Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Gloves. The use of gloves as a protection to the hands dates from a very early period. We are told in the Odyssey that Laertes wore them when working among the thorns. Xenophon ridicules the Persians because they used them in cold weather, and up to a late period they were regarded as an effeminate luxury by the austere Romans. Passing to the Middle Ages, mention is made in the life of St. Columban, written in the 7th century, of their use in manual labour. In the 12th century they became an article of ecclesiastical apparel, and two centuries later they were much worn by the upper classes in England. The London gild of glovers received a charter in 1464. In Eastern countries the gift of a glove was from a remote period the symbol of a transfer of property, and this is probably the meaning of Ruth iv. 7 and Psalm cviii. 9, "shoe" being a mistranslation. In mediaeval times the casting of a glove on the ground was a challenge to single combat. Another symbolic use survives in the white gloves presented to a judge at the assizes when there are no cases for trial. Gloves are now made of many materials, including wool, silk, cotton, and leather. Leather gloves are generally known as "kid," and real kid skins are used for the finer kinds, but the greater number are made of lambskin. Sheep-skin is the ordinary material for dogskin, buckskin, and doeskin gloves, and calfskin is used for some of the thicker varieties. In some cases the skins are prepared by the ordinary method of tanning or shamoying, but those for "dress gloves" are subject to a special process called "tawing." This consists in applying a mixture of flour, yolk of eggs, and alum to the skins after they have been piled under the influence of heat, an operation which renders them very soft and flexible. When prepared, the skin is cut into separate pieces. These are folded, and an oblong slice is made in the fold at the point where the thumb-piece is to be attached. The fingers are produced by making three incisions in the doubled skin, and sewing them together with gussets on each side of the second and third fingers, and the inner side of the first and fourth. Diamond-shaped pieces are also added at the lower extremity of each finger. Sewing-machines are to some extent used, but most of the sewing is done by hand. The regularity of the stiches is sometimes secured by enclosing the pieces which have to be sewn together in a sort of vice with a serrated edge. The chief seat of the English glove industry is Worcester, where dog-skin gloves are manufactured from the tanned skins of Cape sheep. The English glove-makers are, however, far surpassed by the French, who manufacture large quantities at Paris and Grenoble. Many cheap and serviceable gloves are made at Copenhagen and Brussels. The manufacture of woven and knitted gloves is a perfectly distinct industry, mainly carried on in Saxony and at Berlin.