Boy's smock

Contributed by: Dungog Historical Society Inc

Boy's smock aide back shot Boys smock hole in sleeve Boy's smock previous repair Boy's smock right side Boy's smock left side Boy's smock inside out Boy's smock buttonhole Boy's smock burn hole Boy's smock back Boy's smock front
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Dungog Historical Society Inc
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

    1891 - 1893
  • Place of origin:

    Copeland, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Male, Child
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Object information

Significance statement

The Edwards family have had a long association with the Dungog region. The garment is of historic significance as it is an every day cotton smock of a boy who was born in 1887 and who died in 1893 from diphtheria. It was made by sewing machine with the button holes sewn by hand, probably by his mother, Mary Edwards. The yoke is made from cream material and the collar is lined with cashmere, probably a scrap from another garment. The garment has been well worn and used by Percy, and most of the rents and tears have been mended. The garment reflects a time when, when due to relative isolation and economic circumstances, clothing was recycled and repaired by the less well to do.

Percy died when he was a little over 6 years old. It is likely that the garment survived because it was kept by his parents as a memento. This view is supported by the fact that one of his sisters donated the smock to the Society.

Author: Maureen Kingston, Secretary, Dungog Historical Society Inc, 28 June 2011.


A boy's blue long sleeved short smock. It has a collar and is fastened down the front with five buttons (made from pearl, bone and glass). The button holes are hand made, but the rest of the smock is machine sewn. The yoke is lined with cream cotton. The sleeves have a small cuff and the opening is large enough for a small child to get their hand through. The sleeve head is slightly gathered, more so at the back than at the front. The collar is lined with cashmere.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Henry Edwards married Mary Jones in 1865. Twin boys Percy and Albert Edwards were born to Mary and Henry Edwards in 1887.

Percy Edwards died in 1893.

The Edwards family has a long association with the Dungog region.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

Little boys in the late Victorian era wore dresses when they were very young and then progressed to smocks and breeches when they were about three or four.

Gold was discovered at Copeland in 1876 and many went there to search for gold. Percy Edwards died of diphtheria in 1893, a common killer of children in the Dungog region at the turn of the 20th century. The disease was often treated with iodine, but this treatment was ineffective and the disease was extremely dangerous to children until an effective vaccine was distributed in the mid 1920s.

It is unusual for a boy's everyday smock from the 1890s to survive. It is likely that the garment was kept by the family as a memento of Percy.

Where did this information come from?

The information came from notes supplied by his sister, Mrs Cox, when she donated the smock to the Society. (We believe her name was Lillian). The death and its cause has been confirmed by the Society obtaining Percy's death certificate.

This garment has been exhibited

Yes. Changing exhibition July 2009 -July 2010, at the Dungog Museum -" A Medley of Anniversaries - 40th Anniversary, Dungog Museum, 50th Anniversary of Dungog Shire Council and 120th Anniversary of the "Dungog Chronicle". The exhibition celebrated the 3 anniversaries. The items chosen for the exhibition that related to the Dungog Museum were chosen because of their rarity and or significance to the Dungog region.

  1. Place of origin:

    Copeland, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:

    Unknown, but probably minimal as the material could have been scraps. The collar, for instance, has been lined with what is most likely a scrap of blue cashmere left over from another garment.

  3. Owned by:

    Mary and Henry Edwards, parents of Percy Edwards.

    Mrs Cox, sister of Percy Edwards.

    Dungog Historical Society.

  4. Worn by:

    Percy Edwards

  5. Occasion(s):

    Everyday wear, possibly for a number of years.

  6. Place:

    Copeland, Dungog region.

  7. Designed by:


  8. Made by:

    Probably made by Mary Edwards, mother of Percy Edwards.

  9. Made for:

    Percy Edwards

Trimmings / Decoration

There is a black and white loosely criss-crossed pattern printed onto the smock.

Fibre / Weave

Blue printed plain-weave sturdy cotton smock.

Cream cotton lining under yoke.

Fine blue cashmere lining under collar.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


The buttons holes are hand made. The rest of the garment is machine made.


The little boy who wore the smock has torn the front proper left so the material has been pleated with blue thread on a big machine stitch. He also seems to have split the smock right down the back and a seam has been created with white cotton.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


There are five buttons, of three different types - bone, shell and glass.

From the condition of the linen thread they are fastened with, it would seem that they were all attached at the same time.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

The yoke is lined with white or cream cotton.

The collar is lined with fine blue cashmere.


Neck 300 mm
Chest 680 mm
Cuff 190 mm
Hem circumference 1010 mm
Front neck to hem 370 mm
Back neck to hem 395 mm
Sleeve length 300 mm
Neck to sleeve head 80 mm
Cross back 290 mm
Underarm to underarm 340 mm
Convert to inches

Additional material

Other related objects

Henry Edwards was the fourth child born to William and Wilelmia Edwards, who moved, in about 1862 to Salisbury, a hamlet on the Upper Williams River near Dungog. The Dungog Historical Society has a photograph of their 50th wedding anniversary


There is fading from sunlight, but the front middle section has probably faded due to repeated mending and scrubbing.

Evidence of repairs

There are numerous holes on the proper left. There have been repairs at three different times, indicated by the three different colours of thread used to make the repairs. Some of the holes have not been repaired.

The little boy who wore the smock has torn the front proper left so the material has been pleated with blue thread on a big machine stitch. He also seems to have split the smock right down the back and a seam has been created with white cotton.

It looks as though there are four different types of buttons on the smock, two shell and two early plastic, which indicate possible losses of buttons over the years.

It is possible that the collar has been rebacked due to wear. 

Mould damage

There is possible mould spotting on the collar.


  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor


  1. Fading
  2. Holes
  3. Stained
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