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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




H. B. GLOVER COMPANY

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Photo courtesy: Larry Friedman

H. B. GLOVER COMPANY. The H. B. Glover Company, founded by Henry B. GLOVER in a copartnership named H. B. Glover and Company with W. P. Bingham, A. J. Parker, Lester C. BISSELL and J. B. Glover, was one of the oldest manufacturers of men's wear west of Chicago and one of the oldest companies of its type in the nation.

Founded in 1856 as a small auction room on Main Street, the company began large-scale manufacturing of clothing in 1876. (1) Its factory, listed in the 1878-79 Dubuque City Directory was located at 744 to 752 Main. It had forty-eight steam-powered sewing machines and used 2,600 yards of material daily. In June of 1879 the Dubuque Herald reported that the company manufactured 300 dozen overalls per week. (2) The company dissolved the copartnership in December 1890 and established a corporation named H. B. Glover Company. (3)

In 1895 the firm employed three hundred fifty people of which three hundred were women. The company pioneered adjustable pajamas and sweat-proof pockets. A "pocketeer" in overalls provided many pockets for holding tools.

Glover.png
In the early 1900s, the company relocated in Dubuque to Fifth and Iowa and opened branch plants at Dyersville and Guttenberg. So large was the business that branch factories were established in Guttenberg, Dyersville and Maquoketa. (4) The company expansion led to employment of five hundred in its factories with additional employees in office work and eighteen traveling salesmen. (5) These were operated until WORLD WAR I when a shortage of dyes caused the branches to close. The Dyersville site was later reopened and was in business until the entire company closed in 1955. (6)
First color color double spread advertisement.
In 1910 the company specialties included Glover overalls, Glover duck coats, and its Brighton nightwear and shirts. By the 1920s, Glover introduced leather jackets. Depending on the jacket, ads and labels read "Tailored By Glover", "H.B. Glover", or "Glover Sportswear".

In 1921 H. B. Glover began a series of "Buy At Home" advertisements designed to introduce the public to their products and encourage merchants to handle home products with no freight, express "or drayage" charges. (7) Glover had an endorsement deal in 1925 with the "Four Horsemen" of the Notre Dame football team, who sported their leather jackets. (8)

Herman Roerig, a commercial artist who worked for the Yonkers Engraving Company of Dubuque from 1936 to 1942 and returned in 1950 until his retirement, designed a shirt box for the Glover Shirt Company. Photo courtesy: Mary Roerig Hogan
The first full color double spread advertisement of any product in a nationally known magazine was run by the H. B. Glover Company in the December 3, 1927, issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The company was also one of the first clothing manufacturers to choose the Midwest over one of the coasts in which to establish itself. (9)

According to the 1936 article “World of Romance Behind Glover Company Products”, Glover took great pride in their materials. (10)

   “Most of the raw materials used in Glover Sportswear 
   (Jackets, Coats, Ski Pants, Snow Suits, etc.) originate 
   in the West and the Glover company in selling its goods 
   is emphasizing this very fact. Wool from Wisconsin, Montana, 
   the Dakotas; Mohair from Del Rio and San Angelo; Sheel 
   leather, Horsehide, Piggrain, etc., from the great plains 
   . . . all these find their way into Glover Sportswear. And 
   yet not all grades of woolens and leathers are good enough 
             for Glover garments. The selected Western Range Woolens, 
             for example, are chosen with infinite care. The choicest 
             portion is bought right on the range, direct from the sheep 
             raiser, thereby eliminating costly brokerage fees and the 
             handling of the wool in dirty, crowded warehouses.”
Photo courtesy: Paul Hemmer and Telegraph Herald
A strike at the company in 1890 was the basis of a book entitled 7 1/2 Cents, written by Richard BISSELL, son of the company president. (11) This story was made into the hit musical Pajama Game.

The announcement that the company was closing came in March 1955. Reasons cited were "economic factors" and competition in the industry. (12) Machinery from the plant was sold to the Pendleton Woolen Mills and was shipped to Portland, Oregon. (13)

See: OVERALLS

The 1886-87 Dubuque City Directory listed 103 to 121 6th.

The 1916-1917 Dubuque County Directory listed 470-490 Iowa.

The 1939 Dubuque City Directory listed 480-498 Iowa.


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Source:

1. Riechman, Leona. " 'Glovers' Known All Over U. S. A.," Telegraph Herald, April 30, 1930. p. 8

2. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, June 20, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790620&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Notice," Dubuque Daily Herald, Deember 31, 1890, p. 4.

4. "The Dubuque Overall Industry Gives Employment to 1,300 Persons," Telegraph Herald, February 16, 1910, p. 1

5. Ibid., p. 12

6. "Glover Firm, Founded in 1856, Closes Doors." Telegraph Herald, March 31, 1955, p. 8

7. "Glover Starts 'Buy at Home' Campaign Here," Times-Journal, June 17, 1921, p. 5

8. Stewart, Spencer. "The Art of Vintage Leather Jackets," Online: http://vintageleatherjackets.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-hb-glover-company-dubuque-iowa.html

9. "The H. B. Glover Company," The Fedora Lounge. Online: http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?72733-The-H-B-Glover-Co

10. "1930s H. B. Glover Utility Jacket," Vintage Haberdashers, Online: http://vintagehaberdashers.com/tag/h-b-glover/

11. "Susan Adams Bissell," The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933, Online: http://projects.mtmercy.edu/stonecity/otherartists/adams.html

12. "Glover Firm..."

13. "Plans to Rent Glover Factory Announced," Telegraph Herald, January 11, 1956, p. 13


Advertising card.
This rare photograph shows the H.B. Glover factory east of Washington Park on the site of what became a parking lot for First National Bank and its successors. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
1889 H. B. Glover advertising calendar
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