It is in Charente, Charente-Maritime, Vienne but especially in the Deux-Sèvres department that, at the end of the 19ème In the 19th century, there were many hide processing factories due to the industrialization of the activity. But it is especially in Niort that the activity developed, making it famous, and this, with the Boinot chamois and glove factory.


Chamoiserie, tannery, glove factory, what are they?

Chamoising is an artisanal technique to make very soft leather and above all high quality in particular used in the glove factory (glove manufacturing). The place where this specific type of activity is practised is a chamois factory.

In the past, leather was made from chamois leather. The chamois is a species of mammals of the family Bovidae and the subfamily Caprine. The skins were treated with fish oil, which made it an expensive and above all rare product!

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chamoiserie-tannerie-ganterie-port-boinot-niort-marais-poitevin

The all the first French chamois shops were created in Niort and Poitiers under the reign of Francis 1er.

A significant number of artisanal tanneries existed in the region at the time. Strategically, in each city with a river that runs through it, There was a tannery district.

The Niort chamois factory

In the Middle Ages, Niort specialised in chamois making. Sound development important was allowed thanks to the proximity of the Sèvre Niortaise and its characteristics: the quality of its water, a sufficient flow to drive the mills and of course, its navigability thus facilitating transport of goods such as fish oil, which is an essential component of the production process.

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In 1534, Jacques Cartier to discover Canada which will promote the activity and reputation of Niort for its chamois. The skins and their accessories will to be sold throughout France and abroad from the ports of La Rochelle and Nantes. A drop in imports from 1689 onwards because of a number of factors, including the the Franco-English confrontation.

End of 18ème century, Thomas Jean Maina Niort-based industrialist, will give a new, more modern look on activity by introducing new processes that he has seen in other countries such as England.

It is at 19ème century that chamoiseries niortaises are really turning to glove-making. Years go by and Mechanisation arrived in factories in the 1860s/1870s.

The chamois industry under the Boinot family

In the 1900s, Théophile Boinot, wool merchant, acquired 2 chamois companies in Niort. With his 2 sons, Louis and Charles, it will develop considerably "The Boinot factories". In 1930, the glove industry reached a production of 210,000 dozen gloves, which represented 22% of French manufacturing at the time.

Mathéo Reulier

Chamoiserie-ganterie de Niort

Former entrance to the Boinot factory in Port Boinot, Niort.

Unfortunately, the world crisis of 1929 will hit the industry hard which, at that time, exported 55% of its products including in Germany and Czechoslovakia. This was no longer the case after this tragic episode.

The industry has gone through the 2ème world war by offering several different and varied products but it is really in the 1960s/1970s that the activity will start again.

The Boinot factories were then a true Niort institution. They employed 3,000 people in the manufacturing and home-based workshops, most of whom were women in the glove industry.

Unfortunately, time passed and production was affected by strong foreign competitionat the same time as society was evolving and modernising This has made chamois leather, and in particular gloves, a lesser used clothing accessory.

For more information:

Mathéo Reulier
epona-musee-secret-de-nos-patrimoines-niort-boinot

Meet at Port Boinot, on the 1st floor of the Dryer to discover the space "Epona - Secrets of our Heritage". You will discover the history of Destination Niort - Marais Poitevin including the chamoiserie niortaise which represents a an important episode in the development of the region.

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