glove, hand covering with a separate sheath for each finger. The earliest gloves, relics of the cave dwellers, closely resembled bags. Reaching to the elbow, they were most probably worn solely for protection and warmth. Although there is some indication of the use of separate fingers in an Egyptian relic, most early gloves were much like mittens, usually of skin with the fur inside. The glove as we know it today dates from the 11th cent. In England after the Norman conquest, gloves, richly jeweled and ornamented, were worn as a badge of distinction by royalty and by church dignitaries. The glove became meaningful as a token; it became custom to fling a gauntlet, the symbol of honor, at the feet of an adversary, thereby challenging his integrity and inviting satisfaction by duel. In the 12th cent. gloves became a definite part of fashionable dress, and ladies began to wear them; the sport of falconry also increased their use. In the 13th cent. the metal gauntlet appeared as a part of armor. Gloves became accessible to the common people, and their popularity grew. Scented gloves, an innovation that was to last until the 18th cent., came into vogue. The 16th and 17th cent. saw extravagantly ornamented gloves; they were of leather, linen, silk, or lace and were jeweled, embroidered, or fringed. After the 17th cent. the emphasis was on proper fit, and gloves were less ornamental. The first known glove maker was in Perth, Scotland, after 1165; a guild of glove makers was incorporated in France in 1190, and one in London c.1600. In the United States, glove making began in 1760 when a settlement of Scottish glovers was established at Gloversville, N.Y.; New York state has since been the center of the glove industry in the United States. Modern gloves are made of fabric, plain or knitted; of leather from almost every variety of animal hide; and of rubber and plastic used in surgical, laboratory, and household work.
See C. C. Collins, Love of a Glove (1945).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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