Monthly Archives: November 2018

18th November 2018

Tailor’s buttons:

Joe Taylor, Melbourne:

Independant (Footscray)             31st October 1908.

Known as ‘Joe Taylor, The Tailor’ operated from at least 1906 at 109 Bourke Street and 69 Swanston Street. They were successful enough to open branches in Footscray, Richmond, North Melbourne, Brunswick and Sydney. He was a master of self-promotion, and claimed ancestry to a line of notable English tailors who had dress royalty and Prime Ministers.

The Argus, 1st March 1913.

Table Talk, 22 May 1913

The Sun (Sydney) 22nd July 1917.

He made a big deal of selling bargain price (5 pound) suits of quality tweed post war, and this was part of his undoing. The price was not sustainable, and he used cheaper quality material, passing it off as the brand name product. This resulted in him being found guilty of breach of contract and fined. He was insolvent from 1922 to 1924.

17th November 2018

Tailor’s buttons:

W. McElwee, Melbourne:

William Colin McElwee (31/10/1889-1978) advertised as located at Union House, 284-6 Little Collins Street around 1930-33.  The eight story Union House was built in 1922-3 and demolished in 1939 to make way for the extension of G. J. Coles Bourke Street store, now occupied by David Jones.

Farmer’s, Sydney:

The tailor’s button below is interesting in that it not only has the store’s name (Farmers) inscribed, but also an advertising phrase: ‘The Store for Boys’.





The Sun (Sydney) 4th December 1935.

The details of the advertisment are amusing:

“Holiday clothes are always a problem. Young fellow-m’lad, who’s going away to have a high old time, has to be kept looking somehow smart sitting down to breakfast and lunch with other guests at wherever it is you’re staying. Farmer’s solves the problem with British Khaki drill play suits.”

16th November 2018

New tailor’s button:

Bright & Hitchcock, Geelong:

William Hitchcock (1811-1867) emigrated from Devonshire, England, to Geelong with his sons George Michelmore (1831-1912) and Walter Michelmore Hitchcock (1833-1923). They started a drapery business , Hitchcock Brothers & Co., between 1850-52. They went into partnership in 1853 with William Bright (1803-1875) under the name Wm. Bright & Co. 

After Bright retired around 1857 they changed the name to Bright & Hitchcock. The company was listed in 1950. It was sold and re-sold in 1959, 1968, 1969 and 1976 then closed in 1979. Since that the building has been subdivided into smaller shops.

Geelong Advertiser, 18th July 1923. Walter M. Hitchcock.

Geelong Advertiser, 8th May 1912. George M. Hitchcock.

Leader, 12th August 1893.

Late 1940s.


15th November 2018

New backmark/uniform button!!

C. Hemsley, Sydney:

Charles Richard Hemsley (1839-1926) was an importer of ‘Men’s Mercery’ in partnership with John Gard as ‘Gard and Hemsley’ from 1869-1971. He continued the business own his own at 390 George Street, Sydney and advertised as supplying uniforms. In 1880 the business was bought by Gowing Brothers. the business continued under the name of ‘C.Hemsley’ until 1895 at 43 Erskine Street.

Sydney Morning herald, 11th February 1876.

13th November 2018

New tailor’s button:

Ball & Welch, Melbourne:

Whilst I don’t remember this firm, my husband does. I must be a smidge too young.

Charles Ball and his nephew William Henry Welch started a store on the gold fields of Vaughn, near Castlemaine, in 1853.

The Herald, 23rd January 1945.

According to a newspaper story, the drapery side of things was really started by their wives. Over the years they dissolved the partnership and restarted it a couple of times, which is a little confusing. In 1870 they started a branch in Carlton, Melbourne. Mr Ball died in 1876 in Carlton. As Vaughn declined,  that store was relocated to Castlemaine in 1882.  The Carlton store declined, so a new Emporium was built in Flinders Street.  It opened in 1899, but Mr Welch had died in 1896.

The Australasian 2nd September 1899.

The Frankston store, circa 1950s

Members of the family continued to run the business and in 1935 it was listed on the stock exchange.The firm expanded into Sydney and around Melbourne’s suburbs. It was Melbourne’s leading draper in its heyday. In 1970 it was taken over by George’s. Luckily , the Facade in Flinders Street has been preserved.

Celebrity note: Norm Everage, husband of Dame Edna, was an accountant at Ball and Welch.

12th November 2018

More tailor’s buttons:

Cragie & Co, Melbourne:

William Cameron Craigie senior ran his tailoring concern from 1889 at 265 Little Collins Street. The button is just marked ‘Craigie & Co’ but the business was actually called ‘W. C. Craigie & Co’, and in 1933 was listed as a propriety limited company with his son Alexander Thomas Craigie. It continued after his death in 1936, last mentioned in the newspapers in 1941.

The Herald 27th June 1940.

W. P. Manson & Co, Melbourne:

In 1922 William Peter Manson finished his partnership of ‘Woods & Manson’ and bought a tailoring business at the corner of Bourke and Queens Street. He registered it as a propriety limited company in 1929  along with George Thomas Pender Gibbs. it was still trading in 1954.

The Argus, 13th April 1954. “Where Men Shop”, what more can you say?

10th November 2018

New tailor’s buttons:

A.E. Barber, Coburg:

Albert Ernest Barber (1891-2973) moved his business to 438 Sydney Road, Coburg in 1935. By 1942 he had moved  down the road to 694 Sydney Road, Brunswick.

C. J. Lane, Melbourne:

Charles James Lane (1869-1925) advertised at Flinders Lane in 1888. from 1892-1896 he was the manager of the Woollen department of the Mutal Stores. In 1896 he purchased a  mercery and tailoring business at 230 Collins Street where he operated until moving to the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane around 1917. Circa 1921 he may have sold the business (which was still advertising in 1933) and became a wool broker and importer. He was heavily overdrawn to his bank in 1921-2. In 1924 he sued his bank for damages  for erroneously dishonouring a promissory note. Although he was awarded 1000 ponds, perhaps the previous years of stress had taken their toll, for he died the next year, aged only 56 years.

Melbourne Punch, 10th September 1896.

Melbourne Punch 28th January 1897.

New finds:

Demetre and Leda cards:

The cards look similar, don’t they?



8th November 2018

New finds:

Brisbane Tramways by  A.J. Parkes:



In 1878 a Royal Commision into the linking of the Southern and Western railways in Queensland was told that railway in Brisbane would cost 14,000 pounds per miles whereas road tramways would cost 3400 to 8000 pounds per mile. The next year a ‘Brisbane Railway and Tramway Company  and also a “Brisbane Steam Tramway Company” were being proposed. However, due to legal concerns about the saftey and ammenity of steam engines and/or raised rails upon roads, the issue was delayed. Some felt the government, not private concerns, should build such a service. It took until 1882 before legislation was passed allowing the construction of a tramways, and then until December 1883 before the ‘Brisbane Tramway Company’ was registered. Even then, it remained a contentious issue and it was not until May 1884 that construction commenced. Official serviced commenced on the 10th August 1885 by horse drawn tram owned by the ‘Brisbane Metropolitan Tramway and Investment Co.’ Unfortunately, only 6 weeks later the first fatality occurred when an employee was run over.

The first item of uniform provided to tramwaysmen was a cap. It took some years for matching tunics and trousers to be supplied. The first mention of tramways uniforms in the newspapers was in 1899.

Electric trams ran from June 1897 although horse-drawn trans were in use until 1899. With competition from buses and private cars the service became uneconomical by 1948 and was wound down; the last services running on 13th April 1969.



State Library of Queensland




7th November 2018

New find: Volunteer Cadet Corps by Lincoln Stuart & Co:

I am glad to finally have a button from this tailor. I have previously shared an image of a button from carol’s collection from the same Cadet Corps, but made by Stokes & Martin. This one dates from 1889 until 1901, from when Lincoln Stuart & Co was registered until the death of Queen Victoria.

Published in the Bulletin, 24/12/1914.

6th November 2018

Women’s Royal Australian Army Service (WRAAC):

In WW2 the Australian Women’s Army Service was raised. Many senior personnel from this transferred to the WRAAC in 1951, which was raised in response to the shortage of manpower that occurred due to the Korean conflict and also a period of full employment. Recruitment started in 1953. The women were trained separately, but could be deployed either to WRAAC units or male units. It was disbanded in 1984 as women had begun to be integrated into the general army from the late 1970s.

The caps haven’t changed, but the hemlines sure have!