Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, April 2019, The Wisdom of Butlers Past

Steven FerryThe Wisdom of Butlers Past

by Steven Ferry

Part 22: Gloves

Gloves are another fashion statement that is not so common today—being used mainly for practical reasons.

Two centuries ago, gloves were made of doe or buckskin and were cleaned in soap and water. They were then pressed together to remove excess moisture and then stretched on wooden hands or pulled into their proper shape. They were never wrung dry, as that would pull them out of shape and shrink them.

To color the gloves yellow, white, or to darken them, while the gloves are still slightly wet from cleaning, mix yellow ochre, pipe clay, rotten stone, or Fuller’s Earth in beer or vinegar and rub into the gloves, then allow to dry gently (not in the sun or by a fire to avoid shrinking). When dry, beat them up with a cane, brush them, then iron them with a warm iron under a piece of paper to make them look new.

We include the instructions for changing the color of gloves because it is an interesting look into the techniques and trouble that butlers and valets went to in order to accommodate their employers’ wishes or the fashion of the day.

Extracted from the 1823 book, The Footman’s Directory and Butler’s Remembrancer, re-published in hardback by Pryor Publications.

You may obtain your discounted copy (with free s&h) by emailing the publisher: Mr. Pryor (alan AT



The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.