Here we showcase tailoring buttons, from the individual to large emporiums such as The Leviathan. The buttons are listed alphabetically as the names were printed onto the buttons.
R. Clarke, Colac:
Richard Clarke (1866-1937) took over the business of Mr M. Cuskey at 1a Murray Street, Colac.
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.
Rd. Appleton, Horsham:
Richard Harwood Appleton was born in Yorkshire in 1864. He came to Australia in 1883 and originally worked for a firm of engineers before studying tailoring. He moved to Horsham in 1906. In 1924 he traveled back to UK to see family before becoming a grazier for a few years, changing back to tailoring, then becoming a shearing contractor in Harrow! Was he restless or adventurous?
Reg Taylor, Moonee Ponds:
Unfortunately, the only record I could find was of the sale of the business.
R. Finch, Beechworth:
Richard Finch (1830-1910) was one of the earliest settlers of Beechworth. He came to Victoria in 1854, lured by the gold rush. He would set up as a clothier and tailor in Ford Street soon after, and later be joined by his sons, Willie and Richard. After his retirement in 1902 his sons continued the business until at least 1928.
Rosman & Leach, Smith Street:
I cannot find mention of this company. However, there was a James Rosman who was a tailor in Fitzroy, and a T. Leach who was a boot and shoe maker in the same suburb in the 1880s. Smith Street is a famous location in Fitzroy; perhaps they joined forces at some stage?
Update: Toby Billings has found an 1888 reference to this partnership at 343 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Rothwell’s Ltd. Brisbane:
The founder, Thomas James Rothwell, was born in Ealing, Middlesex, in 1869 and first came to Australia in 1883. In 1897 he started the business in his own name, changing it to a limited liability company two years later. In 1909 a serious fire gutted his 5 story building in Edward Street, but he continued several days later in another building until a new premises could be built. In 1926 he retired from active management, and a new company, Rothwell’s Outfitting Limited, was started to takeover the retail side of the business.
Mr Rothwell was awarded an O.B.E. for forming the Transport Corps to transport injured soldiers during WW1. He was active in public areas, including founding “Children’s Day”, where members of the Royal Automotive Society would give orphaned and sick children a picnic and a ride to the beach. He originated the Anzac Memorial Avenue in Brisbane. After his death in 1928 an obelisk to his memory was erected in this Avenue. His business continued for another 60 years after his death.
R. P. Ferguson, Rochester:
Robert Pitts Ferguson’s (1892-1968) parents came to Victoria in 1851 and reached Rochester by 1854. In 1914 he was listed as a draper, but in 1915 in his WW1 enrollment papers he is described as a salesman. Did he think it sounded better?
After the war he is again described as a draper in 1919, then a tailor (and curiously, also a tradesman) in Rochester from 1921 until 1927. He is living in Camberwell as a newsagent in 1928, then in Brighton as a tailor from 1931-1937. During WW2 he re-enlisted, and is described as a soldier in Seymour until 1954. Therefore, the button may date pre WW1, or until 1927.
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.
Sam Jamieson, Ballarat:
Samuel Jamieson (1856-1938) had his tailoring business in Ballarat from 1901 until 1917, when he took up a position with W. H. Bruce Ltd, tailors of Melbourne, as a traveling representative in Tasmania. He had been the secretary of the Victorian Band Association for 9 years. He retired back to Melbourne and died there in 1938.
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;
S. Bowring & Co. Ballarat:
Sydney Bowring had been a cutter for Twentymans when he started in Sturt Street, Ballarat. See http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=11394
However, by 1896 he had relocated to Prahran. Sadly, he died of typhoid in 1898, aged only 38 years.
Shierlaw & Co., Adelaide:
Above: Uniform button of South Australian Contingents to South Africa 1899-1902.
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. Ltd., Melbourne:
See also J. Sinclair.
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 roof-line was not restored. The building was finally demolished in 1960.
S. J. Derrett, Bellinger:
Samuel John Derrett was born in Queensland in 1886. His father, a chemist and optician, moved the family to Sydney around 1900. Sam went into partnership with Claude James as ‘Derrett and James’ from 1911 to 1914, when he moved with the rest of his family to Bowraville, advertising as a ‘tailor, hatter and mercer’. He moved to nearby Bellinger by 1915, although he continued to visit Bowraville professionally once a fortnight. He moved to Sydney for the years 1930-34, but perhaps he didn’t enjoy city life, as he moved back to Nambucca Heads, operating as a storekeeper until he retired around 1958. He died in Coffs Harbour in 1961.
Skurrie & Son, Carlton:
Robert Macombe Sloan (1874-1956) was in partnership as ‘Clarkes & Sloan’ until 1912, then continued as ‘R. M. Sloan’ in Murphy Street, Wangaratta.
Smale Bros, Hobart:
In 1903 Frederick William and John Penwell Smale took over the business of Mr J. R. Johnston in Murray Street, Hobart. Ten years later they opened a flash new store in Collins with electric lighting and with “lavatory provisions (that) are as near perfection as attainable” John died in 1932, aged 66years. Fred died in 1939, aged 62 years. The firm was still running in 1954. The picture below are both from The Mercury newspaper.
Southwell Coultas & Co, Melbourne:
The above indicates the beginning of this high class tailoring firm that would including royalty and other leaders. They started in 1875 Swanston Street, but moved to Collins Street later that year. In May 1881 it was reported that “the shop and land in Collins-street, between Swanston-street and Russell-street, with a frontage of 33ft, in the occupation of Messrs Stokes and Martin, was sold to Messers Scourfield and Coultas for 3712 pounds 10 shillings”. (Presumably this is why Stokes and Martin moved from 100 Collins Street.) Robert Scourfield left the partnership in 1889 to run his own establishment, which however amalgamated with the original firm in 1897 after the death of Mr Southwell Coultas in 1895. (After Mr Coultas death there was an extraordinary court case, with a lady suing his estate for ‘breach of promise’, claiming he wooed her and told her to stop working, when she did not realise he was already married.) Mr Scourfield died in 1909, having retired to Woodend.
The firm traded as ‘Southwell Coultas & Co’ from 1889 until 1896, then as ‘Southwell Coultas Ltd’ it went up for sale in 1909, but continued trading and was registered as Southwell Coultas P/L in 1926. Then from 1962 until 1993 the firm traded as Southwell Coultas and Co. P/L.Therefore, this button dates from 1889-1897.
S. Solcberg & Son, Melbourne:
Polish born Samson Solcberg (1821-1882) was in Melbourne from 1854. He had a period of insolvency in 1858. In 1861 his only daughter Freda married Ferninand Ehrmann. He made his son-in-law a business partner, and changed the name to S.Solcberg & Son, which is touching.
In 1873 they built a large new warehouse in Flinders lane east.
Samson’s health was not good, and in 1868 he had been forced to retire, leaving the business running under the control of his son-in-law. However, he must have rejoined the firm, as in 1877 he took sole control of the firm whilst Ehrmann was overseas. Unfortunately he was again insolvent by 1880. (This resulted in him being bashed by a man he owed money to.) He died in 1882, aged only 62 years.
S. S. & S. Melbourne:
Someone and son?
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. Dunstan, Castlemaine:
Thomas Henry Dunstan (1866-1936) worked for Mr Christian Duus, in Hargreaves Street, Castlemaine, from 1882. On his death in 1888 Thomas took over the business. He remained there until around 1913 when he moved his family to Clifton Hill, a suburb of Melbourne.
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.
Walter Ernest Thurling ( 1898-1933) and William Herdam Hamilton (1864-1917) traded at 45 Elizabeth Street from around 1895-1912. After that, Walter worked for Southwell Coultas, another Melbourne tailoring establishment, whilst William changed career and worked as a traveling salesman.
Tippett & Clemence, Ballarat:
In August 1885 “the tailoring and outfitting business of the late Mr A. Lewis, in Stuart Street, will in future, we are informed, be carried on by two of the deceased gentleman’s employees, they having purchased it. The new firm will consist of Messers Tippett and Clemence, both sons of well known residents of Ballarat.” These men were George Francis Tippett and Edward Treganza Clemence. In 1890 the partnership was dissolved as Edward was in poor health. He died sooner after at the age of only 25 years. Tippett continued alone until 1895 when he went into partnership as an undertaker with the firm of Jordan and Tippett. He died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 54 years.
T. O’Farrell, Wagga Wagga:
Thomas Joseph (Tom) O’Farrell was a tailor at 112 Baylis Street from 1923. Unfortunately he died suddenly from pneumonia in 1935, aged only 56 years. His brother “Dick” took over and continued tailoring at the same address until 1953. Tom is remembered as a keen sportsman. He was involved in cricket, rugby, athletics and shooting. He is best remembered for starting the O’Farrell Cup in 1925, a competition that continues today.
Twentyman & Stamper were established around 1858 at 23 Bridge Street, Ballarat. When Thomas Stamper retired in February 1878 the partnership between Stamper and John Twentyman was dissolved, with John continuing alone as ‘ J. Twentyman, The People’s Tailor”. He died in 1899, aged seventy, his son Thomas inheriting and continuing the business under the same name. He had been born in Exter, England, came come to Victoria in 1854. He was remembered as a benevolent and charitable man. The business was succeed in 1909 by ‘Brown and Morris’.
T. Woodcock, Brisbane:
Thomas Woodcock, born in Lancashire in 1832, arrived in Brisbane in 1863. He was in partnership with Peter Phillips until 1877. Although he died in 1905, his firm continued until around 1924, moving from Albert Street to the new Fitzroy Buildings in Adelaide Street in 1913. I don’t know who continued under his name, as all his sons had died, and his daughters remained unmarried.
W. Adam & Sons, Maryborough:
William Anderson Adam was born in Glasgow in 1833. He came to Melbourne in 1864 then reached Queensland by 1864. He settled in Maryborough in 1874. In 1881 he started a drapers store with partners Messrs Bailey and Bartholomew. In 1886 he continued alone as “Glasgow House Drapers”, presumably named after his home town. On the first of January 1902 he welcomed two of his sons, Charles Henry (1884-1934) and Samuel Bettison (1868-1934), into partnership. The next year he died, aged 69 years. Although Charles and Samuel both died in 1934, the business was still in operation in 1947.
W. Balfour, Genelg:
Walter James Balfour(1888-1961) moved around quite a bit. After leaving the employ of William Bros he partnered with Alfred Ray Norman as ‘Balfour & Norman’ in 1914-15 in King William Street, Adelaide, before working for L.S. Starr in Glenelg from 1916.
In 1920 he started on his own Glenelg working from Moseley Street, then in 1923 Jetty Road, then in 1929 in Piere St, then in 1929 Rundle Street then a detour to Broken Hill in 1930 before going back to Jetty Road in 1931. He moved to Whyalla from 1940-49 then on to Port Augusta. Therefore the button dates c. 1920-1940.
W. Beckefeld, Albert Park:
From 1921 until circa 1933, the premises of William Frederick Beckefeld’s tailoring business was in Bridport Street, Albert Park.
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. Colyer, Adelaide:
William Colyer (1864-1933) took over his father’s business in 1891.
His father, George (1822-1897) had arrived in Adelaide in 1857 and operated as a tailor in King William Street at several locations. Around 1910, William moved to Pirie Street. He advertised at that location until 1924.
W. Croft, Wollongong
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. Gribble & Co, Ballarat:
W. Gribble 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.
Myles Pennington Whiteside, born in Lancaster, England in 1831, arrived in Melbourne in 1854 and moved to Ballarat the following year. He opened his own tailoring and general mercery establishment in Ballarat in 1865. In 1867 he was described as a military tailor. Around 1891 his son Norman Ernest Whiteside joined the firm, now called Whiteside and Son, then after his death in 1908, Whiteside’s.
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.
William Young, Ballarat:
William Young took over the firm of J. Payne & Co in 1903 in Sturt Street, the Beehive store. He died in 1924, aged only 50 years.
Williams & Weller, Dandenong:
A total mystery. There is no sign of them online!
Wills & Co, Adelaide:
G. & R Wills & Co were a major softgoods wholesaler in South Australia started by brothers George (1824-1906) and Richard Wills ( 1829-1862). Richard arrived in Adelaide in 1849 with some drapery, and set up a store. They moved to Rundle Street in 1853. George returned to England in 1859 to manage the purchasing for the company, leaving the Australian end of the business under the care of other partners. Unfortunately, Richard died in 1862 of typhoid. His son Kenneth would join the firm after discharge from the army in 1919. He would restructure the company, leading it through the Great depression years.
By 1922 the company had branches in Melbourne, Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorie, Broken Hill as well as agencies in Brisbane and Sydney. In 1946 the firm was listed publicly and are still trading as wholsalers.
The photos from the State Library of South Australia’s collection.
Wilsons’, Sturt St. Ballarat:
Mahlon Stacey Wilson (1871-1951) was in a partnership, Purser and Wilson’ from around 1897-1904. Wilson continued on alone from the 79 Sturt Street store, moving to 209 Sturt Street by 1910. He remained a batchelor, leaving his estate to a bother, Lewis John Wilson, also a draper. The store ceased to advertise in 1924.
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. J. Armstrong, Warrnambool:
Unfortunately, only 4 years of local newspapers from Warrnambool are available on Trove, so all I know is that Mr Armstrong moved from Kepler Street to Liebig Street in 1918.
W. Lucas, Adelaide:
Willie Lucas, 1870-1931, came back from London with his first class diploma to run his business from Grenfell Street. He was involved with teaching and examining tailoring, and the treasurer for the Master Tailors’ Association. He sold the firm as a going concern in 1915, the new owners keeping the name until 1920.
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.
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;
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.
Wm Young, Ballarat;
See above entry for William Young.
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.
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.
W. R. A. Clarke, Rockhampton:
William Robert Archerbald Clarke (1894-1972) had a tailoring store in Williams Street, Rockhampton, from around 1920 until 1932. He moved to larger premises at 39 East Street and was still advertising in 1949. He was an alderman of the city council for many years, and a keen lawn bowler.
A ladies’ and gentlemen’s tailor in Mitchell Street from 1910-1917.
W. T. Walsh, Ararat
William Thomas Walsh moved from Hamilton in 1882 to Ararat where he was a tailor and outfitter until his business became bankrupt in 1892. He was the manager for the Palace tailoring Company in Wangaratta from around 1900-1904, after which he moved to Melbourne. He became the head cutter for Messers Davies, Deery & Co, and died in 1935.