These gloves were found on a recent trip to a local thrift shop. They carry only an inside tag identifying the lining as 100% silk and giving a WPL number that corresponds to Crescendoe Glove Co. The gloves appear unused and were in their original plastic sleeve.
They are made of fine, thin, cream colored leather with hand crocheted detail. The size is not marked but they measure 6.25″ around the palm and would be a size 6 or Small. They are 10.5″ long. When worn they would cover about half way up the forearm. The material is Crescendoe’s special washable leather. This pair of gloves is as supple and wearable as the day they were made.
WPL numbers were changed over to RN numbers starting in 1959. These gloves can be dated to that year because of the confusing use of an RN number for a WPL number. The last WPL number issued was 13669 in 1959. For some reason Crescendoe used this odd label. I suspect it was a temporary problem, probably fixed within a few months. Because the gloves appear very clean, unstretched, and still contain this lightly applied label, I believe they are unworn.
Crescendoe Gloves were a division or brand name of Superb Gloves, both companies being located in Johnstown, NY. Superb registered the Crescendoe name in 1942. Johnstown and nearby Gloversville once formed a center for glovemaking in the US. The area had many tanneries.
In the 1800s glovemaking became a cottage industry in this region. The leather was processed and cut out in factories by men and the gloves were sewn together in homes by women. By the early 1900s, glove stitching also moved to the factories. A booming industry grew up in the area and continued into the final quarter of the last century. As fashion moved away from the daily wearing of ladies gloves, the industry died. Just a few glove manufacturers remain.
Crescendoe was a very popular brand from the 1940s into the 1970s. The wearing of fine, dressy gloves when going out was de rigueur for a fashion conscious woman. The right glove “made” a lady’s outfit, especially for evening. The use of gloves was also good hygiene and it protected hands from the weathering effects of sun, cold and wind. I bet chapped hands were less of a problem when glove wearing was common place.
Crescendoe ran a very successful advertising campaign in fashion magazines. This illustration from 1954 by Rene Gruau highlights the attractiveness of the gloves. The company touted their product’s ability to slim the hands. Gruau was a famous fashion artist of the time. Use of his artwork represented an impressive investment by the company. Rene Gruau’s work can be found in museums today and he is acknowledged as a major contributor to haute couture.
The significance of small discoveries in thrift shops, at yard sales, auctions and secondhand shops always amazes me. This pair of gloves was lost, jumbled amid a motley collection of worn-out hats, gaudy scarves, old hosiery and cheap fake-leather wallets in a bin. I knew when I saw them that they were something special and I was right. The gloves are listed in my eBay Phoenix Farm shop.