The thinking behind which items of ‘Utility’ clothing were to be produced often baffles the modern historian. Some items seem to be luxury items and even making them to leaner manufacturing standards seems to be far more wasteful than just dropping them completely! Today’s object is one of those curious objects, a pair of fine white leather man’s dress gloves:
White dress gloves were worn with evening wear for formal occasions and were most popular in the early years of the twentieth century. They were usually made of fine white calf or goatskin so that a man’s hands were dry when dancing with a lady. The back of the hands have three decorative ridges:
Each glove is secured at the wrist by a small plastic button:
What makes these gloves of interest to us however is the stamp on the interior which has the CC41 utility mark indicating that they were made to the economy standards set out by the Board of Trade:
In a world at war, it seems odd that dress gloves were even considered as being essential production, however they used relatively small off cuts of leather and if there was still a demand then manufacturers would wish to fulfil it and make some extra money for themselves, even if profits were controlled by the government. The scheme was designed to encourage economy of production, rather than restricting commercial endeavour so perhaps if there was a demand for dress gloves then it made sense to meet it with a more leanly manufactured version. The utility mark also meant that the item was tax free, which appealed to the public so there was some incentive to produce items to this standard. The iconic logo was designed by a commercial artist called Reginald Shipp and is in the form of two ‘cheeses’ that look rather like the letter ‘C’. A number of theories have been put forward as to what the ‘CC41’ stood for. Some state it stands for ‘Civilian Clothing’, others for ‘Controlled Commodity’ although it is not clear exactly what the letters were supposed to represent
Makes sense that things used by high society and house of lords members would be taxfree…
“Must keep up appearances you know so the commoners don’t fret” as a morale booster that might have worked although it could be taken in different ways, the taxfree part not so much, “every man does his duty” and all that.
When the Goods and Services tax (our form of VAT) came in, there was a line in a very catchy but unflattering song about it: “Big Macs get taxed, but not a jar of caviar” and it was accurate.