With the preparation of kid leather alum is the astringent curative agent. Its operation is accompanied by that of others whose purpose is to secure elasticity and pliability, and mainly to preserve that beautiful texture which makes kid leather superior to all others. These assistants in the process are eggs, flour, and salt. They are combined into what is called a custard. A proper quantity of the custard and a number of skins having been put together in a dash wheel, where they are thrown about for some time, the open pores of the skin absorb the custard freely, and become swelled by the chemical union of the custard and the skin. In trade parlance this swelling is known as "plumping." This having progressed satisfactorily, the skins are folded together with the fleshy side outward, and are dried by a gentle heat.

They are now cured, but they are yet hard and rough. Another objectionable feature is that they are of unequal thickness. Breaking and staking, as they are called, are now resorted to, to make the skins soft, pliable, and of even texture, removing the superfluous chemicals with which they become charged, and the stiffness by manipulating the fibers. Much trained skill and dexterity, especially in knee and arm staking, are required in the stretching, which is the essential feature of these operations. Breaking is first resorted to. The break beam, which is armed at each end with a knife edge, oscillates up and down. In a frame beneath it the operator stretches the dried and stiff skin. The break beam comes down upon the skin, stretches and softens it, and removes much surplus custard. The operator presents a new surface to each stroke of the break beam, and in a very short space of time the entire skin is rendered soft and pliable.

Further manipulation upon the arm or knee stake - of which a dull, semicircular knife blade, supported upon a suitable standard upon the floor or upon a beam about opposite the worker's elbow is the main feature - is required. The skin must be drawn across this knife blade with a considerable application of force so as to reduce the unduly thick parts, stretch the skin and secure a uniform thickness suitable for gloves. Much dexterity, especially in the case of fine skins, is required in this operation to avoid cutting or tearing. The operator places the fleshy side of the skin over the knife, grasps the two ends of the skin, and placing his knee upon it and slowly drawing the skin across the knife edge, he brings his weight to bear upon it. If the operator is skilled and experienced the skin yields quickly, when needed, to the strain applied and a uniform texture is secured. The operation of transforming the skin into leather is now finished, but age is necessary to secure perfect pliability and softness.

The skins are, therefore, laid away to let the slow chemical operation going on within them be completed.

The visitor can now watch the further processes of manufacture by visiting the dye rooms. Skins which have already been aged are immersed in dye vats, where the delicate colors are imparted to them. The same care is not required in obtaining the ordinary range of dark colors, for these are "brushed" on, the skin being spread upon a glass slab and the dye being painted on with a brush. After they are dyed the skins are sometimes somewhat hard, and in some classes have to be staked again in order to restore their pliability. The finishing touches to a kid skin are secured by rubbing the grain side over with a size, which imparts a gloss. The experience of Gloversville manufacturers with "buck" gloves has enabled them to impart a special finish to a skin which is very popular under the title of "Mocha." This is the same as suede finish, which is produced in other countries by shaving off the grain side of the skin at an early stage of its progress. The Gloversville method is much better, however, and has more perfect results. Here the grain is removed, and the velvet finish secured by buffing the surface on an emery wheel.

The surface of the leather is cut away in minute particles by this process, and the result is an exceedingly even and velvety texture, superior to that obtained by other methods. European manufacturers do not approach the Americans in this respect.

The leathermaker leaves off and the glovemaker begins.

A marble slab lies before the cutter on a table, and every particle of dirt or other inequality is removed before "doling." The skin is spread, flesh side up, upon the slab, and the cutter goes over it with a broad bladed chisel or knife, shaving down inequalities and removing all the porous portions. The dexterity with which this is done makes the operation appear extremely simple, but any but a skilled and experienced operative would almost surely cut through the skin. The most delicate part of the glovemaker's art, in which exact judgment is required, comes in preparing the "tranks" or slips, from which the separate gloves are cut. The trank must be so cut as to have just enough leather to make a glove of a certain size and number. The operation would be easy enough if the material were hard and stiff, and if the elasticity were uniform, but this is rarely the case.

To accomplish this operation the trank must be firmly stretched in one direction, and while so stretched a "redell" stamps the proper dimensions in the other direction, to which the leather is trimmed. Upon the nicety with which this operation is performed depends the question of whether the finished glove will stretch evenly or too much or too little in one direction or the other. After this the trank or outline of the glove must be cut out. In olden times of glove manufacture an outline was traced upon the leather and the pattern was cut with shears. Modern invention has produced dies and presses which are universally used. The steel die has the outline of a double glove, including the opening for the thumb piece. The die rests upon the bed of the press. Several tranks are laid upon it, the lever is drawn, and in a moment the blanks are cut out clean and smooth. The gussets, facings, etc., are cut from the waste leather in the thumb opening at the same operation. Similar dies are used in the cutting of the thumb pieces and fourchettes or strips forming the sides of the fingers.

The pieces now go to the great sewing rooms of the factory, where are long rows of busy sewing girls. If the manufacturer of years ago could revisit the scenes of his earthly toil, and wander through the sewing rooms of a modern factory, he would doubtless be greatly amazed at the sight presented there. In his day such a thing was unknown. The glove was then held in position by a hand clamp, while the sewing girl pushed the needle in and out, making an overseam. All this is done now in an infinitely more rapid manner by machine, and with resulting seams that are more regular and strong than those made by the hand sewer. The overseam sewers earn large wages, and their places are much coveted. Overlapping seams are produced on the pique machine, which is a most ingenious mechanism. The essential feature of this machine is a long steel finger with a shuttle and bobbin working within, and the finger of the glove is drawn upon this steel finger, permitting the seam to be sewn through and through. The visitor to the factory can see also the minor operations of embroidering, lining - in finished gloves - sewing the facing, sewing the buttonholes, putting on the buttons, and trimming with various kinds of thread. Before the gloves are ready for the boxes one more operation remains.

The gloves are somewhat unsightly as they come from the sewers' hands, and must be made trim and neat. To secure these desirable results the gloves are taken to the "laying-off" room.

In this are long tables with a long row of brass hands projecting at an acute angle. These are filled with steam and are too hot to touch. These steam tables by ingenious devices are so arranged that it is impossible to burn the glove or stiffen the leather by too much heat, a common defect in ordinary methods. The operation of the "laying-off" room is finished with surprising quickness. Before each table stands an operator, who slips a glove over each frame, draws it down to shape, and after a moment's exposure to the warmth removes it, smooth, shapely, and ready for the box. The frames upon which the gloves are drawn are long and narrow for fine gloves and short and stubby for common ones. Then the glove is taken to the stock room, where there are endless shelves and bins to testify to the chief drawback to glove making, the necessity for innumerable patterns. - The Mercer.