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Pair of gloves

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1603-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Leather and satin, embroidered with silk and metal thread, spangles and seed pearls. Trimmed with silver and silver-gilt bobbin lace hung with spangles.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir Edward Denny

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
Gloves served several purposes in early 17th-century England. Many were solely decorative, to display the wealth and status of their owner. They were worn in the hat or belt, as well as carried in the hand. Gloves were popular as gifts and were often given by a young gallant to his favourite mistress. In combat, a glove was thrown down as a gage, or challenge.

Materials & Making
Seed pearls decorate this very richly embellished glove. Silver and silver-gilt thread and purl (short lengths of metal thread curled tightly together like a minute spring), spangles (an old term for sequins) and coloured silks cover the densely embroidered satin gauntlet. Each motif is heavily padded underneath with additional stitches to give a pronounced three-dimensional effect.

Subjects Depicted
A snail, a lion and a sheep are embroidered on the gloves. These animals may relate to the heraldry of the owner. They could also be personal devices of the wearer, chosen to represent some individual quality or virtue. Many of the motifs that appear in Jacobean embroidery were copied from emblem books. This was a popular form of literature, which linked visual images with moral virtues.

Physical description

Leather glove with embroidered gauntlet cuff

Place of Origin

England (made)


1603-1625 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Leather and satin, embroidered with silk and metal thread, spangles and seed pearls. Trimmed with silver and silver-gilt bobbin lace hung with spangles.


Height: 9 cm maximum, at lace cuffs, Width: 26 cm maximum, Length: 41.5 cm maximum

Object history note

These gloves are either the pair reputedly given by King Henry VIII to Sir Anthony Denny, or the pair reputedly given by King James I of England to Anthony's son, Edward Denny. The style of the gloves is appropriate for the period of James I rather than Henry VIII. However, Edward Denny died in 1599/1600.

From the Annual Register of 1759:
“At the sale of the Earl of Arran’s curiosities in Covent Garden the Gloves given by King Henry the 8th to Sir Anthy. Denny were sold for £38.17.0, the Gloves given by King James the 1st to Edwd. Denny Esq (son of Sir Anthy.) for £22.1.0, the mittens given by Queen Elizth. to Sir Edwd. Denny’s lady for £25.4.0 and the Scarf given by King Charles the 1st for £10.10.0, all of which were bought for Sir Thomas Denny of Ireland, who is lineally descended from the said Sir Anthony Denny, one of the Executors of King Henry the VIII.”

Descriptive line

Pair of gloves, leather, satin embroidered with silk and metal thread, England, 1603-1625

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, p.93, 1938, plate LXVI

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Gloves such as these were a popular form of gift from James I to favoured courtiers or foreign diplomats. They were meant to be carried ostentatiously rather than worn. The embroidered thistle and rose refer to the union of Scotland and England under James I in 1603. [27/03/2003]
Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text:

Pair of gloves
About 1600–20

Gloves were among the most frequent tokens given or received by the English monarch at New Year. These gloves may have been a gift from James I to one of his courtiers. The thistle and rose refer to the union of Scotland and England through James’s
accession to the throne in 1603.

Leather with silk satin gauntlets, embroidered with silk, metal thread
and seed pearls, trimmed with metal bobbin lace
Given by Sir Edward Denny
V&A 1506&A-1882 []


Leather; Metal thread; Silk thread; Silk (textile)




Clothing; Fashion; Accessories; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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