That's the question. Dictionaries tell that it can be used with items or clothing meaning "wearing" but that would probably be "mano in guanto". Can any native speaker help me there? This is from 1600 etiquette advice:

"Et quì vò dire, che le Dame in Ballo, nel pigliar per la mano i Cavalieri, non debbono pigliarli con havere il guanto in mano, il che facendo, come ad alcune hò veduto fare, sono poi da tutti derise, & beffeggiate;"

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    Welcome on ItalianSE! – abarisone Oct 9 '18 at 14:31
  • Could you please add more information about the context you find this expression? – abarisone Oct 9 '18 at 14:33
  • Added the context. Hope it helps. – Rostislav Kondratenko Oct 9 '18 at 14:36
  • Also thank you for edits. This is my first SE question, though I answered some in past. – Rostislav Kondratenko Oct 9 '18 at 14:37
  • You're welcome. – abarisone Oct 9 '18 at 14:38

The sentence you wrote is a ambiguous on its own, and could mean both things. However, if we look a little further in the text we see that it says

Le Dame in Ballo, nel pigliar per la mano i Cavalieri, non debbono pigliarli con havere il guanto in mano, [...] avanti che venga il tempo [...] si deono cavar i guanti, & porli nel manicone;

Here the texts advises to remove (cavar) the gloves, which implies that the dames were wearing them. So in this case con havere guanto in mano means wearing the gloves.

  • Thank you for the answer, but that's still ambiguous. As the advice is to "remove" and "put in a sleeve" the gloves. The removal part is covered well in more general advice so here the author may mean that you have to put them away as well. – Rostislav Kondratenko Oct 10 '18 at 9:49
  • The point that i'm interested in is if it was a reasonably common practice to dance with gloves held in a hand. – Rostislav Kondratenko Oct 10 '18 at 9:53
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    @RostislavKondratenko I'm sorry I cannot help you with this, but if it helps there's nothing in the text supporting that interpretation. To me the dichotomy implied is quite clearly between wearing gloves and putting them away inside the sleeve (you do not "remove" the gloves if they are in your hand). – Denis Nardin Oct 10 '18 at 10:04
  • I see your point, but there's wider context to it. But your thinking made me look at other references where I can find more definitive answer. Here: pbm.com/~lindahl/caroso2/transcription/0096.clean.html we have "egli si caverà il suo guanto destro, se l'haverà in mano;" that implies that indeed "in mano" means wearing a glove on a hand. I should probably make it into an answer. – Rostislav Kondratenko Oct 10 '18 at 10:37

At least in this context the answer is quite clear. Previously in the same book we have:

egli si caverà il suo guanto destro, se l'haverà in mano;

This implies that "in mano" here means "wearing" the glove, because "cavare" unambiguosly means to take clothes off.

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