From Knitting Lingerie Style:
For several centuries, fine needlework was an essential skill for a girl to attain in order for her to create an appealing dowry. It was thought that a woman should put as little burden for her upkeep as possible on her new husband, and so a good dowry would contain enough linens and dressing items, all sewn and decorated by hand, for the first several years of marriage. Needless to say, hundreds of hours went into the production of these items. Fingerless gloves were an important item in the needlework bag, as they would allow a girl to continue working when the fire became low and the home grew cold.
While you may never use these cabled and bobbled silk/wool arm warmers for needlework, you’ll find them useful as a fanciful accessory and for utilitarian purposes--try them when you’re working on a computer in a chilly office or taking photos outdoors in cold weather.