In Roman times, the place of the glove was taken by long sleeves (manicae) reaching to the hand, and in winter special sleeves of fur were worn. In Medieval Latin we find the word muffulae, defined by Du Cange as chirothecae pellitae et hibernae ("leather winter gloves"). He quotes from a cartulary of the year 817, of the issuing to monks of sheepskin coverings to be used during the winter. These may have been, as the Roman certainly were, separate coverings for each hand, although the cartulary cited also distinguishes the glove for summer from the muffulae for winter wear. The Old French moufle meant a thick glove or mitten, and from this the Dutch mof, Walloon mouffe, and thence English "muff", are probably derived.
Writing at his website in December 2010, American motorcycle design innovator Craig Vetter claimed to have "created and developed" from 1971 what he called Hippo Hands, later sold to the public from 1973 by the Vetter organisation. These were very similar to a product that was easily available to UK motorcyclists from a retail shop/mail order outlet from the early-1960s, with the description handlebar muffs.When reviewing clothing and riding accessories in a 1966 feature entitled "Tough Weather Gear" for the weekly journal Motor Cycle, regular journalist John Ebbrell described the muffs as:
- Chisholm 1911, p. 955.
- Hippo Hands (Archived from the original at craigvetter.com), Archived 1 May 2017, Retrieved 1 December 2017
- Motor Cycle, 4 October 1962, Pride and Clarke single-page advert Special Offer - Handlebar muffs 12/6, postage 2/6, p.31 Accessed 1 December 2017
- Motor Cycle, 21 February 1963, Pride and Clarke double-page advert Handlebar muffs 17/6, postage 2/6, pp.23-24 Accessed 1 December 2017
- Motor Cycle, 21 February 1963, You say this reader's letters "Heated Muffs Experiment", p.230 Accessed 1 December 2017
- Motor Cycle, 4 November 1965, Pride and Clarke double-page advert, Handlebar muffs 17/6, postage 3/0, p.18 Accessed 1 December 2017
- Muffs, Oxford Products, Retrieved 1 December 2017
- Motor Cycle, 13 January 1966, Equipment for winter riding - Tough Weather Gear by John Ebrell, pp.32-34. Accessed 1 December 2017
- Pride and Clarke, Car and Motorcycle Accessory Catalogue, undated, p.4 Accessed 1 December 2017