turvjM 

Like any inventor, Jouvin himself was not 
greatly affected by all this talk, nor by the 
rebuffs he met whenever he tried to interest 
business men; for he was absorbed in the 
possibilities of further improvement upon 
his invention. He had discovered the calibre 
in 1834; in 1838 — ^without having drawn a 
cent of profit thus far — ^he added the punch, 
or emporte-piece, for automatically cutting 
gloves to measure. In the following year, 
however, his work suddenly received con- 



From Artist to Artisan 75 

spicuous public notice. It was rewarded a 
bronze medal at tbe Industrial Exposition in 
Paris. From tliat moment, Jouvin's future 
as a glove manufacturer was assured, for men 
with money rallied to his support. The first 
thing the Grenoble glovers knew, Germany, 
Switzerland and Italy had all seized upon 
their fellow-citizen's admirable invention and 
were turning it to tremendous commercial 
account. Their outputs were increasing by 
leaps and bounds. But, in France, one fac- 
tory only — that of the inventor — worked, 
while his compatriots stood still for the 
benefit of foreign competitors to whom the 
Jouvin system was free, while debarred from 
French manufacturers under the terms of 
the patent. 

Of course, lawsuits against Jouvin arose, 
as other glovers endeavored to have the broad, 
general idea of stamping out gloves become 
domaine piiblic, or public property. But the 
industry had so far diminished in Grenoble 
in 1840 that that city was not mentioned as 
one of the principle producers of gloves. 

Without doubt, the conservative manu- 
facturers of that town learned their lesson. 
For, in 1849, the year in which the Jouvin 
patents expired, they hastened to shake off 
this decade of depression which had seen 
them bound hand and foot, while the glove- 
makers of other lands rapidly eclipsed them 
in importance ; and immediately they installed 
in their shops the new system. With their 
unrivalled skill and natural precedence now 
reinforced by up-to-date mechanical methods, 
the glovers of Grenoble effected a lightning 
recovery. Moreover, their misfortunes had 



76 Gloves, Past and Present 

not been due to tlie lack of mechanical equip- 
ment alone. Financial panic in America had 
robbed them temporarily of one of their best 
clients; and the price of skins had risen to 
an exorbitant figure in France, even while 
foreigners knew how to get them, without 
paying a heavy duty, from Grenoble's own 
mills at Annonay. 

These conditions, however, were soon to 
be righted. But another challenge to the old 
regime loomed a few years ahead. In 1867, 
at the Paris Exposition, some Grenoble 
glovers paused in front of a fragile, little 
machine, glanced at it with curiosity, and 
went home without any idea that that jnodest 
piece of mechanism was going to cap the 
work of the calibre; and that shortly the 
whole world would possess what, for two cen- 
turies, had been the fortune and renown of 
their native city — the ability to sew gloves 
perfectly. 

The era of labor-saving, quantity-multiply- 
and cost-reducing machinery had indeed 
arrived; and Grenoble, once she realized the 
full significance of "vulgarizing" her ancient 
trade, did not lag far behind. She faced and 
conquered great difficulties in the nineteenth 
century — ^notably, the large increase in the 
"centres" of glove-making, as the trade grew 
and improved abroad ; and also she succeeded 
in finding a cheap, but good, kid to compete 
with the German and Italian lambskins 
which looked so well that they satisfied the 
taste of the general public. These things she 
accomplished with the help of modern 
machinery; for which, in a peculiarly thank- 
less and round-about way, the city owed a 



From Artist to Artisan 77 

great debt to one of her own sons. Tlie 
European glove world paid its tribute to 
Jouvin in 1851, wlien tlie Universal Exposi- 
tion lield in Vienna voted Mm a Diploma of 
Honor. 

A later contribution to tbe teclinique 
of the glove was the modern style of 
fastener, introduced, about 1855, by M. Kay- 
mond of Grenoble. His factory was a valu- 
able addition to the leading industry of that 
city. Koux gives credit to Kaymond for all 
the various changes and improvements in 
glove fasteners which we have to-day. The 
old-fashioned lacing has been completely 
replaced by the clasp, the neatness and 
efficiency of which could hardly be bettered. 

Thus, in the last century, we see virtually 
every trace of the immemorial methods of 
glove-making vanish before the swift incur- 
sion of modern machinery. A few hand-sewn 
gloves alone remain to remind us of the days 
when the couiurieres, peasant women and 
girls gathered in groups in cottages on the 
outskirts of Grenoble, or in the ateliers of the 
town, to sing as they sewed gloves for the 
nobility and the gentry of a former time. But 
the art has gained by the inestimable assets 
of fit and individuality in gloves: by the 
great numbers, also, in which gloves to-day 
are supplied, that we all may delight in wear- 
ing them. 

In respect to Grenoble, moreover, it should 
be observed that, through all these changes 
and commercializing influences, she has sacri- 
ficed not a whit of her invincible good taste. 
Against foreign competition and the paraly- 
sis which she suffered under the Jouvin 



78 Gloves, Past and Present 

patent, she had only the superiority of her 
product to offer — the suppleness of her skins, 
the elegance of their cut, the beauty of the 
tints artificially applied, the finish and dura- 
bility of her sewing. But these were enough 
to keep her art alive. They still prevail — 
and in even higher degree — in the gloves of 
Grenoble makers to-day. 

In the evolution from artist to artisan, 
there is little room for regret. Already the 
glove-workers of France have readjusted very 
largely to changed conditions within the 
industry; while the consumer and producer 
alike may rejoice in the widespread accessi- 
bility of the finest gloves in the world. 



Chapter VIII. 
ANNONAY AND ITS INDUSTKY 

"In France, kid-culture is carried to perfection. ... To 
this is due the value of the French skins, which command 
higher prices than any in the market." — William 8. Beck. 

NO history of gloves would be complete 
wliicli failed to take into account the 
old French town of Annonay and its cele- 
brated industry. Annonaj^ has been men- 
tioned several times already in the course of 
these pages, when the subject of fine French 
skins was touched upon, and especially in 
connection with the diflficulties which arose 
over the free exportation of these beautiful 
leathers to manufacturers outside France. 
At once the foundation of the glovers' pros- 
perity, and the source to them of hardship 
and bitter contention for want of proper 
domestic protection of the trade in skins, 
both Annonay and the town of Millau were 
famous as old-established centres of the taw- 
ing industry. 

And right here, for the benefit of the lay- 
man, it might not come amiss to define the 
distinction between the well-known process 
of tanning leather, and the less familiar 
method of dressing skins, called tawing. 
The latter is applied almost exclusively to 
leathers in preparation for glove-making. It 
differs from ordinary tanning in point of the 
greater care and cleanliness of all the opera- 
tions. Also, the dressed skin is submitted to 
a brief fermentation, by piling one piece upon 
another in a very warm place, so that, under 
the influence of the heat and the pressure, the 



80 Gloves, Past and Present 

softness and flexibility of tlie leather may be 
increased. The actual "tawing" itself con- 
sists in treating the skins with a mixture of 
flour, the yolks of eggs and alum. On the com- 
pletion of this operation, they are stretched 
by hand and dried as rapidly as possible. 

The expert preparation of glove leather, 
then, was the chief accomplishment of 
Annonay and Millau. In regard to the latter, 
it was that city which particularly was 
embarrassed by the lambskin competition of 
1872. Millau long had made a specialty of 
tawing lambskin, but had not discovered the 
secret of making the fine-looking gloves which 
now, suddenly, were put upon the market by 
Germany and other foreign countries. These 
manufacturers abroad redoubled their activi- 
ties, initiating new styles and even receiving 
compensations from their governments. For 
a time Millau folded its arms and submitted, 
as M. Roux tells us, "in tranquil despair." 

But before long Millau makers were hard 
at work studying and experimenting to pro- 
duce a cheaper grade of glove which, like 
its rivals abroad should meet the growing 
demand for a popular-price article with all 
the fine appearance of genuine kid. The 
glove trade, along with other industries of 
the period, found that it must adapt itself to 
the insistency on democratization of all 
products. It must recognize the spirit of the 
times; and in the cause of social equality, it 
must furnish those who could not, or would 
not, buy expensive kid gloves, with an excel- 
lent substitute, as far as style and finish 
were concerned. 



. Annonay and Its Industry 81 

Lambskins, at this period, became the 
glove of democracy ; and Millau, quicklj^ over- 
taking her foreign competitors, is to-day pro- 
ducing fine lambskin gloves which are second 
to none in Europe. 

But, to return to Annonay, whose name is 
identified with the ancient art of tawing as 
far back, probably, as the fourteenth centurj^ ! 
The place has been called — and not inap- 
propriately — the twin city of Grenoble. Its 
industry, certainly, went hand in hand and 
ranked equally in importance with that of 
the celebrated glove town. Without Annonay 
tanners and tawers Grenoble would have 
lacked the fine skins indispensable to her 
manufacture, and might never have held 
first position as a producer of the most beauti- 
ful gloves in the world. 

Also, geographically^, there is a striking 
resemblance between the two cities, which 
likewise has an important bearing upon their 
affiliations in commerce. Annonay, in the 
department of the Ardeche, in south-eastern 
France, is irregularly and picturesquely built 
on several small hills, overlooking the deep 
gorges of the Deome and the Cance. Thus, 
it stands near the confluence of two large, 
swift rivers, almost exactly as Grenoble does ; 
and the waters of these rivers — torrential 
streams, subject to sudden floods — supply 
power to the factories of the town. By means 
of a dam across the Ternay, a tributary of 
the Deome, to the northwest of the city, a 
reservoir is provided, in which an additional 
supply of water, for both industrial and 
domestic purposes, is stored. Moreover, the 
river Ardeche flows in close proximity — like 



82 Gloves, Past and Present 

the Isere unexcelled for its purity. By virtue 
of the especial qualities of its waters, Anno- 
nay has become what it is — the chief home of 
French dressers of glace kid skins. 

The climate, like that environing Grenoble, 
is particularly favorable to the raising of 
goats and sheep. The Oevannes mountains 
almost cover the department of the Ardeche, 
and their spurs provide rich grazing country. 
The peasants are shepherds worthy of that 
ancient calling. The young kids are as care- 
fully nurtured and watched over as are the 
children in the family, for absolutely nothing 
must be allowed to cause any defects in their 
skins. They must be killed at a tender age, 
for as soon as the kid begins to eat herbage, 
his pelt is injured for the finer qualities of 
gloves. Indeed, the perfect glove animal is 
milk-fed — and necessarily short-lived. 

However, when the kids are allowed to 
grow up and become goats, their skins are 
still useful for the heavier, stronger grades 
of gloves. Such are termed chevrettes, that 
being the French name for goats. The same 
care is exercised that these animals shall not 
meet with any injury to their hides, and good 
chevrette leather is invaluable for pique and 
prickseam gloves, which rank very high 
indeed. 

Formerly, skins of chamoix, and both wild 
and domestic animals, were collected all over 
the country by a class of people correspond- 
ing to what were known in England as 
"higglers." Ultimately, all these trophies 
found their way into the hands of the famous 
dressers of Annonay. In these days, the 
leading glove manufacturers of Grenoble 



Annonay and Its Industry 83 

buy their skins "in the raw" at the Spring 
fairs, which are held at various centres 
throughout France. When they have as- 
sembled their lots, they then ship them to 
the dressing factory in Annonay. 

"The dressing of leather," says Hull, in his 
History of the Glove Trade, published in Eng- 
land in 1834, "formed one of the earliest occu- 
pations of mankind in all countries; and it 
is a significant fact that Laplanders, Africans 
and Canadian Indians dress skins in the 
highest perfection, altho' their means and 
processes necessarily are of the rudest kind. 
The Laplanders also make very tolerable 
gloves." 

With all due respect to the Laplanders, 
and other aborigines, we venture to place 
the tawers of Annonay above even those 
primitive artists to whom Mr. Hull gave first 
credit. Mr. Hull wrote his little book to 
prove that the free trade policy would be the 
ruination of England's home manufactures — 
nor was he greatly mistaken, as far as the 
glove business of his day was concerned. 
Naturally, this vehement protectionist had 
little good to say of French methods — ^which 
accounts, perhaps, for his going back to the 
uncivilized peoples to pay his debt for the 
art of leather-dressing ; in England, certainly, 
at that period, skill in preparing glove skins 
was sadly lacking. 

The finest qualities of French kid skins, 
suitable for glace hand-wear, come from the 
valleys of the Loire, the Rhone, the Poiton 
and Auvergne. Inferior to these are those 
which emanate from the extreme south of 



84 Gloves, Past and Present 

France, from Provence and the Pyrenees ; as 
one nears Spain, tlie skins coarsen. 

At Annonay, the skin-dressing industry — 
like that of glove-making at Grenoble — has 
been established for so many centuries, that 
long family lines have devoted themselves 
for successive generations to that single call- 
ing. Fathers, sons and grandchildren have 
passed their lives and spent their efforts in 
furthering and perfecting the art of prepar- 
ing glove skins which should be without a 
rival. The "French National" skins are the 
result. Doubtless they are the finest skins 
in the world. 

To appreciate fully the perfection of this 
art, and its importance to the science of 
glove-making, a visit to the largest skin- 
dressing establishment in Annonay to-day 
would appear almost indispensable. In 
imagination, accordingly^, let us enter the 
factory in question, owned and operated by 
Messrs. Briancon & Company. We find it a 
large, airy, well-lighted, four-storied struc- 
ture, recently built for the express purpose 
for which it is now used. 

When the skins "in the hair" arrive at this 
factory they are at once hoisted to the top 
fioor, where they are unpacked and piled up 
in stacks. The dresser holds the skins on 
account of the manufacturer of gloves who 
has bought them at the fairs. To each manu- 
facturer is allotted suf^cient floor space in 
the fourth story of the dressing factory to 
receive his supply of skins. Each stack is 
ticketed with the name of the owner or 
owners — that is, the manufacturer — and its 
place of origin. 



Annonay and Its Industry 85 

Each layer of skins, as placed on tlie stack, 
is well sprinkled with naphtha to disinfect 
and keep it wholesome. If the hides are to 
remain long in the stacks before going into 
the dressing, they must be unstacked from 
time to time, shaken out, aired, and restacked, 
to prevent them from overheating. When the 
dresser receives from the manufacturer in- 
structions to put one of his lots into the 
dressing, the first thing that has to be done 
is carefully to inspect each skin in the pile; 
it is then classified as "hard," "extra strong," 
or "medium"; as "fine" or "superfine." 

After all the skins in the stack have been 
looked over, and sorted in this manner, they 
are carried to the ground floor of the factory 
and placed in tanks of clear, cold water, in 
which they must remain for forty-eight hours. 
At the end of that time, they are thoroughly 
washed in running cold water, and are again 
put into the tanks, where they are kept for 
another forty-eight hours. 

The next step is one of the most particular 
in the entire process. The skins are removed 
from the clear water into tanks of concrete, 
simk in the floor of the factory, which are 
filled with a mixture of water and dead sifted 
lime. Every forty-eight hours they are taken 
out and well swilled with a similar mixture ; 
then immediately replaced in the tanks. The 
length of time skins should be kept in this 
lime bath depends upon their character and 
origin. The effect of the lime on the skin is 
to render it very easy to scrape off the hair. 
According to the regions from which they 
come, skins remain in the bath for from ten 
to twenty-five days. This lime treatment is 



86 Gloves, Past and Present 

the most crucial point in the dressing of kid 
skins, for it is only after long years of experi- 
ence that a master dresser knows exactly how 
long it takes to render — let us say, for 
instance — an Auvergne skin "unhairable." If 
the skins are left even twenty-four hours too 
long in the lime mixture, they are so damaged 
as to be useless for manufacturing into high 
grade gloves. 

When it is judged that the skins have 
remained long enough in the lime bath, they 
are taken out and then energetically washed 
in clear, running water ; after which they are 
passed along to another set of men who place 
them, one by one, flat, over a smooth, rounded 
block of wood, and with a blunt, two-handled, 
almost scythe-shaped knife, proceed to scrape 
the hair and fat off the surface of the skins. 
The "unhairing" completed, the skins, still 
wet and mussy, are passed on to women 
workers who trim the edges — to which ad- 
heres superfluous fat — with large hand 
shears. 

The next process is to rid the skins of the 
lime with which tliej have been charged. 
Therefore, scraped and trimmed, they are sub- 
merged in a large, wooden vat, containing hot 
water mixed with an entirelj^ new product, 
invented by Monsieur Louis Peyrache. This 
product is called "peroly" and is an enemy to 
lime. When the skins are lifted out of this 
solution they are found to be quite devoid of 
all traces of the latter. 

Following the "peroly bath," the skins are 
placed in another large tub full of hot water, 
above which passes a crank connected with an 
electric motor, from which crank four shafts 



Annonay and Its Industry 87 

terminating in wooden "stampers" hang down 
into the tub. Tlie tub also revolves on a 
spindle connected with, the motor. The object 
of this bath is to free the skins of every ves- 
tige of the peroly; and the effect of the hot 
water is to open the pores in the skins and 
render them more easily deprived of the ani- 
mal matter they contain. 

The skins have now been well washed and 
thoroughly cleaned. They appear almost 
transparent. But the series of "baths" is not 
over. However, before another is attempted, 
the skins are laid again across the wooden 
blocks and as much as possible of the fatty 
substance which still adheres to them is 
scraped off with the blunt knives already 
described. In this instance, as previously, 
the skins are scraped on the sides from which 
the hair was removed in the first place, known 
as the "fleur" side of the sldn. Then comes 
the bran bath. In a mixture of luke warm 
water and bran they are gently stirred 
around by means of long, wooden props 
fitted with ferules of india-rubber. Once 
more the skins are lifted out and laid on the 
blocks ; and this time the scraping is done on 
the "flesh" or inside. Another bran bath 
follows, and now the skins require careful 
watching. When the master dresser judges 
that they have stayed long enough in this 
second bran solution, they are again, one by 
one, laid over the blocks, when all the remains 
of the bran are scraped off. 

Now the skins are put into a large, closed 
receptacle, containing a mixture of the yel- 
lows of eggs, meal and alum. This mixture 
"feeds" the skins; it is a kind of "wrinkled 



88 Gloves, Past and Present 

paste" in the beautifying process. It fills up 
the pores which have been impoverished 
through the loss of their natural fat and oil. 
The next day, the skins are taken out of this 
bath, and are strung up in a large room 
through which flows a current of dry, heated 
air. In stringing up the skins here, care 
always is taken to fold them with the "fleur" 
surface inside. After they have become 
thoroughly dried, they are tied up into 
packets of six dozen each, and left in a dry, 
normal atmosphere for fifteen days, or even 
a month. By this time the skins are quite 
hard and brittle. 

To take out the stiffness, the skins now 
are dipped into clear, cold water for a few 
minutes. They are left in the air until the 
following day, when they are passed through 
a set of rollers which help to make them 
supple; after which they are sent imme- 
diately to the "palisson." This process rein- 
vigorates the dressed skins, rendering them 
plastic and easily stretched. By the old- 
fashioned method, it is performed by hand. 
The "palisson" consists, as formerly, of a 
large, rounded, blunted steel blade, pointing 
upwards, and fastened into a wooden block, 
over which the skin is dravm backwards and 
forwards, with its flesh side on the blade. 
After this operation, the skin is rubbed over 
another blade, similarly shaped, but slightly 
sharpened. By means of this, the remainder 
of the flesh is cut away from the surface of 
the skin, thus giving it the softness and white- 
ness which, by this time, it will have acquired. 

In these days, the "palisson" process is 
also performed by girls at revolving wheels 



Annonay and Its Industry 89 

run by a motor, and tlie results obtained com- 
pare very well indeed with the old-fashioned 
method of palisson by hand. 

The skins are now completely dressed. 
Lastly, they are sent to the classing room to 
be examined by experts and sorted according 
to their qualities. They are then forwarded 
to the manufacturers at Grenoble. 

In the United States kid gloves manu- 
factured out of skins from all over Europe, 
and even from northern Africa and China, are 
to be found on the counters of the glove shops. 
But the best kidskins come from France, and 
are invariably dressed in Annonay and manu- 
factured into gloves at Grenoble. The 
American, then, who buys gloves of French 
origin, Annonay dressed, and made in Gre- 
noble, may flatter himself that he is enjoying 
perfection itself in hand-wear. 



Chapter IX. 
THE GLOVES WE BUY 

"There's nothing like leather. Leather is a product of 
Nature. Take a piece of leather and observe the way the 
fibres are knit together. It is Nature's work. It is so won- 
derful that man cannot hope to reproduce it. He cannot 
even re-create it. Boil a piece of hide or skin. It will turn to 
gelatine. No power known to man can turn that gelatine back 
into leather. Shred it. No machine can reweave the fibres 
into their former wonderful fabric. Take all the chemicals 
which go to make up a piece of leather, and mix them in all 
the ways that can be imagined, and man cannot make a single 
inch of leather. Synthetic leather seems farther away than, 
the synthetic diamond." 

THE person wlio enters a glove shop of 
reputation — or the glove department of 
any high class store — to buy gloves, probably 
has a very limited notion of the variety of 
fabrics and workmanship represented by the 
goods before him. To this single line of mer- 
chandise nearly every country in the world 
contributes to-day; not merely in the his- 
torical sense, in which we have watched the 
glove evolve through the centuries, but also 
in point of materials and processes actually 
used. The glove counter, little as we may 
appreciate it, brings together the riches and 
skill of the Orient, of Africa, of Europe, and 
of the Western World. A glance at some of 
the names, familiar to us all, as cape and 
mocha, immediately suggests their origin in 
far distant countries. 

And yet, perhaps for economy of expres- 
sion — if not from positive ignorance — the 
general public divides all leather dress gloves 
into just two classes, "dressed kid" and "un- 
dressed kid." Everything with the grain 
surface, or smooth finish, is designated by 



The Gloves We Buy 91 

the former term; tlie latter is popularly 
applied to gloves with the grain surface 
removed, or finished on the flesh side of the 
skin. To the initiated, however, gloves are 
distinguished primarily by the different kinds 
of leather of which they are made; and, still 
further, by the great variety of qualities 
which each kind of leather is capable of 
exhibiting. 

In the glove trade men talk of "cape," 
"suede," "doeskin," "lambskin," "kid"— nor 
is the meaning of each of these nearly so 
obvious, nor so simple, as would casuallj^ 
appear. If, in every case, the name were 
properly applied to skins which came from a 
distinct type of animal, grown in one partic- 
ular district, whose hide was tanned into 
leather by its own peculiar process, then the 
quality and character of each kind of leather 
would be practically uniform. But such is far 
from being the fact. When first used, no 
doubt, each of these terms meant a certain, 
well-defined thing. Now, however, in the 
evolution of processes of production, the 
meaning has been enlarged; and virtually 
any of these designations covers a much 
wider scope, even departing radically, in 
many instances, from its original application. 

Let us take, for example, the "cape" glove. 
In the first place this name was used to dis- 
tinguish a glove made of skins from the Cape 
district of South Africa. These skins were 
large spread, heavy, rather tight grained, and 
are still used in the production of genuine 
cape gloves. But the soft, pliable, widely- 
worn glove, in various weights, now commer- 
cially known as cape, is manufactured from 



92 Gloves, Past and Present 

sheep and lamb skins grown in many lands, 
and tanned and dressed by tlie method called 
"napa dipped." What was once the name 
for a glove made from one type of skins is 
now the designation for hand-wear made 
from leather of a particular tannage, for 
which skins of many types, grown in many 
lands, are used. 

Probably the best types of these skins 
come from Eussia to-day — the district fur- 
nishing the most desirable qualities being the 
province of Kasan and the nearby territory 
of the Volga Eiver. Others of varying degrees 
of merit emanate from Spain, as well as from 
the European Orient — Turkey, Eoumania, 
Bulgaria, Montenegro and Servia; and, to a 
small extent, from some other vicinities. All 
these are called Oriental skins. Those with 
the finest grades of wool, oddly enough, are 
Inferior, usually, to those which have hairy, 
wiry wool — as far as their desirability for 
glove leather is concerned. Evidently, then, 
the place of origin, the character of the pelt, 
and the method of its tannage, all have 
important bearing on the quality of the 
cape glove. 

But if the cape is made from lamb skin, 
what, then, is the distinguishing feature 
between the lamb glove and the cape glove? 
How are we to tell them apart? Up to that 
stage in tannage referred to as "in the 
white," these two leathers are practically the 
the same — except that the skins which are 
to go into the capes are heavier and larger. 
It is in the finishing and coloring processes 
that the distinction occurs. The dressing 
and coloring — which, in fact, is a part of the 



The Gloves We Buy 93 

tannage of the capes and completes this 
process — is done by the "drum" or "dipped" 
method. This colors the skin all the way 
through; whereas, leather for the so-called 
lamb glove has the color brushed on the 
grain surface only, leaving the flesh side of 
the leather, which is to be the inside of the 
glove, in the white. 

Thus, the visible marks of difference 
between the cape glove and the lamb glove, 
so-named, are in the weight of the stock, and 
in the fact that the cape, when colored, is 
dyed through the skin, instead of merely on 
the grain surface. 

German tanners have been the largest 
converters of lamb and sheep skins into cape 
leather by the napa tannage, which is an 
alum process. And it is the German stock 
which, until recently, was chiefly used in the 
American-made cape gloves. In the year 
1913, however, several American tanners 
devised a chrome cape tannage, which 
appears to be even superior to the napa 
process, and possesses the added merit that 
it may be cleansed in water free of alkali of 
any temperature up to 212° Fahrenheit. It is 
this leather — really an American discovery — 
which goes into the gloves popularly known 
as washable capes. Since the outbreak of 
the European War, in 1914, chrome tanning 
has been further improved in this country; 
and as real Cape of Good Hope leather is 
used, the United States is producing to-day 
the best cape gloves ever known, and the 
German tanned napa cape is fast being 
discarded. 

While mocha is made from skins grown in 



94 Gloves, Past and Present 

far distant lands, moclia gloves are distinctly 
of American origin. With tlie march, of civili- 
zation westward in the United States, and the 
disappearance of the antelope from the 
western plains of North America some thirty- 
five years ago, a skin was sought by glove 
manufacturers in this country to take the 
place of the antelope, which was used in mak- 
ing a glove in those days known as doeskin. 
After patient search, and much experiment- 
ing with various species of skins and different 
tanning processes, a tannage was perfected 
for the skin of the Arabian hair sheep which 
produced the strong, but soft, velvety finished 
mocha. 

The skin derives its name, no doubt, from 
Mocha, a seaport town of Arabia on the Red 
Sea, whence, it is said, these skins were first 
brought. The Mocha hair sheep is a distinct 
type, and is not a species resulting from cross 
breeding between the Mocha goat and a kind 
of wool sheep, as often has been stated. 
While the Mocha goat and the Mocha sheep 
herd together, they do not interbreed. The 
mocha market of the world is Aden, at the 
southern end of Arabia. The buyers here 
keep native collectors at the chief points to 
which skins are conveyed by caravans. These 
points are Moka, Berber a. Bulbar, Djibouti 
and Zeylah in Africa, and Hodeidah in 
Arabia. The skins are sorted and graded 
according to size, weight and condition; then 
they are baled, about three hundred in a lot. 
First, however, they are sun-dried, and are 
treated with naphthaline to protect them 
from damage by worms. 



The Gloves We Buy 95 

In tlie vernacular of the trade, these skins 
are referred to as wMte-lieads, black-heads 
and red-heads. They are thus classified in 
reference to the color of the hair on the heads 
of the animals, the bodies being black and 
white, red and white, or all white. However, 
as the head colors denote a type of skin with 
more or less well defined characteristics, 
these designations are more scientific than 
would appear. For glove leather the black- 
heads rank first in quality, the white-heads 
second, and the red-heads third. The black- 
head type, which comes principally from the 
African districts mentioned, is more dis- 
tinctly a hair skin than the other two types, 
and has a tighter, firmer texture. With the 
white-heads, which are chiefly Arabian skins, 
the hair is of a more woolly character and 
the fibre of the skin is looser. This last is 
also true of the red-heads, in which these ele- 
ments are even more pronounced. Certain 
other kinds of sheep skins — ^notably those 
found in the district between Cairo and 
Khartum, known as "Sudans" — have been 
adapted for the manufacture of mocha leather. 
These yield a much larger spread, coarser 
fibre skin than the mocha hair sheep; but 
when tanned by the mocha process, sudans 
sufficiently resemble the mocha to be sold for 
that article — except to the expert. 

No other glove leather passes through so 
many different processes in tanning and 
dressing as does the mocha. This is chiefly 
due to the fact that the skins, at their source, 
are handled by the natives in a crude sort of 
way, and under the crusted, sun-dried surface 
there are often many defects which do not 



96 Gloves, Past and Present 

show until tlie skin is subjected to tlie tan- 
ning process. Mocha skins invariably are 
scratched, scarred and imperfect on the grain 
surface ; for this reason the grain is removed. 
At the same time, as much of the grain 
strength as possible must be preserved while 
eliminating the imperfections. 

This method, which is called "friezing," 
distinguishes the mocha from the suede glove. 
Though in appearance, when finished, they 
are very similar, mocha and suede actually 
are extremel}^ different in character. In the 
friezed mocha, the outer or wearing surface 
of the glove, which receives the finish, is on 
the grain and not on the flesh side of the 
leather. Friezing merely removes the grain 
to take the finish, thus leaving much of the 
strength of the outer skin — while in suede or 
other "undressed" finishes, this strength is 
entirely lacking. 

The name suede is derived purely from 
the sueding process, and not from the kind 
of leather used. Skins with perfect grain 
usually are finished on the grain surface side 
and are called glace. But many with imper-i 
feet grain are finished on the fiesh side of the 
skin, by the sueding process. Suede, then, is 
exactly the reverse of mocha, in that what 
was the inside of the skin becomes the out- 
side of the glove. Suede leather, obviously, is 
inferior in strength, if not in appearance, to 
the same types of skins dressed on the grain 
side. It has by no means the durability of 
mocha — though a high-grade suede strikingly 
resembles mocha. 

Although "chamois" is not chamois, it is 
by no means a sham. And that the "doeskin" 



The Gloves We Buy 97 

is most likely a eweskin is notMng to its 
discredit. The chamois of commerce is not 
the skin of the Switzerland animal known by 
that name, nor is the doeskin of to-day the 
skin of the one-time antelope. Both are 
sheep skins, or parts of sheep skins, tanned 
and dressed as chamois and doeskins. Col- 
lectors and dealers in sheep skins at their 
source, in some districts find it necessary, or 
advantageous, to split the skins edgewise, 
making two thinner skins. The upper part, 
with the grain surface, is termed a "skiver," 
and the lower section a "flesher." It is from 
these flesher sheepskins that the leathers 
commercially known as chamois and doeskin 
are produced. 

The tanning processes of chamois are 
many, the most common being the oil tan- 
nage, alum and chrome. The finest selections 
of fleshers, split from sheepskins of the 
Scotch mountains, and from France, Spain 
and Turkey, are oil tanned and are used for 
the production of the washable chamois glove. 
Another, and comparatively recent, tannage 
of fleshers, is the formaldehyde process which 
supplies the leather commercially known as 
doeskin. Properly tanned for that purpose, 
these leathers will wash perfectly under the 
prescribed rules for washing. Trade in these 
gloves, however, has suffered from intense 
competition which has forced a cheap, quicker 
tannage, and one which will preserve the 
largest possible spread to the skin. And some- 
times the washing quality has been sacrificed 
to secure a finer "face" to the leather. Tan- 
nages even are used which render the leather 
not washable but actually impervious to 



98 GrLOVES, Past and Present 

water — simply for the sake of tlie pleasing 
appearance of the skin when new. These 
things, coupled with the wearer's careless 
disregard of proper methods of washing, have 
cast some measure of discredit upon what 
are really meritorious gloves. 

But, as regards the really reputable 
chamois glove of to-day! In the first place, 
how absurd to the initiated is the question, 
so often asked by the customer, "Is this 
genuine chamois?" Think of it! An animal 
grown in the Swiss Alps, and, like the Ameri- 
can buffalo, now almost extinct, is supposed 
by many people to produce chamois gloves 
for the whole, civilized world! As we have 
seen, "genuine chamois" is sheep or lamb 
skin, tanned by a simple process similar to 
that used on the real chamois, many, many 
years ago. Sheep skins give the best results ; 
but lamb skins are used to a limited extent. 
The latter make finer gloves, but not so 
durable, as these skins scarcely can stand 
the hard usage this leather requires in 
preparation. 

The entire tanning process of chamois 
leather calls for absolutely nothing but fish 
oil. No dye, no acid, no alkali goes into this 
leather, and thus its washing qualities are 
unquestioned. After the skins have remained 
in the vats in this oil a sufficient length of 
time — a month or more, as is determined by 
experts — they are wrung out and hung up 
in drying rooms, without ventilation, and a 
few fagots of wood kept burning. When 
thoroughly dry they have what is known as 
the "natural" or yellow color, and no two 
tannings come out alike in shade. When a 



The Gloves We Buy 99 

cream color, or wMte, is desired, another 
process follows. An expert goes through the 
skins, selecting those that have body and 
strength enough to stand the severe washing 
they are to get. These skins are put into 
vats or tubs of clear water and washed 
"French fashion" — which means, beaten with 
a club — and are then wrung out again and 
laid on the grass in the sun to bleach. 

If cream color is wanted, a day or two on 
the grass in the sun will suffice. But if white 
is desired — and it mostly is preferred— a 
week or ten days is required for this bleach- 
ing, depending, of course, on the weather. 
Good, sunshiny weather means good, white 
chamois leather; while a long spell of dull, 
cloudy weather means a poor shade of white, 
with plenty of white chalk rubbed into the 
skins to make them appear whiter. Irre- 
spective of the sun, they will all get some 
chalk, however. It is interesting to note that 
these skins are supposed to imbibe a great 
deal of nourishment from the grass as they 
lie exposed to the sunlight. White chamois 
gloves, which have been put away for some 
time in boxes, will begin to turn back to a 
dull yellow; but if placed in the light, in a 
store or in a window, they will turn white 
again. 

After the yellowing or bleaching process, 
the chamois skins — natural, cream or white — 
have only to go to the doler to be ready for 
the cutter's knife. At the best, this glove is 
rather rough looking, but it is simple and 
artistic, and especially in keeping with the 
travelling or sport costume. Also, at the 
end of the journey, or after the out-of-door 



100 GrLOVES, Past and Present 

game, such a glove may be washed as easily 
and successfully as a pocket-handkercMef. 
So, its popularity is enduring. 

Already we are somewhat familiar with 
kid gloves, from our detailed study of the 
great industry of Grenoble, including the 
dressers' works at Annonay. Nearly all the 
kid skins used in glove-making are procured 
in Europe, and the production really is 
limited to a very few countries. As we have 
seen, France leads. Next comes Italy, then 
Germany, Austria, and — ^up to the disaster 
of August, 1914 — Belgium. Several months 
are consumed, and a dozen or more processes 
are necessary, before kid skins are in the 
market as glove leather. These operations 
have been fully described in the chapter 
immediately preceding. When the finished 
skins appear "in the white" they are ready 
for the dyer. 

An expert goes through the skins and 
assorts them for the different colors for 
which they are best adapted. For instance, 
some skins will make good tan shades, but 
would not make greys — and so on, through 
the entire list of colors. As all skins take the 
black dje well, it follows that the last sort- 
ings go into black. Black and white are the 
easiest of all to dye; and perfect skins, dyed 
white, show to the best advantage of any — 
while grej is a color which is a l)ete noir to 
all manufacturers and dyers. Hundreds of 
dollars have been literally thrown away in 
an attempt to produce some particular shade. 
Suede leather yields more readily and accu- 
rately to the dyer's art than glace, and 
furnishes a greater variety of shades. For 



The Gloves We Buy 101 

tMs reason, and because of their fine, velvety 
surface, they are considered by many the 
most beautiful of all gloves; and by the 
fastidious are preferred for opera and even- 
ing wear. 

Kid skins produced in other countries 
than France all have about the same charac- 
teristics. But French Nationals remain 
invariably the best. It may be added that 
kids raised in low, flat countries, like Bel- 
gium, while presenting a fine appearance, 
never have the strength of the highland 
skins. 

Lambskins, like kid, are nearly all found 
in Europe, but they cover a much wider 
range of territory. Like kid skins, they are 
carefully nurtured and guarded against im- 
perfections. They are grown in Italy, Sicily, 
Sardinia, Corsica, Spain, France, Germany, 
Austria, Eussia and the Balkan States, the 
product of the latter being known — like the 
sheepskins for "cape" purposes — as "Oriental 
leather." For fine lambskin gloves the best 
leather of all comes from northern Italy, and 
is termed, commercially, "Tuscany skins"; 
these rival kid skins for fine grain and 
durability. Next in value comes the fine 
French lamb known as "Eigord." Then fol- 
low the Spanish skins. The Eussian (Kasan) 
and Oriental skins are of equal value with 
some of the above named, many of them run- 
ning very fine in grain and producing remark- 
ably durable gloves. As they tend to be 
heavier in weight, however, the larger part 
of this class of lambskins finds its way into 
men's gloves. It is said that fully 80% of 
Oriental leather goes to German and English 



102 Gloves, Past and Present 

tanneries, wMcli prepare more especially 
materials for tlie heavier grades of gloves. 

In the tanning or dressing of lambskins, 
the processes are practically the same as in 
the prepara,tion of kid and goat skins for the 
glove manufacturer. Lambskins also are 
subjected to the same examination by experts 
to determine the colors they will take best. 
In fact, the only real difference between fine 
kid and fine lamb gloves is that the former is 
of a more delicate, yet firmer, grain, and pro- 
duces a better wearing article with more 
intrinsic value. 

Nearly all colors, applied in dyeing both 
kid and lamb gloves, are put on with a brush. 
The skins are laid on marble slabs, and the 
color brushed on, a sufficient number of coats 
being given to produce the desired shade and 
to fix it thoroughly and evenly. This explains 
wh}^ colored gloves remain white on the 
inside, as the dyes do not strike through, 
Some of the light, or extremely delicate tints, 
however — as pink, cream, azure, lilac — will 
not take the color with brushing. In such 
cases, the skin must be immersed in the dye, 
or "dipped"; and then the color shows, of 
course, on both exterior and interior. 

After the dj^er's work is done, and the 
skins would appear to a novice ready for the 
cutter, still another process has to be gone 
through, requiring an entirely different kind 
of skilled labor. This is the process of 
"doling" — ^mentioned a few paragraphs back, 
in connection with chamois — and it consists 
in reducing each skin to a uniform thickness 
throughout, as nearly as possible. The doler 
lays the skin on a marble slab and with a 



The Gloves We Buy 103 

broad, flat knife, sliarp as a razor, goes over 
tlie inner surface, planing or doling off the 
uneven places. A thoroughly good cutter 
always doles his own skins. Some manu- 
facturers, however, employ dolers for this 
purpose exclusively. 

Such are the leading leathers used in the 
making of fine gloves. Developments in tan- 
ning have also brought into use the skins of 
many animals ordinarily considered of no 
value to the glove trade. While deer, sheep, 
kid and calf skins in former daj^s were used 
exclusively, in our times the skins of dogs, 
foxes, bears, the cow, the colt, the kangaroo 
— and almost every hair animal — are em- 
ployed to some extent. Most of these, how- 
ever, could never pass for fine products, even 
among the uninitiated-— with the possible 
exception of colt; and they are used only by 
inferiors in the trade, with whom the pres- 
ent discussion of glove-making has nothing 
to do. These coarse leathers are honest 
enough, however, in the hands of Esquimaux, 
backwoodsmen, and people who are obliged 
to provide out of the materials within reach 
warm coverings for the hands. But, in such 
cases, the fur is usually left on the hide, 
deceiving no one. 

And now we come to the actual turning 
of the leather into gloves. Since Xavier 
Jouvin's invention, the glove cutter has not 
actually cut out gloves. The old method of 
tracing the pattern and following it with 
the scissors has completely vanished. But 
the glove cutter, still so-called, exercises a 
great deal of care and skill in cutting oblong- 
shaped pieces of leather which will make 



104 Gloves, Past and Present 

exactly tlie size lie stamps on them wlien, 
later, tlie gloves are cut out by means of steel 
dies. In doing tMs, the cutter uses paste- 
hoard patterns, to he sure; hut these are 
simply guides to enahle him to put exactly the 
right amount of leather into each piece that 
he cuts, in order to produce the size desired. 
To the cutter each skin he takes up becomes 
a new problem. As no tv^o faces are alike, so 
also no two skins are alike — not even those 
of the same class. 

The cutter first stretches the skin care- 
fully to ascertain or measure its elasticity. 
Then he applies his pattern to see how he 
can get the best results quantitatively. In 
other words, a cutter must exercise the 
utmost ingenuity to get as many gloves as 
possible out of the skins he is working on, 
and not let any of the leather go to waste. 
In many glove factories, the foreman "taxes" 
the skins as they are given out to the cutters ; 
that is, he fixes the number of pairs of gloves 
the cutter must turn out for a certain quan- 
tity of skins. After the cutter has stretched, 
pulled, measured, and finally cut out his 
oblong piece of leather, he marks the size on 
it and lays it aside for the calibres, which 
will be shown in operation later on. 

The skilled cutter's work is done, and the 
pieces of leather he has cut are called tranks. 
The cutter must know, of course, whether the 
tranks he is producing are for over-seam, 
pique or prick-seam gloves, as each requires 
a different pattern. The fragments of leather 
left from the skins after the tranks are cut 
are used as far as possible for cutting hems, 
bindings, fourchettes and "hearts," which 



The Gloves We Buy 105 

latter is the teclinical name for the little 
"stay" at the bottom of the wrist opening. 
And certainly there is very little of the skin 
which is not utilized after all these items are 
subtracted. One would hardly realize what a 
jig-saw puzzle, and in how many intricately 
fitting parts, a glove actually is, until he 
paused to examine one and to count the dif- 
ferent sections which must be shaped and 
cut out to go into its making. 

Next, the calibres demand out attention. 
These are the knives which really cut the 
tranks into the shape of gloves and might, 
perhajDS, be called dies. They run, of course, 
in sizes ; and the process might be likened to 
the old-fashioned way of cutting cakes out 
of dough with a tin cover, except that in 
stamping out gloves the position is reversed. 
The calibre is locked into a heavy machine 
with the sharp steel knife-edges up, and the 
tranks laid on top. A lever is pulled, a heavy 
weight descends, and the cut gloves are then 
ready to sew. 

Calibres are by no means uniform. That 
is to say, all manufacturers do not use the 
same kind; and among the leading, large 
manufacturers, each has his own cut, or set 
of calibres, differing from all others in some 
one or more points. For example, one manu- 
facturer will have the fingers of his gloves 
made longer or shorter than the average; 
another will have all the fingers gussetted, 
while another will have no gussets, not even 
at the gore of the thumb. Still another has 
a cut with a specially short little finger — 
and so on. This results in a very wide 
variety of "cuts" in gloves, and each manu- 



106 Gloves, Past and Present 

facturer of standard make is satisfied, and 
thinks Ms own is the best. It is the dis- 
criminating woman who finds out what cut 
or make fits her particular hand, and then 
sticks to that manufacturer's gloves. 

Gloves are sewed in three different waj^s. 
First, the two edges are brought together 
and sewed over and over. This is called over- 
seam, and sometimes round-seam, and is the 
method used on all fine, dressy gloves. A 
second way laps the edges one over the other 
and sews through and through. This is lap- 
seam, or pique, and is popular on gloves for 
street wear. Third, and last, the seams are 
brought together, the same as in overseam 
sewing, but are sewed through and through. 
This method is called prick-seam, and some- 
times sadlers sewn, and is used only on heavy 
leathers. 

The first machine invented for glove sew- 
ing was put on the market about forty-five 
years ago and did overseam work only. It 
was fought by many of the best manufac- 
turers who continued to make the boast of 
their hand-sewn gloves. Time has overcome 
this feeling, and the invention of pique and 
prick-seam sewing machines has done away 
with all handsewing — ^with the exception of 
a few sadlers sewn, made in England, and 
their quantity so small as to be negligible. 
Even the embroidery on the backs of gloves 
to-day is done almost entirely by machine. 
There are one or two styles still shown that 
are sewn by hand, called tambour. Tambour 
work is very handsome and cannot be done 
except by hand — yet; but the limit of ma- 
chines has bv no means been reached. 



Chapter X. 
GLOVES OF THE HOUK 

AN interesting modern development in 
^ glove making, and one which un- 
doubtedly has come to stay, is the vogue of 
the silk glove whose popularity has grown to 
surprising proportions. Oddly enough, the 
first gloves to be introduced into Europe for 
women in the thirteenth century were made 
of linen, and were of very simple design. 
These may be regarded as the ancestor of the 
chamoisette and cotton doeskins of our day; 
while the knitted silk, or "purled" hand cover- 
ings, worn by the early clergy, suggested 
perhaps the gloves of silk fabric so widely in 
favor for the last half century. Quaint lace 
"mitts" and gloves of spider-webby texture 
imparted to the costumes of our grand- 
mothers a charming femininity. But the 
practical silk glove as a substitution for kid 
is a comparatively recent achievement of 
manufacturers who are trying their best to 
meet the constantly multiplying new demands 
of modern men and women. 

The most hasty comparison of the earliest 
fabric gloves with those produced in our own 
times cannot fail to impress one with the 
tremendous strides the glove art has taken 
since it became a really modern industry. 
The silk and linen gloves of mediaeval days 
were loose and almost shapeless; they 
possessed neither fit nor individuality. 
Roughh^ measured to clothe the hands of a 
king, they might have been worn almost 
equally well by the lowliest of his subjects. 



108 Gloves, Past and Present 

They were bulky and awkward, concealing, 
rather than delineating, the character of the 
hands beneath. 

Gloves of leather and kid were first to 
acquire those traits of individuality which 
were made possible by Xavier Jouvin's inven- 
tion of an exact system of measurements, 
adapted to virtually every size and type of 
human hand. The perfection of fabric gloves, 
however, lagged behind. Even silk gloves 
were indifferently made, and could be had in 
only a very limited range of styles and sizes. 
As for cotton gloves, these were conspicuous 
for their ugliness and cheapness, up to within 
a very few years ago. And yet, to-day, we 
have velvety chamoisette and imitation doe- 
skins which, upon the hand of the wearer, are 
so deceptive that they readily are mistaken 
for the soft-finished leathers from which they 
have been named. These fabric gloves, made 
of white, yellow and many other colored 
textiles, woven especially for this purpose, 
are supple, snug fitting, and possess a style 
of their own. They retain their shape even 
with repeated washing, and they wear amaz- 
ingly w^ell. It cannot be disputed that they 
fill a long felt need in both the masculine 
and the feminine wardrobes. 

Particularly in warm weather the fabric 
glove, or the silk glove, almost puts out of 
business the leather glove, which seems heavy, 
overheating, unsanitary, and entirely out of 
keeping both with the light costume and the 
altered mood of the wearer. As summer 
approaches, we naturally long to have every- 
thing about our persons fresh, easily re- 
newable, dainty, light and cool to the touch. 



Gloves of the Hour 109 

Leather and kid repell us for ordinary wear. 
Only the finest and thinnest of Idd dress 
gloves find a favored place in the summer 
wardrobe ; while the fabric glove, in countless 
new guises, becomes increasingly popular 
with every successive season. Through June, 
July and August, fabric and silk are worn 
almost exclusively — and if the period be 
short, during these weeks at least the wash- 
able glove is without a rival. 

Just as the chamoisette, or cotton doeskin, 
provides an acceptable substitute for cape 
and lambskins for general wear, so the silk 
glove — the Italian or Milanaise — becomes 
the dress glove for summer and is appro- 
priate for all except the most formal occa- 
sions. The silk glove, indeed, has recently 
been brought to a very high state of perfec- 
tion through the growing skill of textile 
experts and inventors, and by the application 
of the best glove-cutting and sewing methods ; 
the latter, which have worked such changes 
in the style and fit of kid gloves, have done 
no less, proportionately, for the elevating of 
the silk glove. The soft, delicate, yet firm 
Milanaise silk fabric now clothes the hands 
as smoothly, and renders their shape as 
comely and as full of character, as the kid 
glove long has been wont to do. Indeed, it 
disguises the hand even less, and is a real 
test of shapely knuckles and tapering finger 
tips. Also, the glistening silk itself is pecu- 
liarly seductive, at the same time that it 
delights the wearer with its luxurious and 
cleanly contact. 

While kid gloves must be regarded as an 
art whose secrets are best known to the 



110 Gloves, Past and Present 

French, fabric, and particularly silk, gloves 
are manufactured with enviable success in 
our own country. Doubtless one of the most 
interesting glove mills to visit is a well- 
known factory located in the Alleghany 
industrial district of Pennsylvania, which, 
though occupying a comparatively small area, 
is wonderfully complete and efficient, and 
turns out by the latest approved methods a 
large output of high class Milanaise gloves. 
The president of this company, who is hands, 
feet and brains to his mill — also a practical 
inventor and a lover of machines — ^has made 
it possible, by courteous attention to every 
requirement of the trade, to place upon the 
market a superior product, and to win 
and hold the confidence of his business 
associates. 

A visit to this particular mill is doubly 
affording to the student of glove-making 
because here they weave and dye their own 
silk fabric. We are able to follow the 
process from a skein of raw silk to the finished 
glove in all its accuracy and beauty. Every 
step in its evolution is attended with ad- 
mirable carefulness and despatch — the glove 
emerging almost miraculously from the crude 
material as it is passed swiftly from one 
operator to another, each worker contribut- 
ing one factor more to its final perfection. 

The silk strand arrives "in the raw" from 
Japan, packed in straw bales, and might 
easily be mistaken for a shipment of tea. In 
this state the silk resembles fine white hair 
or, even more closely, spun sugar. It is sent 
in quantities, as needed, to the spinners, and 
on its return is put through a boiling 



Gloves of the Hour 111 

process to remove a gummy substance 
inherent in tlie crude product. 

The strand is now ready to make the 
acquaintance of the machines. First of all, 
it must be wound by machinery upon spools. 
This process is known, simply, as the wind- 
ing process. The neatly, evenly wound silk is 
then conveniently fed from the spools onto 
other machines which transform it into the 
warp or foundation for the silk fabric. These 
warps vary greatly in width — some being 
like ribbons, measuring about six inches 
across, others measuring 144 and even 168 
inches. They are delicate webs of shining 
silk with the threads running in a single 
direction — ^vertically, to be exact. 

Weaving machines next receive the warped 
silk. Each of these machines is equipped 
with four thousand needles, or twenty-eight 
needles to every inch, which knit up the 
silken w^eb into cloth. As fast as woven, it 
is dropped and rolled upon a long cylinder; 
it is very soft and satiny and astonishingly 
resembles a mass of molasses candy which 
has been "pulled" until it is snowy white and 
of glistening smoothness. It is now ready to 
be dyed. The dyeing is one of the few 
primitive steps retained in the entire process. 
This operation is performed by hand, and 
the material is lifted and worked on long 
sticks to ensure evenness of color. 'No 
machine is capable of giving such satisfac- 
tory results. 

The final step in preparing the fabric, 
however — the dressing or finishing — is done 
by means of an elaborate machine, consisttug 
of sets of copper cylinders or rollers. The 



112 Gloves, Past and Present 

wet, freshly dyed silk clotli is brouglit to tlie 
dressing machine a hopeless looking mass of 
soppiness and wrinkles. It is rolled upon a 
large cylinder which passes it on to one 
smaller in diameter, which, in turn, feeds it 
off onto a rectangular frame provided with 
rows of sharp points, like pin points, on both 
edges. Between these points the silk is 
stretched as tight as the inflated skin of a 
balloon. The frame bearing the taut silk is 
then carried through a long, narrow, heated 
tent, some twelve feet in extent. It emerges 
at the opposite end, thoroughly pressed, 
smooth and finished, and is again rolled on 
cjdinders with layers of paper between the 
breadths of the silk, in case the fabric may 
still be a trifle damp, in order to ensure the 
perfection of the silk. 

The Milanaise or Italian silk is now ready 
for the glove makers. First it passes into the 
hands of the cutters, who block out and cut 
by means of dies pieces of silk of the right 
size for each glove. These dies vary accord- 
ing to the many different sizes of gloves. 
Another set of cutters takes these pieces and 
places them in punches which mechanically 
cut out the shapes of the fingers and the rein- 
forcements for the tips of the first three 
fingers. These reinforcements hang onto the 
ends of the fingers. Still other cutters cut 
out gussets, fourchettes and thumbs from 
scraps of the silk cloth, to be fitted into the 
glove when it is sewn together later. In this 
way every morsel of the silk is utilized. 

Before the gloves at this stage are handed 
over to the sewers they are stamped in a 
press with the name of the company which 



Gloves of the Hour 113 

has ordered them for its trade. Aluminum 
leaf is used in this process, and silver letter- 
ing is the result. 

Women seated at sewing machines now 
receive the cut, marked gloves, and the first 
step toward joining their many parts con- 
sists in stitching the reinforcements onto the 
ends of the fingers. This, of course, gives 
the double finger tip and is a protection 
against wear. The backs of the gloves next 
are finished with fancy embroidery stitcher}^ 
In the simplest and cheapest gloves this is 
accomplished by a single operation. But as 
gloves rise in quality and price, the em- 
broidered backs become more elaborate. 

The thumbs now are stitched together 
individually and then are put into the glove 
itself. The next set of sewers stitch in the 
fourchettes — or sections forming the sides of 
the fingers — seam up all the fingers, and close 
up the long seam running from end to end of 
the glove. Passing into other hands, the 
openings at the wrists are skilfully bound 
and stiffened, or faced. Trimmers clip off all 
superfluous silk in the seams and turn the 
gloves right side out on wooden sticks. The 
wrists are then neatly hemmed. Clasps of 
metal, pearl, or covered with the silk, are 
stamped into the wrist facings by machinery 
— and the glove is ready for the examiner. 

This is one of the most important steps in 
the whole process. It guarantees the perfect 
condition of every pair of gloves which leaves 
this factory, and ensures the merchant and 
his customer against any possibility of fraud 
in handling or buying the output of this 
company. The finished glove is turned on a 



114 Gloves, Past and Present 

stick resembling tlie glove stretcher com- 
monly used at the counter; every seam and 
crevice is carefully tested and scrutinized. If 
no flaw is discovered the glove is pronounced 
ready for the packing room. 

In order that the goods may present the 
finest appearance possible and that it may 
be restored to perfect freshness and shapeli- 
ness after passing through so many hands in 
the making, the gloves are placed on v^ooden 
forms in the packing room and enclosed in a 
heated box for from six to seven minutes. 
They are then taken out, slipped off the forms, 
and given to operators who stitch them 
together in pairs, label and tie them, and 
pack them in pasteboard boxes according to 
size and color. The finished glove is now 
ready to be placed on sale, and is fit to 
tempt the most discriminating customer of 
either sex. 

But while the silk glove of recent years 
has become a truly progressive industry, let 
it not be imagined that the kid glove to-day 
is resting upon its laurels — great as its his- 
torical prestige certainly is! The methods 
of kid glove manufacture are being tirelessly 
improved upon; the product itself is of finer 
grade than ever before, it presents greater 
variety, it is all the time more cleverly 
adapted to modern uses. But only the 
designer of new styles in this important phase 
of apparel can fully appreciate the possibili- 
ties of the glove art as they open before him 
at the present hour. 

The designer of French kid gloves, it goes 
without saying, is an artist. He may not be 
a Frenchman, however. It is a mistake to 



Gloves of the Hour 115 

suppose that all the originality and all the 
inspiration to create a beautiful article of 
dress, acceptable to the fastidious of every 
land, must be of French origin. French 
influence, to be sure, plays an invaluable part 
in the education of such artists; but an 
American, with long training in the glove 
business, may have both the taste and the 
talent to invent glove masterpieces which 
will be eagerly adopted, not only in New York, 
but also in Paris. A few American experts 
actually have accomplished this thing, and 
their work is not to be lightly mentioned and 
passed over. It deserves our very special 
attention. 

An artist who designs kid gloves, first of 
all has the feeling for gloves as gloves. His 
object is to originate something beautiful in 
glove form. Next, he knows the technique of 
glove-making from A to Z, just as the painter 
knows his pigments, the laws of color and of 
drawing. The glove designer realizes the 
physical limitations of his art, and equally 
he divines the developments of which that art 
is susceptible. He is thoroughly familiar 
with the materials at his disposal, with the 
machines and the skilled workers he must 
employ to execute his ideas. 

At the same time, he has to be something 
of a journalist ; he must keep his finger on the 
public pulse, and be able to prophesy what 
styles men, and especially women, will take 
kindly to wearing a season hence. Gloves, 
like everything else in dress, must satisfy the 
demands of fashion. They must change 
because life itself is change. They must 
adapt themselves to the costumes the shops 



116 Gloves, Past and Present 

are showing, to tlie mode of tlie hour, the 
latest conception of smartness and good taste. 

In the hands of the designer of practical 
experience, who is also an artist, this becomes 
possible. Yet, to most people, gloves would 
appear a very limited field for the expres- 
sion of originality! Examine, then, some of 
the new designs for this year and season. 
They will answer the question whether so 
simple and necessarily uniform an article as 
the modern glove is capable of much artistic 
variation, and from them also we can learn 
how such novelties are evolved. 

Every large glove company has its own 
classical models — that is, there are certain 
standard styles of kid gloves of the best 
manufacture which virtuall}^ do not change 
from season to season. These have names, 
which are as well known in the glove trade 
as the names of real laces, of old, established 
design, to exporters and importers of that 
delightful commodity. For instance, in a 
famous glove shop on Fifth Avenue, New 
York, we are introduced to three classical 
styles — the Florine, the Seville and the Isere. 
These are all fine French gloves, of a cut 
and finish familiar to many of us. They are 
the foundation of all the other styles, 
which are simply clever variations of these 
three. 

For example, the Florine, a simple, over- 
seam glove, acquires a one-inch cuff of a con- 
trasting color — and with it the romantic title 
of Bandallette. Many beautiful color com- 
binations may be seen in the new Bandallette 
— alabaster with a brown cuff, canary with 
white, gunmetal with pale grey. 



Gloves of the Hour 117 

The Seville is clistinguislied by its crochet- 
embroidered backs, affording a miicli heavier 
finish than the stitching which decorates the 
Florine and the Isere. A deeply fringed cuff 
of kid is added — and lo, the Spanish cavalier 
becomes a knight of quite another cycle! 
Hiawatha, this picturesquely slashed glove 
of purely American inspiration is called — 
most reminiscent of the fringed decorations 
of aboriginal chieftains is the odd device 
which gives it its new-world Mzarrerie and 
flavor. It is especially striking in pure white 
and black. 

On the other hand, a two-inch cuff sport- 
ing large diamonds of white kid set in a black 
border — or the colors may be reversed — is 
known as the Van Dyck, and doubtless has 
caught something of the character of early 
Flemish design. The Van Metor may be 
mentioned as similar. This is a particularly 
beautiful glove when made in white kid, 
stitched with black, and adorned with white 
cuffs, scalloped or pinked, and appliqued 
with black kid cut in deep, sharp points which 
taper upward. 

The Isere is especially adapted for varia- 
tions of a dainty, delicate character. While 
the Seville lends itself best to two-toned 
embroidery in handsome, heavy effects, on 
the backs, the Isere is displaying just now on 
a white kid model rows of fine, black feather 
stitching between slender lines of plain 
stitching. 

Another distinguished glove, the work of 
the same expert designer, is the Fielder, 
vaguely reminiscent of an old English hunt- 
ing glove. In black, with a very long wrist. 



118 Gloves, Past and Present 

the striking feature of the Fielder is the deep, 
fan-shaped piece of white set into the wrist 
on the under side; it also fastens with a 
cleverly adjusted strap, clasped with a white 
pearl fastener. This is a very dashing glove. 

A black glace with white stitching has a 
fancy embroidered design on the back which 
gives to it its title of Dagger. The dagger 
is delightfully managed in conventionalized 
form, and reminds one of the adornments on 
crested gloves of ancient days. 

Nothing could be more exquisite than the 
new gloves embroidered with bow-knots. If 
they are black, the bow-knots are in white; 
if white, the graceful design is embroidered 
in black. Either effect is charming; but the 
white gloves seem redolent of old valentine 
customs, when the true lovers' knot might 
well have appeared upon a perfumed pair of 
dainty gift gloves such as these. The wrists 
also are parti-colored, gaily striped in white 
and black, like Pierrette. 

A very long-wristed, modish glove is the 
Garnett, in white kid, with four black straps 
confining the fulness of the flaring cuff which 
is lined with black, and all the stitching black. 
Indeed, while delicate tints are seen in many 
of the novelties, the effectiveness of the new 
designs is best grasped in the black and white 
combinations. In any case, mere description 
gives little or no notion of the many interest- 
ing, beautiful styles which are appearing — 
nor of how much imagination and invention 
goes into the devising of these styles from 
season to season. 

There is a world of comfort, too, in the 
thought that while such artists as these con- 



Gloves of the Hour 119 

tinue to concern themselves with gloves as a 
thing of beauty — gloves for gloves' sake — ^we 
may rest assured that commercialism will not 
devour the more subtle distinctions of life. 
If such a trifle, let us say, as our gloves is 
being zealouly guarded and saved to the 
canons of good taste, certainly we may hope 
to retain a true sense of elegance, and our 
requirements in respect to the little niceties 
Avhich make up the general deportment of a 
people shall be continually elevated. 

If the foregoing description of the gloves 
of the hour may have seemed redundant, or 
of too ephemeral interest, to the reader, let 
him pause and reflect that, after all, we are 
ourselves makers of glove history ; and it may 
be that glove lovers of the future will be as 
grateful to find on record the gloves of our 
times, as we have been gratified to rediscover 
the glove annals of remote periods of human 
history. 



FINIS 



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