Aeronautical Clothing British
Price = n/a
Royal Flying Corps 'Double-Gauntlet' Fownes Flying Gloves
This very scarce pattern was designed and patented in 1907 by Henry Urwick, the son of one of the Fownes Brothers owners. Fownes was established in Worcestershire, a prosperous glove making region in England, back in 1777 and they remain in business to this day. In the early days of aviation very little flight clothing was available to combat the bitter cold of an open cockpit at 5,000 or 10,000 feet and aircrew mainly resorted to the civilian market for their needs, with motoring clothing being the first port of call. The Fownes design however was specifically created for use by fledgling RFC aircrew and continued as an issue item in the early days of the RAF.
The unique design Urwick created is effectively a two in one glove with the inner part being an ordinary glove with thumb and fingers, whilst the outer section was in the form of a mitten, that covers the inner finger section but could be folded back when needed to aid access to flight controls and critically to operate machine guns. The pattern immediately proved popular with aircrews, where frostbite was a constant and deadly threat, exacerbated by the windchill factor created at speeds of 70-80 MPH. This pair was issued, we believe, to the same airman as the RFC goggles, we have just listed and whilst showing clear signs of significant service use, yet despite their age remain in remarkably good display condition. The tan leather is soft and supple and the seams are sound. The inner palm area and the top 'mittern' section are more soiled, as you would expect. The metal studs to secure the mitten in the folded position remain in situ but now carry some age-related Verdigris. The inner fleece lining has now been worn away. The leather lining of the gauntlet section remains very clean and is clearly size stamped '8/2' in two places and further manufacturers details, that now largely indecipherable, but appear to show Patent detail, Made in England and we suspect originally the company name.
We are indebted to Mark Hillier's excellent 'Royal Flying Corps Kit Bag' reference book (which should be in the reference library of every serious RFC collector), for much of the above information and where the Fownes design is fully described and illustrated on pages 61-65. In 20 years as a dealer and in a lifetime as a collector this is a first for us and perhaps the rarest of all aviators flying gloves, where often the origins are impossible to pin down. No such doubt exists here and this set represents a one-off opportunity to add these to your collection.