Glove making is almost a century old in this country, having been begun in the neighborhood of Gloversville and Johnstown, N.Y., about 1803. Until 1862 the manufacture of gloves in Fulton County, although even then the chief manufacturing industry, was of comparatively small importance. Gloversville and Johnstown were then quiet villages of from three to four thousand people. The flourishing establishments of to-day, or such of them as then existed, were small and comparatively unimportant. In 1862 the stimulating influence of a high protective tariff showed itself in the increased business at Gloversville, Johnstown, and the adjoining hamlet, Kingsboro. These became at once the leading sources of supply for the home market gloves of a medium grade. The quality of the product has steadily improved, and the variety has been increased, until now American-made gloves are steadily driving out the foreign gloves. The skill of American glovers is equal to that of foreign glove makers, and in some respects - notably in the quality of the stitching, and, in some grades, the shape - the American gloves are the best. Foreign expert workmen have been drawn over here from the great glove centers of Europe, so that the greatest skill has been secured here.

The annual value of the glove industry in Fulton County has reached about $7,000,000.

One hundred and seventy-five glove makers and 20,000 people in Fulton County draw their subsistence directly from glove making. Some of the firms have a business reaching from $100,000 to $500,000 yearly. The majority, however, have small shops, and do a small but profitable business. Most of the work in Fulton County, as abroad, is done at the homes of the workers. The streets of Gloversville and Johnstown are lined with pretty and tasteful homes, in which the hum of the sewing machine is constantly heard during the working hours of the day, but the workers are exceptionally fortunate in being able while earning good wages to enjoy all the comforts and surroundings of home, and in being practically their own masters and mistresses.

Before the leather can be cut and sewed into the handsome articles that are sold over the counters of the retail dry goods houses and furnishing goods stores as gloves, the skins from which they are made must be specially prepared. The two important points in this preparation are the removal of the albuminous portion of the skin and the retention and chemical changing of the gelatinous part, so that it shall become pliable, elastic, and resist decomposition.

There are various methods which produce these results, and they are technically known as tanning, alum dressing, oil dressing, and Indian dressing. Each method produces a leather distinctly different from that produced by any other. All the preliminary processes of these various methods are alike in principle, although they vary somewhat in detail. The object in all is to remove the hair from the hide, separate the fleshy and albuminous matter, and leave only the gelatinous, which alone is susceptible to the chemical action and can be transformed by it into leather.

When the skins are received in the factory they are thoroughly soaked to open out the texture and prepare them for the removal of the hair. Then the skins are placed in vats of lime water, where, for two or three weeks, the lime works into the flesh and albuminous matter, and loosens the hair. The skins having thus been properly softened, the dirty but picturesque operation of beaming for removing the hair ensues. Before each beamer, as the workman is called, is an inclined semi-cylindrical slab of wood covered with zinc. The skin is first spread upon this, and the broad, curved beam of the knife glides across it from end to end, scraping and removing all the loosened hair, the scarf skin, and the small portion of animal matter adhering to the skin.

After the unhairing, kid skins must be fermented in a drench of bran, whose purpose is to completely decompose the remaining albuminous matter, and also to remove all traces of the lime. The operation is extremely delicate. While the gelatine is not so sensitive to the decomposing action of the ferment, nevertheless great care is required to prevent overfermentation and resulting damage to the texture of the skin. It is impossible for even the most experienced to tell just how long the fermentation should continue. Sometimes the work is done in two or three hours, and sometimes it requires as many days. Incessant watchfulness both day and night is required to detect the critical moment. With the less delicate skins this bran bath is not necessary. Lime and acid solutions accomplish the same purpose. When the gelatine matter is all removed the skins are ready for the actual curative process.

Oil dressing or Indian dressing - which merely differ in application, but are founded upon the same principle - is the most simple method of curing skins. The principle of each is the soaking of the gelatine fibers of the skin with oil, the union of the latter and the gelatine appearing in the form of oxide, and resulting in the insoluble, undecomposable, pliant, and tough material known to the commercial world as leather. The first step in the oil dressing, after the skins have been duly soaked to render them porous and absorptive, is to cover them with fish oil and place them in the stocks or fulling machines - huge wooden hammers with notched faces working in iron cases - where they are beaten and turned, and subjected to a uniform pressure until the oil is gradually absorbed. After taking them out, hanging them up, and stretching them, the oil and fulling process is repeated according to the thickness of the skin, and until every part of it is full of oil. After this the skins are dried in a mild heat that causes the oxidization of the oil. This being completed, all the superfluous oil is removed by putting the skins in an alkali bath.

Then the curing process is complete.