Australian dress register ID:46
Owner:Museum of the Riverina
Owner registration number:BGS2009.495 a-g
Date range:1928 - 1934
Place of origin:Coolamon, New South Wales, Australia
The Prince Charming costume worn by Frederick Boyton Smith is of Historic significance, being a good example of a Depression era children's costume. Surviving from a time when children's parents handmade costumes from oddments found around the home - for example, cardboard, crepe paper, cotton wool and scraps of fabric, it is rare to find children's costumes in this worn condition with all pieces intact, in this case, the hat, jacket, breeches, tights and shoes.
The accompanying photograph depicting Frederick wearing the costume adds to its historical value.
This costume is also significant as being one of the few examples of children's fancy dress costume held in the Museum's collection. Furthermore, it is also only one of a number of collection items dating to the Great Depression, and to the children of the Wagga district. Author: Michelle A. Maddison, 17th August 2010.
Complete Prince Charming costume comprising seven separate pieces:
With wire inserted around edge of brim for shaping. The edge is bordered with metallic ribbon and applied sequins.
Four press studs hold jacket together at front. Ruffled cotton fabric attached at neck, and at both cuffs. Three of the press studs are copper alloy, one is silver.
Blue and white vertical striped fabric (blue cotton, white silk), knee-length.
Handmade blue fabric with single large fabric-covered button on top. Interior is fitted with a loose cardboard sole. Brown fabric underneath. Pink fabric and blue/white ticking interior, with visible hand stitched seams, particularly down heel seam.
History and Provenance
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Frederick Boyton Smith was the third child (and youngest son) born to Gracie Doris (nee Boyton) and Joseph Smith. Frederick was born at Manly, NSW on 24 April 1921. He married Heather Eileen Patricia Ray, and worked a wheat and sheep farm at Wallacetown near Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Frederick's two brothers were:
Keith Ronald - born Manly, NSW 23 July 1917 (never married)
Jack Boyton - born Manly, NSW 29 May 1919, died 1 September 1919
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
This costume, identified by the donor as representing the fairytale character 'Prince Charming' was worn by Frederick Boyton Smith, the youngest son of Gracie Doris (nee Boyton) and Joseph Smith. In the associated photograph, he appears to be aged approximately 10 years old, which would date the costume to c. 1931 (or early 1930s).
There is a second costume in this collection which was also worn by Frederick. This costume comprises a brown and red jacket, and a matching crepe paper hat, both worn as part of an elf costume (according to accompanying notes).
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
Prior to the advent of the modern 'costume shop', costumes for fancy dress occasions were most commonly made at home.
Such surviving costumes are a testament to recycling - the re-use of materials, and also the creativity and resourcefulness of people in the first half of the 20th century.
Where did this information come from?
All information provided are from family notes which accompanied the garments when acquired.
This garment has been exhibited
To date, this costume has not been exhibited.
Place of origin:
Coolamon, New South Wales, Australia
Frederick Boyton Smith, c. early 1930s
Frederick Boyton Smith
Unknown, possibly a fancy dress party or school play
Coolamon, New South Wales
Gracie Smith may have been working from a pattern, or designed the template for this costume herself.
Gracie Doris Smith (nee Boyton), c. early 1930s
Frederick Boyton Smith
Fibre / Weave
* Blue cotton stockings
* Blue silk jacket with white cotton wool adornment
* Blue and white striped silk breeches
* Blue silk shoes with cardboard soles and silk covered button decoration
* Blue silk hat with white tulle sewn around rim. The tulle has embroidered decoration, including metallic gold thread, blue flowers, pale green leaves and the affixed blue sequins. The brim interior is shaped using wire sewn into the fabric.
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
Large hand sewn stitches in varying colours of cotton thread are especially visible inside the hat and down the vertical centre (interior) of jacket.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
The jacket front is held closed by a mixture of buttons and press studs. The breeches are held up with an elasticised waistline.
- Hook and eye
Stiffening / Lining / Padding
There is wire inserted inside the brim of the hat, which allows it to keep its shape.
|Hem circumference||1210 mm|
|Front neck to hem||475 mm|
|Front waist to hem||495 mm|
|Back neck to hem||510 mm|
|Back waist to hem||495 mm|
|Sleeve length||450 mm|
|Inside leg||185 mm|
|Outside leg||490 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||135 mm|
|Cross back||365 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||470 mm|
|Convert to inches|
Stockings - L: 73cm Breadth: 12cm
Hat - Diam: 37cm H: 17cm
Shoes - L: 23cm H: 6cm Breadth: 10.5cm
Other related objects
The Museum also holds a number of other children's costumes in its collection. These include:
Elf costume (with cotton coat and crepe paper hat) made for Frederick Boyton Smith by his mother, c. late 1920s-early 1930s.
Stewart collection of children's fancy dress (or dance costumes) - c. 1920s-30s.
Pixie costume - Wagga Wagga Grammar School collection, worn during school plays, c. 1915-46.
String Bag and Peg Bag costumes - made by Daphne Oriel Begg, c. 1950s - using hessian bags, crepe paper and thread.
'I Dream of Jeannie' costume, c. 1976 - made by Annette Brown for her daughter to wear to Lake Albert Public School social, using recycled kitchen curtain material and sequins sewn over bikini swimmers.
One leg of the breeches has sustained significant damage - possibly having been eaten by mice - there is also some associated staining.
There is one major spot of discolouration inside breeches, but this appears to be dirt (or mud) rather than mould.
The surface of the garment needs to be gently cleaned to remove dirt, and insect frass.
Evidence of repairs
Top press stud (silver) appears to be of a later date than the other three, which are copper alloy.
Some evidence of insect damage to the breeches in particular. There is also previous insect (clothes moth) damage to the hat, and the coat (mainly the cotton wadding decoration down the front).
- Parts missing