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.
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
By 1896 he had relocated to Prahran. Sadly, he died of typhoid in 1898, aged only 38 years.
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. The firm folded when Joseph Craig Shierlaw retired in 1920.
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.
S. J. Woods, Melbourne
Samuel James Woods was a tailor who arrived in Adelaide in 1888, the moved to Melbourne in 1891. From around 1891- 1922 he worked in the Australian Buildings at 44 Elizabeth Street. He travelled to the country, servicing places such as Wagga, Cobrum, Numurkah and Benalla.
From 1905-1922 he formed a partnership with William Peter Manson (1871-1941). After the partnership finished, he again traded under the name S. J. Woods, moving to Collins Street.
See the entry for W. P. Manson & Co, Melbourne
The button therefore either dates from 1891-1905 or 1922 to around 1931. (He was still advertising in 1931.) He died in 1943.
Celebrity note: The home were Gough Whitlam was born in 1916 was sold by the Whitlam’s to Samuel Woods and his wife in 1917.
Skurrie & Son, Carlton:
Joseph Skurrie (1855-1927) worked from 267 Lygon Street from 1879. His son Archibald Henry Skurrie (1882-1958) continuing unit at least 1935.
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” The firm was still running in 1954.
Sol Davis, Melbourne
This hat pin is an example of “sweetheart jewellery” when a uniform button is fashioned into a brooch or hat pin, to honor your man in uniform.
Solomon (Solly) Davis was a tailor born in Melbourne in 1881. After marrying in 1902 he moved to Sydney for 18 months then returned to Melbourne where he lived with his long suffering wife in several locations. During 1906-08 he styled himself as a importer. From 1911-1919 he was listed as a clothing manufacturer at 41 Russell, then 24 Russell, then 353 Lonsdale Streets. He started “Carter’s Pty Ltd”, drapers, tailors and furriers, in 1927 with Solomon Lyons. The two listed a new firm in 1929, Sol Davis Pty Ltd in Carlton. They were soon being sued £500 for rent, and being denied the Trademark “Bond”, as being too similar to “Bonds” which was already in use. When he lost a government clothing contract ‘Sol Davis Pty ltd’ clothing manufacturers went into liquidation in 1931. It was not the first time he had been bankrupt, having previously manufactured clothing in Sydney where he had lost money on racehorses and business speculation. His wife sued for divorce on the grounds of infidelity and desertion in 1932.
He was fined in 1898 for trying to avoid paying duties and in 1924 for not paying staff according to the award. I don’t know what became of him after 1932.
Southwell Coultas & Co, Melbourne
The beginning of this high class tailoring firm that would including royalty and other leaders was known as Scourfield and Coultas. They started in 1875 in 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”. 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.
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? S. Solcberg & Son as above?
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’
T. G. Brown & Son, Adelaide
Thomas Gattey Brown (1813-1884) welcomed his son, T.G. junior, into his business, and opened new premises.
In 1897 T. G. Brown & Son was taken over by the firm of Mackintosh & Co, who was in turn taken over by E. Lucas & Co in 1903. The firm had made uniforms for many services, including South Australian Volunteer Forces, Military Band, Telegraph Department, the Police and Customs Departments.
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.
Thos Bourke, Launceston
Thomas Bourke (1846-1924) had a tailors, mercers and hatters establishment in Brisbane Street, Launceston from 1881 through to 1952.
Thurling & Hamilton, Melbourne
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. J. Miljoen & Co. Melbourne
Mr Theodore John Miljoen operated at 204 Collins Street from at least. He and his family appear to have arrived in Melbourne in 1909. They lived in Brisbane from at least 1910 until 1915 before returning to Melbourne.
T. L. Nicholson, Sydney
Mr Thomas Lovedale Nicholson( 1831-1891) was a Naval, military and civil tailor in Kings Street. He was born in Paramatta who had been “a bit of a bohemian” before joining the Independant Order of Good Templars (a temperance organisation) around 1877 and straightening himself out. This lodge seems to have been politically active. Tom became an alderman then mayor of Ashfield. Perhaps it was the influence of the Order that secured him large government contracts. He had a large family of 13 children (11 who were alive in 1881) and had been a keen cricketer.
He had a mixed career as a business man. In he a failed foray into mining. In 1867, as a cordial manufacturer in Dubbo, he was insolvent. Back in Sydney by 1875 as a tailor he was again insolvent in 1876, then again in 1884. He died 21st July, 1891.
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.
Vereys operated as “tailors for men who care” from around 1909. In 1929 they moved across the road to new premises. The business closed down in 1953.
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.
W. Butler, Port Melbourne
William John Butler (1869-1932) commenced in Bay Street in 1898 as a tailor and later also as a mercer, until at least 1914. When he died in 1932 he was remembered as a champion bowler, and as a lodge member.
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 opened a store Canberra, and phased out the Sydney store. His son Henry, then grandson Eric continued with the firm until 1980, when his grandson retired. The business was sold to Neville Stuart and Santo Lagana. 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).
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
William Croft started tailoring in Wollongong around 1854.
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. D. Kewley, Melbourne
See also Kewley & Millsom.
After the partnership of Kewley & Millsom was dissolved (see post 27th March 2017), William David Kewley continued to work from the Empire Arcade, off Flinders Street, from 1914 until around 1942. Born in 1879 in Emerald Hill (now Richmond), he was a keen golfer. he died in 1955.
W. D. Ramage, Bendigo
See R. Ramage.
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. 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.
Wheeler Ltd., Adelaide
In 1910 Mr Walter Harrison Wheeler (1881-1944) came from Victoria and together with his brother Louis Winslow Wheeler (1878-1943), started a tailoring and mercery store in Grenfell Street. In 1917 they purchased the established firm of William Bros at 12 King William Street, Adelaide which seems to have been used for their ladies’ tailoring department, whilst they had men’s wear stores at North terrace and Hindley Street.
W. Hillier, Mt Gambier
William Hillier was a tailor in Mount Gambier from at least 1871 until 1881.
Whitelock & Carter, Bendigo
In 1908 partners Horace Egbert George Whitelock (1881-1923) and Gordon Carter (1885-1965) started tailoring at View Street, Bendigo. As greater room was needed, they moved to Pall Mall. During the war they were required to provide uniforms. In 1918 they built larger premises. Horace’s father John was working with them, as was Mr L. Makepeace. The firm was still in business after Whitelock’s death until at least 1925.
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.
Wilkins & Jones, Bendigo
In 1889 James Berriman Wilkins (1863-1937) and John James Jones (1860-1939), both late of Cahill’s tailoring, started their partnership, “The “Busy Bee”, first in High street then from 1912, Charing Cross, Bendigo.
In 1915 the partnership dissolved with Wilkins continuing as ‘J. B. Wilkins’. He had lived all his life, except for a short while in Echuca, in Bendigo. Wilkins was still listed as a tailor in 1936, the year before he died. He had been a native of Cornwall.
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!
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 Wiseman ran a business in Flinders, Melbourne, as soft-goods warehousemen. Along with their brother Arthur they were well regarded as philanthropists.
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. J. Jackson, Bendigo
William Jabez Jackson was born in Chester, England, and came to Castlemaine with his family in 1857. He worked as a tailor in Castlemaine and Bendigo, before retiring from business and moving to Melbourne for a few years. Perhaps life in Melbourne didn’t suit him, as he returned to Bendigo in 1892 and opened a new tailoring store in Hargreaves Street.From 1895-1899 he was in partnership with one of his sons, as W. J. Jackson & Son, then continuing on his own.
He died in 1911, aged only 60 years of heart failure, with Mr Robert C George buying his business.
W. Johns, Brisbane:
William Johns was born in Cornwall, England in 1867. He had come to Queensland by 1894, and by 1905 was living in Edwards Street, Brisbane. In 1906 “W. Johns & Co”, drapers, bought the business of Sidle & Co, and were located at the corner of Edwards and Queen Street. By now they described themselves as an Emporium. In 1908 they had expanded to a “department store” although it was in reality a large drapery. There were a men’s, fancy goods, toys, milinery and ready-made costume “departments”. In 1913 the company purchased the business of Edward Shields Ltd, and were calling the store “the Crystal Emporium” In 1923 they opened a second store at Fiveways, Woolloongabba, called “The Fiveways Supply Store”. The Queens Street store was being advertised for sale as an ongoing concern mid 1929, with the Fiveways store later the same year. Perhaps William was retiring? He died in 1942.
W. Koska, Bendigo
Mr Koska worked at “The Beehive” before moving to Mitchell Street in 1909 As a “ladies’ and gentlemen’s tailor” he was there until at least 1935.
W. Lowe & Co., Sydney
William Lowe came to Australia around 1889. He started in 1899 as a hat and mercery importer and manufacturer in Oxford Street, with just two employees. Prior to this he had worked at Gowing Bros., and Mark Foy’s.
They soon expanded next door. Another sign of success was the registering of a trademark, and expansion into outfitting.
They continued to expand, purchasing a four storey building in George Street in 1903, then extended to next door in 1904. That year they opened a footwear department and started mail order.
For the first anniversary of the George St store, every 25th customer received his or her money back! By 1905 over 300 people were employed by the firm. In 1906 the Oxford Street branch became exclusively for ladies apparel, and the George Street store for boys and menswear. By 1907 they no longer traded in ladies wear, “owing to the great growth of their tailoring, hat, and ready-to-wear clothing for men and boys. The George St building had a four storey expansion started in 1910. In 1911 the business was registered as a company, Lowe’s Ltd. The business extended to Newcastle in 1916.
‘Bill’ Lowe died of pneumonia in August 1936, aged 61 years. The business then comprised eleven stores and employed more than one thousand people. He was a well liked boss who had promoted better wages for retail staff.
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. Mayger, Broken Hill
Mr William Frederick Mayger worked as a tailor in Broken Hill from 1898. In 1906 he bought the business of Mr C. Painton. He retired to Sydney in 1933 and died in 1936, and was remembered as a keen member of the Druid’s Order, the Mason’s Lodge and the Friendly Society.
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
This is a rare button believed to be from the Castlemaine Fire Brigade.
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 1885, in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, and later from around 1899 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. From 1891-1915 he was a tailor in Port Pirie, South Australia. After that he was a member of the South Australian parliment until his death in 1934. He had been the mayor in Port Pirie and was prominent in the South Australian Churches of Christ.
Wm Young, Ballarat
See above entry for William Young.
See H. J. L. Worthley, Hindmarsh on the tailoring pages.
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.
W. Small, Germanton
In 1894 William Small and William Carr Low set up in business in Germanton as ‘Small and Low’. In 1900 they moved to a new brick shop near the intersection of Young and Albury Streets, Albury. There was also a branch in Newtown. In 1912 Mr Small bought out his partner, and continued as ‘W. Small’ in Dean Street, Albury.
His son, William Ambrose Small, born in Germanton in 1900, was also a tailor, then later a grazier. Presumably the above button dates prior to the partnership with W. Low in 1894.
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.