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.
Mackenzie & Dunstan, W.A.
In 1905 the local newspaper reported that the new store of this partnership between Frederick Dunstan and Charles Mackenzie, only just erected, had blown down in a storm.
In 1910 Charles left the partnership, travelling to see family in Victoria, then to take an extended holiday.
Mackintosh & Co, Adelaide
Donald Macqueen Mackintosh (1857-1935) came to South Australia from Moy, Scotland around 1890.
In 1897 the firm purchased and merged with the tailoring firm of T. G. Brown. It continued under the original name until 1903, when Donald moved to Melbourne and the firm was renamed E. Lucas & Co. Donald worked Melbourne for Holle, then on his own; he also opened a branch in Perth. He was still operating in Melbourne in 1923.
William Arthur Maguire (1870-1942) lived his whole life in the one house Singleton, NSW. He joined his father John working as a tailor on leaving school. When he died at the age of 72 years, it was the end of 86 years of the family business working from the one store. His father had come to Australia in 1856 from Ireland.
Mark & 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 share broker and lived in Albert Park. He died in 1909.
Mason & Culley, Williams Town
This is an old Water Police button featured in the Victorian Button Collectors 2015 magazine. The backmark is MASON & CULLEY WILLIAMS TOWN. The partnership lasted only from the 1st July 1852 until the 1st November 1854 when they were described as Auctioneers and General Dealers.
Thomas Mason (1823-1896) came to the colony in 1841. He was one of Melbourne’s earliest Justice of the Peace and would become Williamstown’s first mayor. Benjamin Culley was born in Norfolk, England in 1824 and came to the colony in 1848. He left Williamstown in 1860-61. He ran stores in Talbot, Amherst, Talbot, Albury then Urana. Until his 94th year he was still in business! He died at Urana in 1921 at the age of 96 years.
Mather Bros, 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.
Hopetoun Couier and Malle Pioneer, 23rd August 1918 page 3. I was unable to find advertising for Mathers Bros.
M. A. Wilks, Maitland
This business of Mrs Mary Ann Wilks (1832-1913) started around 1867. She was a widow, so perhaps that is why she ran a business to support her family. In 1893 her son , Mr Charles Edward Eckersley Wilks (1863-1933), took over managing the business.
In 1894 they provided the uniform for the Town Ranger, and in 1900 the uniforms for the West Maitland Fire Brigade. When Mrs Wilks died in 1913 at the age of 81 years, her son decided to retire to Sydney.
Mc Cowan & Co, Broken Hill
Charles M’Cowan came to Adelaide from South Africa around 1880 and worked with James Marshall & Co there until 1885. He then came to broken Hill to enter into partnership with an old friend, Mr Peter Morrison (see below). After the partnership dissolved, he continued alone in the premises later occupied by ‘Don tailors’ (see above). The business was bankrupt in 1906 and the stock sold in 1907. He left the district and died in 1915.
McDonald & Walter, Adelaide
In 1882 Charles Walter joined in partnership with George McDonald in Rundle Street. He was born in Somersetshire in 1844 and had arrived in Adelaide in 1874.
In 1908 the partnership dissolved, with Walter continuing as ‘Charles Walter & Sons’ in Rundle Street. His sons would continue in the business after his death in 1913. McDonald operated as G. McDonald & Co. at ‘The White House” 88 King William Street.
McIvers & Smith, Perth
Joseph McIver and William John Smith operated from Howick Street from 1894-1900. Thomas McIver appears to have then gone into business with a new partner, a Mr Joseph Mordern. This partnership dissolved in 1909, the business continuing as McIver & Co. Mr McIver died in 1917.
M. Colgan, Bendigo
Michael Colgan was born around 1837 in County Clare and came to Victoria in 1851. His father and grandfather had also been tailors. He arrived in Bendigo around 1878. Working at first for Moffatt & Kitson, then the Taylor Bros before starting ‘Star Tailors’ in 1887.
He stopped using the name Star around 1898. Michael had been a volunteer with artillery units for nearly 21 years, retiring from service in1884 with the rank of sergeant. On his death in December 1908 his sons John and Albert, who had been working with him for over 20 years, took over the business under the same name until around 1916.
McPherson, Callander Pty. Ltd.
Alexander McPherson had run a tailoring business since 1908. The partnership with Roy Milton Callander (1892-57) ran from 1918 until 1952.
Alex Miller, born 1841 in Scotland, was originally part of a partnership called Stalker and Miller from 1871 in the Lang’s Building, Ballarat. He continued on his own from 1881. In 1894 Alex Miller “the well known tailor and outfitter of Bridge Street” took his sons Thomas C. and E. A. Miller into the business, changing the name to ‘Alex Miller & Sons” In 1918 the firm, now known as “Millers, The Clothiers’ was listed on the stock exchange. The sons continued the firm under the same name after Alex’s death at 58 years in 1899.
Frederick James Miller moved from South Australia to Bunbury, West Australia, around 1895, starting a tailoring establishment, Miller’s London Tailoring Depot, in Victoria Street, Bunbury. His son Leslie Gordon Miller (1897-1965), tailor, enlisted on the 25th July, 1915, returning to Australia and tailoring in 1917, having been wounded and suffering shell shock. Eventually, his son Esmond Gordon Miller (1920-1993) also joined the firm.
The firm was still in existence in 1949.
M. Joseph, Melbourne
Maurice Joseph (Moshe Ben Yosef Rafael HaLevi) was born in London in 1862. He arrived in Melbourne around 1887 and established a tailoring business in 1892. Trading as ‘Marks, Joseph & Co’ at Little Collins Street, a partner absconded with 80 pounds of goods in 1894, leaving him insolvent. By 1895 he was working from Bourke Street. He must have been more successful, because in 1907 he needed to move to a larger premise at 137 Swanston Street. He was also a director for his brother Louis’s firm, “Trucut Clothing”. He died in St Kilda in 1947.
M. Justine, Albury
Mr Mathew Justice (1830-1898) was already working as a tailor in Dean Street, Albury from around 1860. In 1897 a fire badly damaged his two-story building. He died of a stroke in 1898, being described as “one of the oldest residents of the Albury district.” He had “imported all his own goods, (had) two large workshops and retained twelve hands, but employ(ed) no female labour.” Two of his sons, Alex ( 1863-1920) and Harry (1870-1907), were also tailors.
M. Kino Melbourne
Mondola Henry Kino was born in Poland in 1850. From 1891 until this death in 1914 he was a tailor at 223 Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Here is another button from either this tailor, or his son, Albert Edward Kino, who was also a tailor in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Albert worked with his father from at least 1896, and continued the business after his father’s death until at least 1939.
M. O’Grady, Geelong
Michael O’Grady was employed by Thomas Flynn in Geelong. In 1878, along with Mr Butter as a partner, he acquired the stock of his late employer and continued to run a drapers store in Moorabool Street. In 1881 Mr Butters left the partnership and Michael continued until 1893, when he nearly died from the effects of chloroform given during a painful operation. By 1874 he had sold the store. He moved to Rutherglen the following year, where he re-entered the drapery business. His favourite cat, unhappy at the move, walked back to Geelong to the old home, travelling 214 miles in 4 days!
Moubray, Rowan & Hicks
Thomas Moubray came to Melbourne in 1848, and worked for William Williamson in his “new drapery and general outfitting establishment” at 45 Collins Street. In 1853 he bought the business with partner Joseph Lush to form “Moubray & Lush”. In 1878, after the retirement and death of various business partners, the firm became “Moubray, Rowan and Hicks” . The business moved soon after to 350 Collins Street.
After Moubray’s death the firm traded as “Hicks, Atkinson & Sons” from 1892 until around 1948, then Hicks Atkinson until 1967.
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.
Musgrave & McKenzie, Lithgow
Thomas “Tom” Musgrave was born in Tasmania in 1866. He served in the Boer War, then came to Lithgow around 1911. He and William Michael McKenzie (1880-1963) worked for L. Levine, buying the business in 1917.
N/C & Sub. Co-op Soc. Ltd.
The Newcastle & Suburban Co-operative Society was set up in 1898.
It operated in Hunter Street, and was locally known as ‘The Store’. It provided retail (including a mercery department), food, insurance, credit union and other services until it’s closure in 1981.
For an interesting history of the Store, see https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/95210
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.
Norman Stanley Ince, Geelong
Norman Ince and partner Thomas Robert Balfour bought the ABC Tailoring Company, Geelong, in 1910 and operated as Ince & Balfour. In 1912 the partnership was dissolved. Norman continued alone. He moved within Geelong a couple of times and was still trading in 1952.
O. A. Plunkett, Parade Norwood
Oliver Ambrose Plunkett (1870-1941) advertised his tailoring from 1894 to 1914 in the Parade, Norwood. Olly was a cricketer, footballer, athlete, and member of the Druid’s Lodge.
O’Brien & Earle, Melbourne
Frederick Davidson Earle (1888-1947) and Lorne Alfred O’Brien were tailors in the Manchester Unity Buildings from 1928 to 1936. In that year O’Brien & Earle Pty. Ltd. was wound up. However, the firm was rebirthed and continued until 1999 or later.
Mr Earle had been head cutter at Leviathan Ltd.
O’Neill & Co., Sydney
Michael O’Neill was a master tailor in Sydney. In 1843 he moved to King Street then in 1844 to Bridge Street. In 1847 he was planning to leave Sydney due to ill health, but if so, he soon returned as he advertised as he recommenced business in 1848. He advertised as “M. O’Neill & Co., Outfitters and Tailors” at 555 George Street (opposite Bridge Street) until 1855, and died in 1856.
From 1853 there was advertised the tailors “O’Neill & Ross” then later “O’Neill & Co” in Lower George Street. This was James O’Neill, possibly a relative (?son). There is a connection with the O’Neill’s of Maitland, New South wales, where another James O’Neill ran a draper’s store in the 1860s. It is therefore likely that the button came from the business belonging to James.
Palmers (F. J. Palmers and Son Ltd) was a menswear department store selling “Everything for Mankind and The Boy”. Mr Palmer founded the firm in 1880.The photo below, from the 1930s in the NSW State Library collection, shows the store close to Murdoch’s. Mr Palmer founded the firm in 1880.
Parker & Geertz, Ipswich
See also T. J. Geertz
Peapes & Shaw/Peapes & Co, George Street, Sydney
In 1866 George Peapes (1838-1898) and William Shaw (1835-1915) bought the business of Michael Goulston at 355 George Street. Shaw retired in 1891, with Peapes taking over. In 1898 Mr Peapes died, and later that year the firm became a limited company.
As business increased over the years the premises became too small, so in 1905 it underwent a major refurbishment. The follow photos were published in The Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser on the 13th September, 1905 page 678.
In 1915 there were plans to raze the building and rebuild, as it was still too small, but this was delayed due to the War. The new building was opened in 1923. This was located opposite to the site of the original business.
P. Goudie, Port Adelaide
Peter Goudie was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1857, coming to Adelaide in 1881. He worked first with Messrs. Jones Brothers, then with J. T. McLean. He began his own business in Commercial Road, Port Adelaide in 1889, after a period in partnership with Mr R. H. Samuel. He became ill late in 1924, and died a year later, aged 68 years. Peter Goudie was remembered as a well-liked, hard working handicapper for the Port Adelaide Racing Club. He had also been a bowler, a local councillor, and Freemason. As a councillor, he had been instrumental in getting electric trams for Port Adelaide. See also Geo. C. Goudie (his son).
Phillips/B. Phillips, Pitt Street only
In 1897 in Newcastle Mr B. Phillips “The Record Tailor” started his tailoring business. In 1906 he moved to Sydney to take over the business of Hagan brothers in Pitt Street. He would advertise as “the House of Phillips” at “Pitt Street only”, hence the legend on the buttons.
In 1918 the business was merged with another tailoring business to become Verey-Phillips.
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’.
Plummer’s & Co/ Plummers Melbourne
Edwin Thomas Plummer (1861-1959) was possibly a poor business man, and definitely dodgy! Working at 146 Swanston Street from 1895, with a Mr Gardiner in 1897 at least, he also had a South Melbourne store which had to closed due to insolvency in 1901. He continued in Swanston Street, using the name “Plummer & Co.” from 1898-1913 then “Plummer’s” in advertising from 1913 until 1930. In 1935 he was once again insolvent. In court in 1936 it was asked a to how he could not have known had financial problems since 1930. He claimed he never asked, and never checked or read his accounts; he just signed off on everything given to him! None the less, his bankruptcy was discharged the following year in 1937.
P. Morrison, Broken Hill
Peter Morrison worked as a tailor on his own after a previous partnership. This was from around 1890 until 1918. He retired to Adelaide, but the business retained his name until around 1925.
Pool & Williams, Bendigo
This button dates from a narrow time frame. In January 1892 Alfred Morris Pool (1857-1916) and Joseph Thomas Williams started their business in the premises previously occupied by the “London and American Clothing Company” in Mitchell Street, Sandhurst (later Bendigo). In February 1994, Williams left to go to Sydney, whilst Pool continued under the name “A. M. Pool”.
(see also A. M. Pool)
Perry & Core, Sydney
What are you to do if the business you work for fails? Start your own! The gentlemen were William Henry Perry (1841 -1918) and Archibald Core (1857-1913)
The business survived through many changes of address and owners, as well as ongoing disputes with the tailors’ union, including a strike that lasted several years.
A little over one year since commencing, they moved to 70 Hunter Street. In 1893 they moved to 323 George Street, then in 1898 to 327 George Street. They moved again to Norwich Chambers, Hunter and Bligh Streets in 1912. By 1922 they were situated in Elizabeth Street. (See below).
In 1913 Mr Core died, aged only 56 years. William Henry and son Henry John Perry (1884 – 1941) continued under the same name. When William died in 1918, he was reportedly a wealthy man. From 1922 until 1931 Alfred George Plowright joined as a partner. After the death of ‘Harry’ Perry, Constance Margaret Ethel Gallon and Ewart Reginald Lloyd took over the firm. Mr Lloyd continued alone after 1946, by which time the address was Watson House, Bligh Street. They stopped advertising in 1949.
Price & Co, Sydney
Price and Co were tailors from 1878 at 114 King Street, Sydney, then from 1915 at 329 George Street. The article below shows they did military work.
The company was started as woollen importers and merchant tailors by Richard Atkinson Price and his brother Thomas Atkinson Price. The brothers were both involved in mining and politics. Richard died in 1936, aged 71 years. Tom died of pneumonia in 1922 at the age of 60 years.
In 1906 the company was bankrupt, but it must have survived because in 1917 they were proud to be flicking the switch of their new, Australian invented air-gas lighting plant at the store. The company may have closed upon Thomas’s death.
The Quality Tailors, Adelaide
In 1913 they opened a newly renovated store on the corner of Gawler Place and Pirie Street. They added a store in St. Vincent’s Street. In 1918 Arthur Laurence Atterton (1893-1959) took over as manager of the Quality Tailors at the corner of Pirie Street and Gawler Place. Two years later he bought the firm. See ‘Arthur L. Atterton’ in the tailoring pages.
R. Ramage & Son/W. D. Ramage, Bendigo
The origin of William David Ramage tailoring was with his father’s business. Richard Ramage (1829-1912) came from Scotland to Melbourne in 1853. He moved to Bendigo around 1863, starting his own business in View Street in 1888. It became R. Ramage & Sons by 1899. He had seven sons of which at least William (1878-1954), and Robert were also tailors. In 1913 they merged with the Melbourne Tailoring Company, then in 1915 it became W. D. Ramage.
Around this time (1913-1916) there was also a ‘Ramage Brothers’ tailoring firm in View Street. Perhaps some of the brothers did not partake in the merger?
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
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.
R. H. Blanks, Jamestown
Mr Richard Henry Blanks, “an experienced practical tailor” moved around rural South Australia. In 1895 He commenced business at Gladstone.
By 1897 he commenced business in Quorn. In 1902 he moved to larger premises due to the success of his business.
In 1907 he moved again, this time to Railway Town, part of Broken Hill, now known as “R. H. Blanks & Co., Art Tailors”. In 1912 his shop was gutted by fire. This seems to have prompted his move to Semaphore. He stopped advertising in 1925, and moved to Woodville where he lived until his death in May,1930, aged 55 years. It appears he had suffered from ill health, probably necessitating his early retirement.
Strangely enough, I can find no mention of him in Jamestown, but it is only 30 km from Gladstone, so the button may date from that time (1895-97).
R. Little, Melbourne
Richard Little (1824-1899) born in Ireland and late of London, arrived in Melbourne in 1850. At first he was in partnership with his father William as W. & R. Little. In February 1854 William left the partnership to operate on his own whilst Richard and his brother John continued together. I wonder if this was an amicable split?
From 1859 he traded only under his own name (as on the button), then from 1884 as ‘R. Little & Co.’ In August 1899, it was reported that, after he had been missing for some days, his hat was found floating in the Yarra River. A couple of weeks later, his body was found. Some time after his death, the firm became known simply as Little & Co. They continued until 1918.
Robathon & Stevens, Sandhurst
George Robathan (not Robathon despite what the button says!) was born in London in 1828, and came to the colony around 1533 and hence to Bendigo (Sandhurst). He was in the partnership of Cooper & Robathan from 1855 until Mr Cooper’s death in 1860. Archibald Stevens joined the new partnership of Robathan & Stevens which continued beyond Robathan’s death in 1886 until 1901, when J. Thomas & Co bought the stock. it was not until 1903 that Louis Germann took over the store in Pall Mall. Archibald moved to Melbourne in 1909 and died there the following year.
Rosman & Leach, Smith Street
Toby Billings has found an 1888 reference to this partnership at 343 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
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?
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. T. Lloyd, 34 Bourke St Melb
Reginald Theophilius Lloyd was a tailor in Bourke street from at least 1904-1930. He was born in Beechworth in 1884, and died in North Fitzroy in 1956.
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.