1902 Encyclopedia > Glove


GLOVE (Saxon glof), a covering for the hand, with a separate sheath for each finger. Among our ancestors, to throw down the glove or gauntlet was equivalent to a challenge to single combat, and the person thus defied signified his acceptance of the challenge by taking up the glove, and casting down his own,'—which ceremony was regarded as a mutual compact to meet at the time and place specified. This custom, according to Favyn (Theatre d'Honneur et de Ghevalerie), was derived from the Oriental mode of contracting sales of land and the like by giving the purchaser a glove, by way of delivery or investiture ; and to this effect he quotes Ruth iv. 7 and Psa. cviii. 9, passages where the word commonly translated " shoe " is by-some rendered "glove." Du Cange quotes from a charter of the 13th century an instance of re-investiture or restitution symbolized by the person depositing his glove on the earth. The use of gloves is of high antiquity. There is reason to believe the ancient Persians wore them, since it is mentioned in the Cyropasdia of Xenophon that on one occasion Cyrus went without his gloves; and we know that some kind of protecting coverings for the hands were used by the Greeks and Romans in certain kinds of manual labour, although their precise form is unknown.

The word gantus, used for a glove in mediaeval Latin, is obviously of Teutonic derivation. In the life of St Colum-banus, written by Jonas, abbot of Bobbio, in the 7th cen-tury, gloves for protecting the hands in manual labour are spoken of as "tegumenta manuum quae Galli wantos vocant." A pair of gloves are mentioned in the will of Bishop Ricul-fus, who died 915 A.D. Gloves did not become articles of ecclesiastical vestment till the 12th century. They do not appear in the Bayeux tapestry, and they did not come into general use in England till the 13th century. Matthew Paris, noticing the burial of Henry II. (1189), mentions that he was buried in his coronation robes, with a golden crown on his head and gloves on his hands. Gloves were also found on the hands of King John when his tomb was opened in 1797, and on the hands of Edward I. when his tomb was opened in 1774. In the 14th century they were in common use among the better classes. In the 16th century they were frequently embroidered with great elaboration, and in the reign of Charles II. the short sleeves of the ladies' dresses brought in long gloves reaching almost to the elbow. It is an old custom in England that a pair of gloves are given by the sheriff to the judge who presides at a maiden assize; and in Scotland white gloves are given to the judges on a maiden circuit,—-that is, when there are no cases for trial.

The manufacture of gloves was early introduced into the British Islands, and such was the dignity of the craft that, as early as the reign of King Robert III., the incorporation of glovers of Perth was chartered—a wealthy guild still existing, although the calling has long ceased to characterize that town. The glovers' company of London received its armorial bearings as early as 1464, but the body was not chartered till 1638 ; and in Worcester, which has long been the principal British centre of the trade, a company was incorporated in 1661.
The glove industry of the present day is both extensive and diversified, seeing that gloves are now almost universally worn, and made of various classes of material and in several different ways. Of yarn, thread, silk, and cloth gloves it is unnecessary to speak, as these varieties are, in comparison with leather gloves, of comparatively little importance. The leather employed by glovers is prepared from the skins of deer, sheep and lambs, goats and kids—_ the last being by far the most important. The skins are prepared either by the ordinary processes of shamoying for wash-leather and doe or buck leather gloves, or by a special method of tawing in the case of ordinary dress gloves. The kid-skins are principally collected by hawkers in the South European countries, and sold in the Leipsic and Naples fairs. The tawing industry is conducted on a great scale at Annonay, Paris, and Milhau in France. The tawing process differs from ordinary tanning in the greater care and cleanliness of all the operations, in the submission of the dressed skins to a brief fermentation by piling them under the influence of heat, which increases the soft-ness and flexibility of the leather, and in tawing with a mixture of flour, the yellow of eggs, and alum. On the completion of this operation, they are stretched by hand and dried as rapidly as possible. Thereafter they are damped, placed in dozens between linen cloths, and worked about to render them soft and pliable, after which they are planed on the flesh side, dried, and again planed. They are then polished by rubbing with a heavy glass disc or other smooth substance, and dyed by brushing liquid dyes over one side. Finally they are stretched on a marble table, and smoothed with a blunt knife. From a kid skin so prepared the materials of three gloves are obtained. The skins are moistened and stretched, and the various parts are cut out by a machine having steel punches the shape and size desired. The thumb piece, the quirks and the fourchettes inserted between the fingers, and the wrist welt—the latter frequently white—are cut out separately. Machine sewing, in which a kind of button stitch is made, is to a small ex-tent utilized in the manufacture of gloves ; but the greater part of the sewing is done by hand. The pieces to be sewn together are placed in a machine between a pair of jaws, the holding edge of which is composed of fine saw teeth, between each of which the sewer passes back and forward her needle, and in this way a neat uniform stitch is secured. There are three kinds of hand-sewing in the glove trade— round sewing or ordinary glove stitch, piqué stitch, and prick seam. After sewing, the backs are stitched or tam-boured, the button-hole is formed, the wrist attached, and the button sewed on, thus finishing the glove. After damp-ing and stretching to its utmost length, the glove is ready to be stamped and put up for use.

Paris is, beyond question, the most important centre of glove-making, and for delicacy of material and beauty of workmanship the productions of some Parisian manufacturers are without any rivals ; but it is at Grenoble that French gloves are most extensively manufactured. English gloves, of unfailing excellence of material and workmanship, are principally made at AVorcester ; and in one specialty-— " dogskin " gloves made from Cape sheep-skin, having a warm tan colour—English makers have no competitors. A very large quantity of cheap but useful gloves are made at Brussels and Copenhagen. During the year 1876,1,084,400 I dozen pairs, of a value of £1,380,884, were imported into the United Kingdom from France; from Belgium there were 301,305 dozen pairs, valued at £345,174; and the total imports from all quarters amounted to 1,497,437 dozen pairs, of a value of £1,840,956. In 1878 the total imports were 1,060,040 dozen pairs, valued at £1,302,060.
Buckskin gloves are largely made in the United States, and that branch, together with a limited production of kid and other gloves, is chiefly centred in the village of Gloversville, Fulton co., N.Y. It is estimated that from about 140 separate glove factories in that village not less than two-thirds of the gloves made in the United States are sent out. Kid gloves are made to some extent in New York city.

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