Who Made Gloves
The earliest manufacturers’ brand names were as numerous as the number of towns throughout the country. One of the earliest and best manufacturers was Draper Maynard, a company founded in 1880 by Jason F. Draper in Plymouth, New Hampshire, once the hub of sporting goods and part of the storied leather tanning area of New England. Draper made leather work gloves. The company entered the baseball glove business in 1882 when Arthur Irwin, shortstop for the Providence Grays of Providence, Rhode Island, asked the company to make him a padded glove for his injured hand. One was custom made for him and much to his surprise Irwin found it easier to make catches. The glove caught on, and fielders began using padded gloves more and more. By the turn of century, glove use was the standard. The Draper Maynard was recognized as the foremost baseball glove manufacturer from 1900 to the 1930s. Hall of Famers like Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth endorsed these gloves with their signatures. But the Depression took its toll on the venerable company and in 1930 it was sold to one of its biggest competitors Goldsmith and later to MacGregor, which specialized in golf equipment. The Draper Maynard name was attached to gloves until 1960. (If you want to read more about Draper Maynard, here’s a great article from the Boston Globe. https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2016/04/29/plymouth-has-unique-sports-history/7Ax24kamV1c4qImXreKaGO/story.html).
By the turn of the century each town had its local glove maker and because of the popularity of the game, major manufacturers who made leather work products such as dress gloves, shoes, boots, belts, gun holsters and saddles began consulting and hiring glove designers. By approximately 1910, a few companies began to distinguish themselves from the others mostly through market popularity and sales dominance. Major companies included: Spalding & Bros. Co. of New York City and Chicopee, Massachusetts followed by A.J. Reach & Co. of Philadelphia; the Ken-Wel Co. of Gloversville, New York; Rawlings of St. Louis, Missouri; Goldsmith & Sons. of Cincinnati, Ohio and The Wilson Co. of Ada, Ohio. J. C. Higgins, a quality glove designer began producing gloves sold in The Sears Catalog. Glove designs, though still diverse, began to become more standardized. The price for a glove at that time could range between 50 cents to a $1.50.