Glove-making in Odense
Sley belonging to the Glove-Makers' Guild in Odense, 1840. It is now at Møntergården in Odense. Photo: Jens Gregers Aagaard.
The merchant, Jonas Matthias Lahn (1728-1802), stood at the apex of the glove-making trade in Odense and he employed many small craftsmen. Lahn was not a modern industrialist, but his business resembled an industry because he had so many employees.
When industry came to Funen
People on Funen were really on their toes when industrialisation took off in the course of the 19th century. Prior to this, every product was a piece of craftsmanship, often produced for a familiar customer. With the advent of mass production, however, uniform articles were produced for a much wider market.
Glove success in Odense
In the 18th century, glove production was the most important business in Odense. The production here was on a much larger scale than in other Danish provincial towns, and Odense leather gloves were sold all over Europe. In the 1770s, almost 10% of the town’s population worked in the glove-making trade.
The glove-making trade in Odense saw industrial developments in the late 18th century. Tradesmen and merchants made increasing use of unskilled seamstresses. The merchant supplied the materials and the seamstresses worked from their own homes. There was also a tendency for small craftsmen to become indebted to larger tradesmen and merchants, in effect reducing them to the status of employees.
This location is part of the exhibition 'Funen – at the centre of the universe', at Møntergården in Odense. Read more about the exhibition on our website.