The Map: London, 1851


The landmarks of Victorian London, stitched onto a fashionable leather glove.
Open between 1 May and 11 October 1851, over six million visitors managed to find their way to London’s Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.
It was hoped that some of its more fashionable female visitors would get there and back using this leather glove, designed by George Shove in 1851 and painted with London landmarks and roads.
Other landmarks include Buckingham Palace, identifiable by its flying flag, Westminster Abbey and the British Museum.
This was a period when middle-class women were becoming increasingly visible, frequenting arcades, shops and events such as the Great Exhibition (tickets were £3 for gentlemen, £2 for ladies).
Lesley Murray and Hannah Vincent have suggested that the glove never entered mass production because, in encouraging female mobility, it was ‘considered too dangerous’.
Although ostensibly intended for visitors, however, the sparse roadmap might have served most use as a novelty souvenir.
Never worn, this prototype survives because Shove registered it with the Registrar of Designs in January 1851 by submitting it as a sample.
His business was evidently unsuccessful because heended up in debtors’ prison.
After a later career as a corn merchant he died, aged 37, in 1863.
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