Killed by Poisoned Gloves: 1890, 1893


One of the Most Singular Cases of Poisoning Ever Recorded.

Rarely, it may be thought, has a more singular case of accidental death been recorded than that which recently threw a much-esteemed family residing in the environs of St. Petersburg into mourning. A young lady in perfect health, and with the brightest of futures before her, was among the guests invited to a ball, and, her toilet completed, she drew on a pair of long gloves, reaching above the elbows. Scarcely half an hour afterwards she felt considerable irritation and pain in her arms and hands, too, which, however, for the moment—taken up with pleasures of the evening—she paid but little attention. On returning home her suffering increased, and the following day her hands and arms became covered with sores, which were attributed by the doctor called in to blood poisoning. A week later the poor girl died, after severe suffering and despite the efforts made to save her. The fatal gloves have been handed over for analysis, the conjecture being that the animal with the skin of which they were made was in some way or other diseased, and that the skin used had been imperfectly cleansed. In any case, if this conjecture prove correct, measures will doubtless be taken to ascertain, if possible, whether other gloves, similarly contaminated, are on sale. London Standard. Kalamazoo [MI] Gazette 1 March 1890: p. 9

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil’s holiday research into poisons has been particularly fruitful and, as a reader on Face-book asked for information on poisoned gloves, Mrs Daffodil is gratified to share this useful intelligence. It is perhaps significant that two of the most notorious cases come from Russia, where the young Tsar Nicholas II was warned against wearing gloves by his cautious advisors.


A tale comes from Russia, which sounds like a romance of middle age barbarism. General Count [Vladimir] Scheremetleff, of the czar’s body guard, died suddenly the other day, and it is given out that he was murdered by Nihilists. His death, it is said, was decided some time ago by the Nihilist’s executive committee, and one of its emissaries managed to substitute a pair of poisoned gloves for the ones that the general was wearing and had laid down for a moment. Not observing the change, the general put on the poisoned gloves, and death followed shortly. Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA] 18 March 1893: p. 4

It is said that people who sorted wool or worked with animal bone, bristles, or hides were susceptible to inhalational anthrax. The wonder is that it didn’t kill more people. Once again, we find a mention of Russian hides.


Jas. Francis McLean, whose singular poisoning was yesterday referred to, was employed in the morocco factory of James. S. Barclay, on Piano Street, Newark, N.J., where imported skins are tanned. Last Wednesday he was engaged in the handling of some Russian hides that were in the process of tanning. While his hand was still wet, he rubbed a pimple of his chin. On Thursday night he was taken ill, and on Friday morning he complained of chills, and his throat was slightly swollen. He continued to grow worse, the swelling extending upward to the forehead and half way down his chest. The swelling affected his breathing and he suffered intense pains. A consultation of physicians was held and the conclusion was reached that the young man was afflicted with a malignant pustule. All efforts to save his life proved unavailing, and on Saturday evening he died, partly from strangulation and partly from nervous prostration. These pustules arise generally from the infusion into the blood of virus from diseased animals, and the skins of animals who had died with disease are said to have communicated the poison months after their slaughter. [N.Y. Times, 6th.] Evening Star [Washington, DC] 7 June 1878: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.



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