These gloves are Victorian-era, with a map of London.
Gloves went from protection while gardening during the Greco-Roman era, to serving as proxy for kings during the Middle Ages. A king’s glove could be carried by a messenger as a sign of good faith, or it could guarantee safe passage if a traveller carried a glove. French kings on their deathbeds would give their gloves to their heirs, and English coronations, any friend to the kind would hurl his glove at the ground a challenge to anyone who dared oppose the monarch to be (hence “throwing down the gauntlet”). To strike a Medieval knight with one’s glove was in an invitation to duel and when the time and place was chosen, gloves would be exchanged as promise to return.
Gloves also became a part of any good woman’s wardrobe. A Medieval lover would give his gloves to his mistress during a formal betrothal ceremony, and when women gave a glove, it was proof of her favour.
Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, wore her bejewelled glove folded and set on his helmet, whilst another devotee tied the Queen’s gloves to his arm, over the armour and tied with a silver ribbon.
By this time, gloves were hoarded and traded by the aristocracy. In 1599, as a ‘pre-wedding’ gift, Prince Philip II of Spain gave his soon to be bride, the Archduchess Margaret, two hundred pairs of gloves.
The choice in gloves was astounding, ladies’ gloves were perfumed with musk, or ambergris, embroidered, decorated with jewelled buttons, and some had slits at the knuckles so a lady could show off her rings.
Gloves made of soft chicken-skin came into fashion in the 17th century, as well as Limerick gloves from Limerick Ireland. Those gloves were made from the skin of foetal calves. If you did not have the money, it would be easy to purchase gloves pieced together from rat, mouse, dog or kid skin. The finest gloves could be easily packed into a nutshell.
Women of the Rococo era wore gloves while eating, playing the harp or clavier and often changed gloves up to five times a day.
But gloves were always removed to shake hands with friends, to show the warm bond between friends.
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