Translations of Official Austrian Reports on the
Vienna Universal Exhibition of 1873
The general introduction of the sewing machine into this business has not diminished its employment of women and girls. Quite half of the work entailed by this manufacture is done by women, and the industry has both in quality and quantity made extraordinary progress during the last 20 years and become an exporting trade. The number of women it employs in Vienna and Prague is considerable, as well as in Lower Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, chiefly for account of manufacturers carrying on business in Vienna and Prague.
Women are employed :
1) In sewing gloves, with glove-sewing machines
This machine, called also a “Comb,” is not to be confounded with the glove-making machines invented in recent years on an American principle. The old fashioned machine formerly used is meant, which cannot be called a sewing machine in the present sense of the term. It may be described as a regulator, which is constructed to produce a more even seam, setting the stitches at regularly equal distances apart, by making the needle pass between two metal plates in which a series of fine teeth fit into each other. The affair seems very simple, but it takes the worker a long time to learn to draw, the thread against the tooth with equal strength at every stitch. With this the cut out parts of the glove are sewn together, the glove is bound, the button hole sewn and the three seams on the hand. Nearly all gloves are made in the manner described, so that this part of the manufacture occupies 80 per cent of the workers. The quality of the work varies, in spite of the machine, considerably and only a fraction of it is faultless in seam. The price paid for this work in Vienna varies between 16 and 26 kreutzers for one pair of gloves with one button hole; at which from 64 kreutzers to 1 florin and 4 kreutzers can be earned in a day's work. Gloves with several buttons are more expensive, up to 34 kreutzers the pair. In Prague the payment for a pair is 13 to 21 kreutzers.
2) Sewing with an Automatic Sewing Machine (Rudolf system)
The woman has in this work only to attend to the machine and put before it the several parts in proper position. The machine is not so generally used as it deserves to be, but there is no doubt it will everywhere supersede the regulator as soon as it is improved sufficiently for the finest sewing. The earnings of the worker with this machine are very much larger, for industriously and skilfully used it makes 10 to 15 pairs of gloves in a day and some women can make 20 pairs with it. The price for the sewing remaining unaltered these women can thus earn 2-40 to 2-80 florins per day. The weekly earnings made in Prague with this machine reach from 7 florins 20 kreutzers to 10 florins.
3) Tambouring the Gloves with Silk
to give the seams on the back a greater fulness is nearly always done to gloves for export to England and Holland. Holes are punctured for the stitches with a fine-toothed instrument in single, double, or triple rows and the cut-out glove being stretched on a frame strong silk is drawn through them with a crochet needle. This system is much in vogue with the medium fine sorts of gloves and the work is remunerative, the pair being paid with 5 or 6 kreutzers, one person easily sewing 36 pairs and thus earning from 1 fl. 80 kr. to 2 fl. 16 kr. in a day.
4) Quilting the Gloves
is a peculiar mode of sewing them, the leather pieces being placed not in juxta-position, but one on the other, the seam thus made being more durable. This can be done by hand, or with the American double chain-stitch sewing machine. In both cases the daily earnings of the worker are from 1 florin to 1:20, or, if she is skilful, 1.80 florins. In Prague quilting a pair of gloves is paid with 73 to 75 kreutzers and an industrious woman can work three pairs a day. Continuous work at a sewing machine is detrimental to the lungs and entails all the other evils attendant on a sedentary life. Women of many classes of the people work at glove-making at their homes. Their usual ages range from 20 to 40 years. Many of them pursue this only as a supplementary occupation. Their number may be estimated at 5.000 to 6.000.
Report of Franz and Max Stiansy, Glove Makers in Vienna; Members of the International Jury.
The important manufacture of England, which unfortunately was not represented at the Universal Exhibition, is mostly confined to strong gloves known as dogskin, for the manufacture of which sheepskin from the Cape of Good Hope is generally used. The articles produced by this manufacture are most excellent.