Red leather gloves presented to Egyptian official Ay. (6).
Tutankhamen died and amongst over twenty three pairs of gloves found are these beautifully embroidered linen gloves.It is thought they, or a similar pair, might have been used to drive a chariot or as general wear in the cool winter weather around Memphis. When Carter opened the tomb he only unfolded one of the gloves and left the other folded. It should be noted that glove was sewn with cut pieces of linen. This construction and the design is pretty much identical to how leather gloves are still made in the 21st century.
The French church laid down rules that said only senior clergy could wear gloves of deerskin, while the lower ranks had to wear sheepskins.
It is thought that in the U.K. the first coronation where gloves were used was in 973 AD in Bath when Edgar the Peaceful became King.
The Glovers of London, then loosely organised, provided 200 for the service of the King and to the £5000 lent to Edward III IN 1333.
The plague was carried to the UK on a ship from Gascony carrying British traders. It arrived in Weymouth, Dorset and the traders travelled to London over six months via Yeovil in Somerset and Bristol. By April 1949 we know that more than half the beneficed clergy had died in Somerset and that it taken a huge toll of all the citizens. Consequently the amount of arable farming decreased because of the shortage of labour and the numbers of sheep increased enormously. The skins provided raw material for gloves and stimulated the growth of lovemaking in Yeovil and its surrounds.
The ordinances for the Guild of Glovers in London were made. Joined with the Pursers in 1498 and then in 1502 the Glovers company merged with the Leathersellers, but they separated later and the Glovers Company were granted a Charter (Letters Patent) from King Charles I in 1638. (16, 2).
We know that a glove industry already existed in Yeovil as in the main churchyard their was an argument over the stall arrangements two skinners, two tanners and two glovers (Hugh and Philip) were called out by the Bishop’s Registrar as “sons of perdition forming the community of the said town” of Yeovil. (see blog “getting through the plague”)
A ban was placed on importing gloves into UK which was not fully removed until 1826. There were a lot of breaches of this rule, especially by the rich and famous.
Queen Elizabeth I became Queen in November 1558 and was to accelerate the wearing and manufacture of gloves throughout the UK. Gauntlet styles heavy with beautiful embroidery and perfumed gloves were of major importance. The picture below shows her with simple gloves, and those were mostly worn every day, with the heavily adorned gauntlet styles used for gifts, for display, and probably for court events.
In his 1545 portrait, dated 1544 as this was the date of marriage and admission to the Mercers Livery in London, Thomas Gresham, who was later to build the Royal Exchange, holds a pair of exquisite Spanish gloves. Antwerp where he traded and had a house was then the centre for luxury purchases in the North of Europe. He also had direct access to Spain with an office there also. The religious wars in the Low Countries and his determination that that the British Crown should borrow in the City of London rather than be indebted to European bankers meant that steadily London surpassed Antwerp. Also many skilled craftspeople, including glovers, embroiderers etc fled to the UK expand the skills in glove manufacture.
John Shakespeare, the father of William Shakespeare was a “whittaner” – a worker of kid, dog and deerskin. At the family home in Stratford on Avon, a room is dedicated to showing the work he did in it to tan leather and make gloves. Nearby Woodstock was a centre of glove making, on account of the plentiful supply of deerskins. Shakespeare was himself born in 1564. His father who was a tanner and wool merchant was also sometimes money-lender. The year 1570 is memorable as in this year he was charged with lending money at illegally high rates. He also got into trouble for selling wool which glove makers were not supposed to do. He was however Mayor and he got Shakespeare a great schooling, well worth a visit to Stratford.
Sheldon set out arrangements in his will to establish Sheldon Tapestry. He imported an expert from Flanders and two of his houses were given over to studios. They made a famous map of Worcester which is in the Bodleian but their every day income was from the production of cushions and gloves. For gloves they provided the large gauntlet pieces.
French Glovers were named for the first time in the list of foreigners – strangers – published in London, as new skills in glove production and craft came to the UK
Glovers Company were granted a Charter (Letters Patent) from King Charles I in 1638 after some strong lobbying by Lady Mary Killigrew. This allowed the Glovers to separate from the Leathersellers and re-establish their independent Guild. Women were allowed full membership, and there were quite a number of female apprentices and Liverymen in subsequent years. It took until 1647 for Leathersellers to agree with the Court of Alderman that this was a done deal – “a reconciliation and agreement of the cause of difference” – and until 1680 for the Alderman to agree to a full grant of livery allowing the Glovers Livery to be worn, and Liverymen and women to vote for the Mayor. The bye laws, or ordinances, were set out in full in an entry dated 22nd March, 1681.
The Glovers of London established their Hall in Beech Lane, Cripplegate. Minute books between 1679 and 1773 have been lost, but by 1773 the Hall had been sold and the Court of Assistants met in the George and Vulture Tavern, Cornhill.
Igualada’s tanners Guild was set up, made up of the tanners, the curriers, the glove and the belt makers.
The Glovers of Worcester (England) stated that their employees were “decrepit and unfit for any other employment” (Commons Journals, XII, 16).
Sir William Johnson brought 60 tanners and glovemakers to the Gloversville area of New York State from Perth in Scotland. Gloversville was called Stump City at that time and was changed to Gloversville later.
John Fownes, born in Hanbury in 1754, opened Worcester Glove Factory
John Dent (1751-1811) set up in Worcester in the same year
The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the UK, William Pitt imposed a tax on gloves hoping it raise a lot of revenue. It was too easily avoided, or ignored. It was repealed in 1794.
James Winter of Stoke-sub-Hamdon, near Yeovil, invents the ‘gloving donkey to hold the glove and make stitching easier and straighter.
Hilts Willards gloves founded in Gloversville, upstate New York
Fownes Worcester factory moved to Battersea, London and in 1809 it was renamed as John Fownes and Sons of Tavistock Street, Covent Gardens.
Talmadge Edwards begins manufacture of leather gloves in Johnstown, NY. Johnstown is absolutely adjacent to Gloversville in upstate New York. About 6 hours drive from New York or 4-5 hours directly west along the Mass Pike, on which the Leather Area exits are signposted.
All import taxes on gloves removed and had an enormous impact on the domestic industry with a large number of factory closures.
A glove maker from Grenoble, France brought about a revolution in glove making. Xavier Jouvin invented a system which “consisted of the establishment of rational methods adapted to the different sizes of hands, thus enabling the maker to produce exact fitting gloves. The scissors were replaced by the “main de fer” (iron hand), the proportions of which were carefully calculated for each size. From The Leather Trades Review, 11th August 1948. p 287.
With the invention of basic sewing machines Dents introduced “mechanical sewing”
Fownes and Sons renamed as Fownes Bros. of Cheapside and then in 1856 Fownes Brothers and Co.
The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, began to wear long sleeved gloves that she felt improved the look of her arms. The style was known as the “mousquetaire”. She took the style to the USA and miusquetaire gloves have been famous ever since.
New Fownes factory was opened in Battersea
Fownes started building factory in Worcester. Building took 3 years. I believe production ended in 1973, and in the late 1980s or early 1990s it was changed into a hotel. I remember obtaining a prospectus and taking it to New York to show Tom Gluckman at Fownes Bros there. There was little interest in investing.
Booth and Company purchase Messrs Kent and Stevens In Gloversville, New York, exploiting John Kent’s invention of the Dongola tannage on Ceara goatskins (shipped from Brazil by the Booth Line) and kangaroo. Extended details of the tannage are contained in the glossary section. Kent had died while on holiday in Atlanta and his wife asked Booths to buy his 50% share.
Causse Gantier founded in Millau, France.
Having set up an office in New York in 1887, Fownes Brothers established manufacturing facilities in Gloversville and Amsterdam, upstate New York. Some of it was later shifted to the Caribbean but eventually settled in Asia.
Glove cutters strike for more pay in Gloversville, New York. This created the move to go offshore which is so much talked about in the second half of the 20th century. For the US glove industry it began fifty years earlier. It had a big stopping moment in the Philippines, where Fownes (USA) and Arts had huge plants when I first visited (6000 and 12000 workers respectively) and then got moved to China, Vietnam, Indonesia and India.
The process of homeworking came to an end in the US Glove Industry, after about 100 years. Homework continues in the UK, Germany, and on Shikoko island in Japan on a small scale into the 21st century.
Burfields and Company founded in Martock, Somerset by Mr Norman Burfield, the first of three generations who ran this business.
The coronation of Queen Elizabeth maintains the long tradition of involving beautiful gloves in the ceremony.
Fownes Bros (USA) open factory in the Philippines
Alwyn Gloves established in Crown East in Worcester, by Les Winfield. He made gloves for Prince Philip and Margaret Thatcher and was for many years the main supplier to the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London for the gloves they gave to guests at Company lunches and other events.
Fownes Bros (USA) open factory in Xiamen, China and subsequently established an office in Shanghai in 2002.
American Pastoral by Philip Roth published. Fairly accurate and very evocative history of American glove production and history. Moves Gloversville to Newark. Readers will find two blogs mention it (search for Roth in categories).
Dents relocate to a new facility in Warminster. The new state of the art warehousing facility recognises that most Dents gloves are now imported but it does retain a significant manufacturing facility making their long established designs, and retaining the skills.
They also have a superb glove museum, established at the end of the 19th century mostly as a marketing tool. It as accessible by making a call to the company.
Causse Gantier in Millau, France purchased by Chanel
Les Winfield of Alwyn Gloves, Worcester, died in November 2015 and the company closed.
The Burfield factory in Martock closed. See Martock History for an interesting article on Burfield written in 2010 but with small updates.