Here we show-case tailoring buttons, from the individual to large emporiums such as The Leviathan.
A. Boswarrick, Melbourne:
Arthur Boswarrick, originally from Ballarat, (1867-1944) was a tailor in Sale, Victoria, in partnership with Mr Herbert Phillips. They ended their partnership in 1889, with Arthur continuing alone. Unfortunately the business failed the following year. He moved to Melbourne by 1891 and by 1893 he was advertising for employees for his “Eclipse Tailoring Company” in Sydney Road, Brunswick. He was involved in the local council and also local sporting clubs. His first wife died in 1904 and his second wife in 1909, only days after giving birth. How sad.
Alfred Bowley & Company, Melbourne:
As a naval and military uniform outfitter in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, they were importing items such as buttons from London from before federation. The company continued to at least 1945, when Alfred Bowley died.
The above button of the Commonwealth Cadet Corps is from Carol’s collection. It dates from 1901-1910 (Edward VII) but is not marked as to where it was made. The infantry button (also from Carol’s collection) is marked BOWLEY & CO MELBOURNE.
From an auction advert.
Above: Carol tells me this style button was for nurses uniforms.
Alston & Brown, Melbourne:
Mr Alston was born in Glasgow and came to Melbourne in 1852. In 1857, due to the retirement of his previous partner, Thomas Alston went into partnership with William White Brown selling clothing and drapery. They became known as very fashionable, high class drapers in Collins Street until they closed the business in 1888. Mr Alston was to become a director of various companies and public institutions and a J.P. He died on Christmas Day,1907.
The article below was published in the Australasian, 12th July, 1884.
A. N. Lovick: Adelaide
Allan Andrew Nesbit Lovick was born in Banbury, England in 1880 and died in Adelaide in 1944. A. N. Lovick & Co were tailors located in King William Street from c.1923 through to 1938.
A.S. Austen: Melbourne
Arthur Scott Austen( 1890-1960) operated his tailoring business from Howey Place, and later The Block Arcade, Collins Street from 1920, after the dissolution of a previous partnership, until 1943. He was very involved in Red Cross and Legacy. In 1946 he joined the Victorian Soldier Settlement Commision.
Ben Cohen, Melbourne:
Benjamin Cohen (1853-1935), tailor and outfitter, operated from 252 Collins Street from around 1902, then the Flinders Building in Flinders Street from around 1911. In 1920 he was listed in the Eastern Arcade. The Eastern Arcade no longer exists, but ran from Lt Collins Street to Bourke Street in between Russell and Exhibition Streets. In 1922 a Ben Cohen was arrested for running an illegal betting house in the Eastern Arcade, so presumably in was the same man.
Burkby and Waggen: Sale
Frederick James Burby and his son-in-law, Vincent St.Clair Wagglen, took over a tailoring business in Sale in 1923.
Less than 18 months later they dissolved the partnership, with Mr Wagglen continuing alone. There must be a sad tale underlying this, as he only kept the business going for another two years before starting again in Sunshine. This business in turn only lasted for around 3 years. In the following years he was separated from his wife then in 1941 he died at the young age of 50 years.
Capon & Montgomerie, Melbourne:
In 1902 Messers Capon and Montgomerie were delighted to announce their new tailoring store in Collins St. Walter William store has previously managed the Mutal Store.
Norman Leslie Mongomerie, supposedly the best dressed man in Melbourne, died in 1926 aged 55 years. After this the business was sold to Walter Arnold Walker who continued trading under the Capon & Montgomerie name, but had to sell everything to pay his creditors in 1927. After his partner’s death Mr Capon continued as an outfitter until his retirement. He lived in Camberwell and died in 1941.
Charles Anderson and Co. Ltd , Sydney:
Charles Anderson was born in 1838. He came to Australia from Scotland about 1880 with his wife Mary-Jane. He established a large hat factory on the corner of Nicholls and Albion Streets, Surry Hills, next to his home, Durham Hall. The business had it’s beginning a decade pre- federation importing hats and was initially called the ‘New Federal Hat Mills of Sydney’. From as early as 1895 he was described as a “military tailor”. The company was registered as ‘Charles Anderson and Company Limited’ in 1903 and was called ‘Anderson’s Industries Limited’, by the time of his death in 1924. They supplied uniforms, trimming and buttons for the armed forces and police. Examples, like the above one, are found in the Powerhouse Museum and Australian War Memorial collections. Here is an exert from N.S.W. tenders showing orders for buttons from the company in 1910.
Charles Kelso Moore (1834-1894) was an Irishman and merchant who lived in Sydney from 1859 onwards. His business supplied tenders for the public service and Post Office. He was very involved in public life, running as Major for Waverley, as well as being involved in the New South Wales Rifle Brigade and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Clayton and Croucher: South Melbourne
All I can find is that these gentlemen were tailors/clothing manufacturers operating from the corner of Docas and Clarendon Streets, South Melbourne, in about 1925-27.
C.R. Hiam, Balaclava:
Charles Robert Hiam (1855-1924) established his tailoring business in 1887 in Carlisle Street, Balaclava having previously worked for Gissing and Co. He advertised “cricketing and sporting garments made to order” and was at one time “the oldest established tailor in St Kilda.”
C. R. Martin, Melbourne:
Charles Roper Martin (1833-1910) arrived in Melbourne in 1852 on the same ship as my husband’s great-grandfather. In 1885 he established an importing business in Flinders Lane, particularly gold and silver lace. He was a pioneer of the Melbourne Cavalry Troop, and rose to the rank of Commanding officer, retiring with the rank of Major. His interest in military matters extended to importing/manufacturing of military trappings. The button above shows a Queen Victoria crown and was produced for the Queensland Railways. The one below is apparently a Queensland Volunteers uniform button.
Davies & Leon: Melbourne
D. J. Humphreys, Sydney:
Mr D.Humphrey was listed as a tailor in Sydney from around 1863-1883.
E.J. & D. Curran: Bathurst
Edward J. Curran (originally Curren) was originally a cutter for W.G. Ward in Bathurst. He set up his own business, Curran and Taylor, in 1892, then E.J. & D. Curran (with his brother Daniel) in 1895, which was very successful.
This remarkable man went back to school, studying science and law, and worked as a Barrister in Sydney. He then studied medicine, and went on to establish the Opthamologly Department at Kansas University, USA, becoming known as “the miracle man of Kansas”, and was a pioneer in the area of glaucoma. He was also the Professor of Human Anatomy and Physiology at the Kansas University. Not bad for a tailor! He died in 1962.
E.THOMAS Pty.Ltd: St Kilda
Mr Elijah Thomas, tailor and outfitter of Grey Street, St Kilda. According to the information found in http://www.historyaustralia.org.au/ifhaa/bios/elijah.htm , he came from England around 1900. Three generations of his family operated “E.Thomas Pty. Ltd. Mercers and Men’s Ware” from then until 1980.
F. A. Johnson, Richmond:
Frederick Adolph Johnson was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1888. From 1930 he lived in Richmond, moving to Morwell around 1939.
F. Bourne & Son, Adelaide;
Frederick Bourne was born in 1855 in Kent and arrived in South Australia in 1873. He started as a tailor in 1888 in Adelaide, then in Kadina and Moonta before moving back to Adelaide in 1903. One of his 5 sons, a George Horation Bourne worked with his father and continued the business after Fred died of injuries sustained when a train hit the car he and three others were traveling in. (All 4 men died as a result of the crash.)
Gilbert A. Parker: Melbourne
Gilbert Alexander Parker was born in 1897 in Bunbury, West Australia. His family moved to Melbourne after the death of his father. He started work as a tailor’s cutter, progressed to tailor and then manager. In 1929 to 1931 he advertised for sewers and machinists to work at 152 Elizabeth Street, 4th Floor.
Guest & Glover: Melbourne
Guest and Glover were tailors from around 1930-1952, at first on the second floor, The Block, then later at 234 Collins Street.
George Waldrop started his tailoring and mercers business around 1885. It was taken over by Roger David Pty. Ltd. in 1977.
Howes and Howes, Sydney:
Howes and Howes opened in Pitt Street in 1889, and started to be wound up in 1971. One of the original “Howes” was Alfred Howes; the other may have been a brother. His father, George Howes was also a tailor in Sydney from at least 1854, and was considered a father of the trade in that city, having trained or employed many of the city’s tailors. He died in 1909 at the age of 81 years. Alfred was born in Sydney in 1864, and died after surgery for appedicitis in 1919. In his will Alfred left the business to be run as a limited company, with his family and old employees as the founding shareholders.
Hughes & Co: Sydney
Edward Hughes was the owner of this establishment, which operated from Erkine Street, Sydney, from around 1894 to 1931.
Ince Bros., Melbourne:
Richard Ince and his brother Arthur owned this tailoring firm. Richard was born in Collingwood in 1863. Soon after the family moved to Ballarat were his father, Richard senior, was a cutter for L. S. Christie & Co, before going into partnership as ‘Young and Ince’. The sons also worked with this firm. Around 1887 Arthur moved to Geelong and Richard moved to Melbourne. They operated as Ince Bothers, with Richard located in Swanston Street. They would travel to country towns such as Camperdown, Kyneton and Yackandanda to take fittings for suits.
In 1901 their mother died in Ballarat. Richard senior re-married in 1903, at the age of 71 years, to a 25 year old woman in Melbourne. Having married in the afternoon they booked into a hotel. Twenty minutes after retiring, the new bride ran to the manager for help; her husband lying dead in his bed. Oh dear!
J. E. Buchan: Bendgio
John Edward Buchan was born in Melbourne, but moved to Ballarat as a child. He was a tailor situated at “Bath Corner”. In 1885 he partnered with Mr Jackson to form the “Gold Mines Clothing Company”. Several year later Jackson had to retire due to ill health and John continued alone. Unfortunately John contracted pneumonia and died in December of 1897, aged only forty-one years.
Joseph Handle Cutler opened a tailoring shop in Sydney in 1884. It became the tailor to Sydney’s elite, and continues today as a 4th generation family firm of bespoke tailors.
J. J. Scotchmer: Lismore
John James Scotchmer was born in England in 1854. He moved to New South Wales and started tailoring, first in Milton in 1880, then in Nowra from 1883, and then at Woodlark Street, Lismore from 1907. From 1922 his son Randolph Charles Scotchmer (who had worked with Hooper and Harrison) joined him, so the business became J. J. Scotchmer and Son.
J.P.Jorgenson: Marysborough (Queensland)
Julius Peter Jorgenson was the son of a Danish born tailor. He set up as a tailor in Maryborough, Queensland.
Kitchener & Co. Ltd., Sydney:
From 1910 the first version of this company, owned by William Charles Chorley (see also the entry further down page) was named Kitchener Tailoring Co, becoming Kitchener Ltd in 1911. It was a naval and military outfitters in George St, then Hunter Street, Sydney. It existed under this name until at least the 1990s. (Some items are labelled as Sandhurst. Kitchener & Co. Pty. Ltd. )
Leviathan Limited: Melbourne
The Leviathan Limited was a tailoring/retail firm from 1865 until 1972. They built the Leviathan Building on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets in 1912-13, the ground floor of which has been separated into smaller stores since the late 1970s. The firm had a link with another Victorian icon, Fletcher Jones, as Mr David Fletcher Jones was a director of Leviathan Ltd in the 1950s.
Lincoln Stuart & Co. Pty Ltd.: Melbourne
Francis (Frank) Stuart lived 1844 -1910. He was apprenticed to a draper in Sydney, but as he eloped with his bosses’ daughter, he high-tailed it to Melbourne in 1866. He worked for McIvor & Lincoln, and on the death of McIvor in 1889 the company was registered as Lincoln Stuart & Co. ltd. In 1885 they were contracted to supply uniforms for the NSW Sudan regiment. The Australian War Memorial has a doublet from a uniform of the Victorian Scottish Regiment (circa 1900) and Museum Victoria has a straw boater hat from the company. The company was taken over by John Snow & Co. Ltd in 1926, but traded under this name until at least 1951. See more in his biography; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stuart-francis-frank-8704
London Stores Limited: Melbourne
Frank Samuel Meyers (1869 -1931) established this tailoring firm in Adelaide in 1896. He expanded to Melbourne, Launceston, Hobert, Colac and Castlemaine and publicly listed the company in 1911. Franks’s son Valleck continued the business after his father’s death. They made uniforms during WW2.
Louis Epstein & Company: Melbourne
Louis Aaron Valentine Epstein was born in England in 1879. His family emigrated to Melbourne in 1889. Of his ten children three sons, Keith, Phillip and Garth, joined his tailoring business which was located in Epstein House, 133 Flinders Street, Melbourne. They maintained the firm until retiring, gaining a reputation as bespoke tailors as well as uniform and equestrian clothing manufacturers (they supplied Victorian police uniforms). The firm was the first importers and retailers of Levi Strauss jeans in Australia.
Lowes: Sydney and Newcastle
Founded in 1898 as W. Lowe and Company, tailors and outfitters, and still trading as a chain of men’s, boys’ and school wear stores. In 1911 it was formed into Lowes. It existed as a single store until expanding in 1948.
L. Sullivan: Euroa
In 1919-1920 Laurence Sullivan advertised his tailoring shop in the former E.T. Stammers (also country tailors) store.
Lunn & Holmes Pty. Limited: Shepparton
In 1922 Arthur Lunn and Tom Holmes, who had previously worked for John Zimmerman’s tailoring concern in Maryborough, established their own business in Shepparton at 170 Wyndham Street. They prospered and listed the company in 1929. Tragically, Mr Lunn died suddenly of a seizure whilst driving his car. He was only 47 years at the time. The company continued until 1958.
Mark and Philip, Ballarat:
These tailors operated from bridge Street, Ballarat in the 1930-1950s.
Marks & Kent, Melbourne:
Marks & Kent first advertised in Melbourne newspapers in 1884. Their tailoring and outfitting business was in the “The Little Monster” store, 107 Swanston Street (current site of the Manchester United Building). In 1886 Henry Morris Marks and Albert Samuel Kent ended their partnership with Kent continuing alone, possibly until 1891. He left for West Australia before 1903 and died there in 1916.
Henry (Harry) Morris Marks (Zvi Ben Moshe) became a sharebroker and lived in Albert Park. He died in 1909.
Mather Brothers: Ballarat
James Walter Oliphant Mather, a Scot by birth, was a tailor in Armstrong Street, Ballarat. In 1918, two years before he died, he handed over his business to his sons, Walter Percival, James Lewis and Francis Richard to run as Mather Brothers. James died in 1931 and ‘Perce” retired in 1946. I don’t know if the business continued after this.
Miller’s the Clothiers was an early Ballarat institution. It must have predated 1863, as it issued trade tokens that were banned in Victoria from that year.
Established by Sir James Anderson Murdoch (1867-1939) in 1893, it was claimed to be “the world’s largest store for men and boy’s ware” in 1928. James had previously worked for Hordern’s (see story above). The store still existed after WW2, when was sold to Walton’s.
Newbury & Son: Melbourne
Charles Hyatt Newbury junior, son of Charles Hyatt Newbury senior, grocer, and later his son, Charles Robert Newbury, were mercers and drapers in City Road, Emerald Hill (now South Melbourne) from before 1890 until at least 1922. The next Charles (Renton) Newbury let down the family by becoming an orthodontist.
O’Brien & Earle: Melbourne
Frederick Davidson Earle (1888-1947) and Lorne Alfred O’Brien were tailors in the Manchester Unity Buildings around 1929 to 1956.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 29th May 1931
Palmers (F. J. Palmers and Son’s Ltd) was a menswear department store selling “Everything for Mankind and The Boy”. The photo below, from the 1930s in the NSW State Library collection, shows the store close to Murdoch’s.
Frederick John Palmer was born in 1854 in Bristol, England. He started as a hat manufacturer in Sydney in 1880, then expanded into tailoring and mercery. His son Ernest Albert Palmer would run the Haymarket branch of their business. He died suddenly after a short illness in 1920, at the age of 63 years.
Pike Brothers, Brisbane:
Two English brothers, Edwin and Walter Pike, came to Brisbane in 1883. They established their business, Pike Brothers, in 1885.
They were successful, and opened branches around Queensland, as well as an office in London. In 1956 the firm was bought by the Melbourne outfitters, Leviathan although stores continued to trade under the name ‘Pikes Brothers’, then later ‘Pikes’.
Richard Charles Hagen (1855-1944) worked as a tailor for Farmer’s (see above) before starting his own business in 1880.
R. C. Norman: Melbourne
Richard Charles Norman was born in Middlesex in 1874. He was a tailor in Melbourne from at least 1903 and died in 1943.
R.W. Raby, Melbourne:
Robert William Raby was a tailor and outfitter in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne from at least 1894. Around the years of 1896-1905 his business was known as “Raby and Co.” then he was in partnership with Alexander Wilson as “Raby and Wilson” from around 1909-1913. After that he operated as R.W. Raby until his death in 1939.
Samuel Holden: North Fitzroy
Samuel Holden (1869-1935), then later his son Samuel Garth Holden (1894-1958), were tailors with a shop in Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy. Samuel senior was listed in local directories as a tailor from 1888. It seems he had some employment issues;
Shierlaw & Co., Adelaide:
The Shierlaws were a Scottish family who came to South Australia around 1852. Three bothers, George, William, Joseph then later a nephew, Mr F.B. Shierlaw, ran the tailoring firm of ‘Shierlaw & Company’ from 1860 until around 1920. Shierlaw and Co. were tailors, outfitters and merchants who had a large mail order business. They supplied uniforms for South Australian military forces from around 1877. They also supplied uniforms for the railways, the Cadet Corps and the police. For many years they were the governments sole supplier of uniforms. In 1906 when they opened a new store of “excellent design” in Gisbourne, New Zealand.
Sinclair’s Pty. Limited: Melbourne
Arthur James Sinclair started a tailors and costumers around 1910. It must have been a bit posh as it was known as ‘Sinclair’s of Collins Street’. The business went into liquidation in 1938.
S.J. Dalley, Melbourne:
Samuel John Dalley (1868-1923) operated from the first floor of the Finks Building around 1901-1905.
The Finks Building stood on the corners of Elizabeth and Flinders Streets, opposite the station. It was one of the tallest buildings erected in the boom-time of the 1880s in Melbourne. In 1898 a fire nearly destroyed a whole city block, including this building. It was rebuilt some years later, but the original ornate roofline was not restored. The building was finally demolished in 1960.
Syd Ingerson, Adelaide:
Philip Alfred Sydney Ingerson (known as Syd) was born in South Australia in 1882. He worked for Parker & Co, tailors and outfitters in King William Street, Adelaide. Early in January 1906 he opened a store in Argent Street, Broken Hill known as ‘The Don Tailors’
By around 1923 he had opened a second store back in King William Street, Adelaide and in 1925 established a new company, ‘Ingerson Limited’, with the Adelaide branch trading as ‘Syd Ingerson’.
In 1942 Ingerson Ltd was fined under the ‘Control of Clothing (Male Outerwear) order’ for making a suit with too much material …
The firm moved to Gawler Place in 1953.
T. H. French, Melbourne:
Thomas Henry French was born in Cambridge, England in 1854. I don’t know when he came to Victoria, but he was married here in 1883. In 1916 he was listed as working from 291 Swanston Street. He died in 1917 at the age of 63 years.
William Chorley, tailor, came to Australia from England in 1883. ‘Chorley & Co. Tailor and Robe Maker’ in George Street, Sydney, became renowned and specialised in formal court dress and service uniforms. The firm continued until 1980. See also http://www.bchg.org.au/index.php/en/people/individuals/a-f/56-chorley-w-xxxx
William also ran a military uniform tailoring firm (see Kitchener & Co on this page).
Published in The Sun (Sydney), 29th January 1950.
W.D. Fetherston: Sydney
William Daniel Fetherston, tailor, advertised from 1919. The business was bought by Farmer’s department store in 1930. He died in 1954.
W. Gribbles & Co; Ballarat.
W. Gribbles and Co., tailors, were located at 27 Sturt Street, Ballarat. They used material from the Ballarat Woollen Mills for their expertly cut suits. They bought out an existing business in 1887 and were still trading in 1954.
W. G. Scates: Swanston St. Melbourne
William Gardiner Scates was born in Ballarat East in 1892. He became a tailor with outlets in Swanston Street and also Footscray. He died in 1973.
W. H. Bladwell: Goulburn
William Henry Bladwell, from Bath, Somerset, opened a tailoring establishment in Goulburn in 1882 in conjunction with his father. This firm ran until around 1950.
William Henderson, Sydney:
William Henderson was a warehouseman/merchant whose company, William Henderson & Co., Pitt Street, Sydney, supplied military and government uniforms and buttons by tender in the 1880s to 1890s.
Wiseman Bros., Melbourne:
In the 1880s Albert and Walter ran a business in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, as soft-goods warehousemen. Along with their brother Arthur, they were well regarded as philanthropists.
W. Monckton (a.k.a. Mockton or Moncton), Fitzroy, Melbourne:
Walter was born in Fitzroy in 1856. Around 1870 he was apprenticed as a tailor, and with his brother John continued in this trade until retirement. He first traded from Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, and later in Flinders Street, Melbourne. He emmigrated to Surrey, England some time after 1919 and lived out his years there.
This reference came from a 1913 street directory;
There is a picture of a ‘W. Moncton’ uniform available via Trove:
W. Morrow; Port Pirie
William Morrow was born in Bairnsdale, Victoria in 1872. He became a tailor in Port Pirie
from 1891-1915, when he became a member of the South Australian Parliament until his
death in 1934. He had been a local councillor and mayor in Port Pirie, and was prominent
in the South Australian Churches of Christ.
Woulfe & Son: Brisbane
Patrick Woulfe (1888-1948) set up his tailors establishment in Adelaide Street, Brisbane, in 1913. He was a successful businessman. By 1939 he employed 400 people with outlets in other Queensland cities. The family continued with the business after his untimely death, with it finally being wound up in 1972.