Sunday, May 18, 2014

Antique Image of the Day: The Royal Navy of England & the Story of the Sailor Suit, 1900

Pamphlet by Wm. Rowe & Co.
Septimus E. Scott, 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here, we see a trade pamphlet issued by clothing-maker Wm. Rowe & Co., Ltd, of Gosport, London & Cowes. The 40-page pamphlet features a ribbon binding and a soft cover printed with lettering and gold decoration over an illustration of a sailing vessel on the front. The pamphlet contains a color frontispiece entitled, “Seafaring Men” by Septimus E. Scott, which depicts a boy in a sailor suit seated beside a uniformed sailor. The pamphlet cleverly combines the story of the rise of naval uniform in England with half-tone illustrations (also by Septimus Scott) of the vairous children's garments (mostly with a nautical theme) which were manufactured by Rowe's.

The sailor suit was a popular item of children's dress from the middle of the Nineteenth to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. This style was based on the uniform worn by ratings in the British Navy.

How did the style develop? The first sailor suit for a child is typically thought to be one which was made for Queen Victoria's eldest son, Prince Albert Edward (“Bertie,” later King Edward VII—father of George V) to wear on a Royal visit to Ireland in 1846. T Within a decade, the fashion became a classic of childrens-wear, and was still in use well into the 1920s. The fashion still survives as a choice for young boys participating in wedding parties.

Rowe—the producer of this pamphlet--was one of the leading manufacturers of sailor suits. They also offered correct accessories for children, including a lanyard and a small “Bo'swain's pipe” (whistle), the "regulation Senet Hat", and the sleeve badges of various naval ranks.

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