What Is A Workman Glove?

Anything related to gloves (pre-1970) you can post here.

Work Work Work

Postby softball66 » January 8th, 2008, 9:03 am

Dave, I'm gonna have to disagree with you on the "it's still a workman's glove with the additions." premise. A workman's glove should look like a workman's glove not something that doesn't look like a workman's glove as by adding a web and an exterior crescent padding. These change the appearance from a workman's glove which used to protect the workman's hand into a "catching" device. Why not describe them as crescent and or full web gloves? Why hold on to the workman aspect as this seems confusing. And, as you can see this has opened a can of worms for sellers describing just about anything before 1920 as a "workman" glove. Huh?
I believe in the 1870s-80s, Sporting Goods sellers were just adapting workman type gloves (thoseused by any workman in any endeavor whether in farming or industrial work, etc.) Until Arthur Irwin came along and requested a "padded" baseball glove because of an injury to his hand. Then as the glove evolved, perhaps with the added padding, or the fact that the hand was sweaty, the opening in the back was widened and as it widened as you mentioned there was even less appearance to the old workman glove.
I think it mentioned in story on Redleg Doug Allison that he had a saddlemaker" fashion his gloves. Charlie Waite may have just put on a
men's leather dress glove by the way (Spalding story).
I'll take a look back into all my pre 1900 catalog copies for a some answers. Meanwhile put me in the workman glove should look like a workman glove camp.
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Postby Centerfield » January 8th, 2008, 1:03 pm

I’m in the camp that calls a workman model as a glove without a web and without padding. As years passed and improvements were made, these attributes were significant enough to warrant a name change in the style of glove being described. That said, gloves were produced and have surfaced where some of these attributes crossed over from model to model. In cases such as this, some terms take precedence over others in how I would categorize the glove in hand.

There are three general fielder’s glove categories; workman, crescent and full web. Beyond those, any other attribute a glove may have would be used as a subcategory. For example;

Workman – no padding and no web

Webless crescent

Crescent full web

Full web

Further characteristics like narrow wrist, thumb construction type and strap variety would be used to further describe the original major category. For example, “crescent full web with narrow (tapered) wrist and buckleback”.

I’ve always viewed gloves from this era based on this mindset and felt it was fair and accurate to those buying or simply learning about old leather.
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1896 Reach Guide

Postby david bushing » January 8th, 2008, 1:42 pm

It becomes a matter of collector definition. In my SCD Vintage Sports Equipment Price Guide, Workman's gloves are listed with all improvements ie webs and padding as different style workman type with a note that those sans pads and webs are worth more but are a type of workman glove and I will stick with the wider spectrum of styles as laid forth by me back in 1995. As for the question as to what the makers called them, in the Reach 1896 Guide,they are simply listed as the infielders glove (workman style, this issue has no web or padding) , infielders mitts (early basemans style used at other positions) and catchers mitts. There is no use of the word "workman", "brakeman" etc. These are terms created by collectors and dealers to put a name to the glove so it comes down to whose description one chooses to use. I think my book was the earliest known to establish uniform collector terminology and even if I updated the book, I would still call this style of glove with improvements a workman style with note to the later improvements given the wrist, thumb and body of the glove was of the earliest style. Much like the commonly referred to "executioner leather football helmet" , this was a term I applied to the face mask style helmet as it related to collector recognition yet it was never called that in any mfg. catalog.
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Postby Centerfield » January 8th, 2008, 2:26 pm

You’re correct, none of these terms are found in any period catalog. They were coined and are being used (and discussed now) to help describe styles and categorize gloves of that era into a more logical and orderly system. It comes down to semantics. I feel that grouping everything into a “workman style” category is, frankly, lazy. It leaves too much open to interpretation. In an age where everyone and their mother is selling gloves and reaching an immense market via the web, loose terminology encourages fraud by those who do have hobby experience. Further descriptive classification differentiates eras, styles and ultimately rarity. As you can tell from my previous posts, I’m a stickler for being as accurate as possible. This topic is no different, though there is an added bonus to breaking down the period into subcategories. It encourages demand for these types of gloves. It would open more collectors’ eyes (as well as potential collectors with deep pockets) to the vast possibilities and challenges of acquiring nineteenth century and turn of the century gloves. From a dealer’s standpoint, I think this would far outweigh lumping everything from this era into one catchall category, though I can understand why one would do this. I’m sure arriving at a consensus will be difficult, if not impossible, but this is my view on the subject. It’s a way to further market the hobby which would benefit all of us.
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Term "Workman"

Postby softball66 » January 8th, 2008, 2:29 pm

Dave, if you will read my earliest and followup posts from other forum members, you will see that most of us are having a problem with what you are referring to as a "workman" glove. You may have been the one to term these gloves "workman" gloves and did so in your SCD Book on equipment. No way for me, as you describe the glove on page 82 of your book that has a web, a crescent and a sewn-on separate thumb (none of which a "non-baseball" workman's glove have) as a workman glove, in which you have there. So you may have been the one who has coined the "workman" term that ebay sellers are now misusing (to the majority of us) to describe webbed, crescents, etc. type gloves.
You use the football executioner mask analogy. Well if the executioner mask had ears added, I would call it a batman mask and drop the executioner mask (with ears) such as you are doing with the workman glove, i.e. "with....
What's wrong with calling them crescent gloves or webbed crescent gloves and dropping the workman which these gloves now are far departure from a workman appearance?
I don't find any use of workman gloves in my 19th century catalogs either. I DID read the term "brakeman" in an 1800s story to allude to the baseball gloves of the day. Cowboy, by the way, is right about railroad worker brakemen who set the breaks on the rail cars (specific job) using heavy leather gloves. I think maybe "brakemen" term also applied to trolley car conductors.
I do see where you are coming from with the narrower gloves with these have the appearance of a workman glove as opposed to the later wider ones. But too much has been added and modified from that.
I say you drop the workman and define, like centerfield says, crescent,
webbed crescent.
Would anyone like to see a poll on this?
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Postby Centerfield » January 8th, 2008, 2:29 pm

This is fun stuff... but it would be much better if we had more participation besides just a few guys. Would love to hear other opinions on the matter. That's what this board is for. :shock:
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Postby vintagebrett » January 8th, 2008, 3:14 pm

If I had a vote, I'd go with the majority here in that a workman's glove would be just that, a glove - definitely no web. The padding I could go either way on - I'm inclined to say no extra padding (i.e. a crescent pad) but it's possible a guy working on machinery might have some extra padding, depending on the nature of his job.
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Postby Brennerbaseball » January 9th, 2008, 9:23 am

Hi. I have been an ebay member since its inception around 1997 and have collected gloves since about 1995. I think the “newer” gloves that that are being described as workman’s gloves are a recent trend on ebay. I have seen isolated cases of this in years before on ebay but I agree with most here that it seems to be becoming more frequent and is a cause for confusion, possibly even driving up the prices on some of the ebay auctions due to the fact that less knowledgeable people think they are bidding on older gloves.

However, in my opinion it comes down to semantics like Centerfield suggested. To me, the right thing to do is to eliminate confusion to potential buyers by having the best description that you can. Like the majority here I believe that it makes the most sense to organize chronologically this way: 1) Fingerless gloves 2) Workman’s Style Glove – No webbing, no crescent pad, very little padding; 3) Webless crescent pad 4) Full web crescent pads.

In my opinion the word “workman” should only be used in a description where the glove has no webbing, no crescent pad and very little padding by design.

Thanks for this great forum.

Alex Brenner
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Workmans Gloves

Postby ebbets55 » January 9th, 2008, 6:40 pm

I'm still sticking with my opinion that a workmans glove has no web and no crescent padded heel. I would agree that you wouldn't find these terms in manufacturers catalogues at the time because manufacturers catalogues like Peck & Snyder and Sears Roebuck & Co. were selling sporting goods. Baseball gloves were a specialized piece of sporting equipment and were already being tweaked and designed for baseball. A work glove is a glove that wasn't intended for baseball originally. It was taken from its unintended use and used for baseball with only a minor tweak or two. It wasn't til a bit later when they started designing these work type gloves for baseball like putting a pad in the heel to make a pocket for a ball and a web to help close the glove around a ball. These were designs for the purpose of catching a baseball. What I call a workmans glove wasn't.

I'm with Joe, Centerfield and Alex on this one and will never change. Dave, I bought your book the minute it came out and have loved it ever since. Although we all appreciate you for helping to pioneer this hobby of ours, I disagree with you on this topic. I think you are in the minority. You may not have been wrong originally and we needed to start somehwhere, but the hobby has evolved in the last 12 years. I will always disagree. I didn't know you coined the term "Executioners Helmet". I love that term and use it to describe that type of cool helmet.

JD
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workman glove

Postby david bushing » January 9th, 2008, 9:36 pm

Difference of opinions is what makes the world go round. We have been toying with coming out with an updated edition of the sports equipment price guide this year (yes, twelve years is a long time and things have definately changed). I think that if we do and when we get to the workman glove section, we will at least revise the section to determine a true workman glove as sans any padding or improvements and then label all subsequent improvements along the lines of "styled after" the early workman model but with improvements and then label them as padded or web models as issued as an improved workman style glove based on the older design with a thorough explaination about the differences as I do agree that the earlist styles are ridiculously rare and as such, should be priced considerably higher than the later improved models. Speaking of older gloves, when was the last time anyone has seen an early 1890's fielders or basemitt? They seem to be rarer than the workman style, probably because it was worn at fewer positions yet catchers mitts, the only one of nine players wearing such a glove, seem to be rather common. Anybody have any thoughts? David Bushing
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Work Work Work

Postby softball66 » January 10th, 2008, 8:33 am

Dave, we didn't want you to think we were picking on you but I think a majority tend to agree that the term and looks were departure from what a workman glove should look like. But, hey, you've developed a tough skin, right? So has that other glove guy, MITT Romney!
Here what I suspect happened with the old workman 1870s early 1880s
gloves. When Irwin brought in the idea of padding into the mix, this probably tended to make stretch gloves to bigger and wider sizes. I think these gloves got hot as they were worn in warm weather and left on a long time so glove makers opened up the back of the gloves to help cool them down. And Dave don't forget this aspect, the sewn-on separate thumb was incorporated to widen out the glove and this was an "added" feature of the departure. And because the glove was now wider the gap (because of the shape of the human hand) between the forefinger and the thumb became noticeable and hence the webbing added there. The crescent pads had to have been thought to keep the ball from rolling out but I opine that the bounce of the ball off these external pads may have discouraged this idea eventually. The extra width, web, sewn on thumb, wide open back, crescents took the glove pretty far from a workman type look.
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Workmans Gloves

Postby ebbets55 » January 10th, 2008, 6:48 pm

Well said Joe. Dave, please don't think anyone is picking on you (and I know you don't). We are all just chattin' up opinions here. That's why this board has proved so valuable to all us collectors. It gives us all a forum to to talk about things and get a lot of different opinions on a lot of different subjects. It keeps us all interested and keeps us all close. All of us veteran collectors continue to learn a lot of new stuff. I think that's cool and from time to time we are all gonna disagree on some topics. I'm O.K. with that.

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Postby Centerfield » January 10th, 2008, 7:32 pm

I'm here to pick on you ! ! ! :lol:

It's fun to debate, learn, share ideas and stories and untimately gather other points of view from different segments of this growing hobby. Fun stuff...
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Picked on

Postby david bushing » January 11th, 2008, 7:55 pm

Pick away, that which doesn't break you makes you stronger, or so the saying goes and anybody who says they know everything, stay away. Not a day goes by that I don't learn something I didn't know yesterday. Any forum that addresses issues that propel this hobby forward is a good thing. I have a pretty thick skin so dish it out, I can take it but I'm not afraid to give it back. Dave
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Good old Dave

Postby softball66 » January 14th, 2008, 9:01 am

I doubt anyone in the hobby has taken more heat than Dave; at least that I know of. And to his credit, he ALWAYS admits his mistakes when they are clear to him and appreciates any advice. And yes Dave, we know of a few "egg spurts" that never admit they are wrong.
Dave, while going through the glove indices in my recent post on the five year compilation, I ran across some old dealer names that will bring back fond memories: David Stebbins, The Old Sport, The Sydows, Jim Pruitt; John Kashmanian, Chris Ingstrup, Mike Darwish MD spts; Ken Huels, Cliff Simms, Jacques Andre; Snyders etc. Some of you old timers may remember these names too. Some are still with us like Fred Budde; Bill Diebold Everything Baseball, Bob McCann, Corey Leiby; TG Sports (Tom Goldstein), Ron Carlson. :wink:
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