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Registered: 13/02/05
Posts: 437
Reply with quote  #1 
Recently we have had a lot of discussion about shirts and embroidery, especially on the bib fronted/firemen's shirt worn by Billy the Kid. It struck me- when did these shirts first make their appearance?


Reply with quote  #2 
Originally Posted by Chris


Chuckle....Point taken Chris.....lets see what we can find out huh.

Reply with quote  #3 
Well for starters they go back as far as the 1870's as there are pictures of cavalrymen of the period wearing them.....any takers past this date please....

Reply with quote  #4 now back to 1861....see the enclosed link and scroll about halfway down the page.......interestingly enough, they were rare items of dress...?????

Registered: 13/02/05
Posts: 437
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Trooper
I do remember seeing somewhere in one of the books - a reference to the Texas Navy 1839 wearing bib fronted shirts. However, as we all know them as firemen's shirts, there must be some reference to them as having been used by firemen prior to this date.


Reply with quote  #6 
apparently it appeared in 1848 as a dress shirt and was used aa a firemans uniform shirt before the civil war and a lot of ex soldiers wore their former uniform from the civil war and went west and it became more popular.

Reply with quote  #7 
could be as early as you said Chris,the yoked shirt came about in 1848 too so i read.

Reply with quote  #8 
I got this quote from another site...;

Fireman Bib Front Shirt

The bib/shield front shirt goes back to the 1850s and was originally a fireman's uniform shirt.  The bib was added to the shirt to protect the fireman from burning embers.  By having an additional layer between him and the embers it could be torn off in a hurry due to the button construction.

During the Civil War, entire fire companies enlisted as a group and retained their fireman bib front shirt as part of their uniform.  Union artillery men saw the usefulness of this type of shirt and it was adopted as part of their unofficial uniform.

After the war, these shirts became popular on the frontier by many veterans going west.  In the  mid to late 1800s army officers had their uniforms custom tailored which led to wide variations from official  uniforming standards.  General Custer's uniforms are a good example of this type of uniforming and in several period photographs, you see him wearing this type of shirt.

Reply with quote  #9 
good info Troop,so we are pre-civil war then? i also read that the bib was for re-inforcement or protection.

Registered: 13/02/05
Posts: 437
Reply with quote  #10 
Good piece about the fire brigade. I have found Texas Coastguard wearing red woollen bib front shirts on a parade in Galveston 1842, so obviously before 1842. Very interesting.


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Registered: 30/09/04
Posts: 1,497
Reply with quote  #11 
Trooper, I have checked out the shirt on your link it appears that the shirt and the trousers button the ladies way from right to left, or did all the Ladies and Gents garments of the time fasten the same way.


papa bear
There are no strangers here only friends.(Deadwood 2001)

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Reply with quote  #12 

Hmmm...good point Papa Bear....and I do seem to recall seeing something about that somewhere...where exactly escapes me at the moment..but a faint bell is ringing...perhaps the ladies could enlighten us on that point...?

Reply with quote  #13 
When ladies started buttoning or using hooks and eyes to fasten their clothes, the well dressed woman generally had a servant to help her to get dressed. Her dress was made therefore so that it was easier for someone else to do the fastenings. Men usually dressed themselves so their garments were made easier to button themselves. This was probably established in the early 19th century (women's clothes fastening on a different side) Women's is right over left and men's is left over right.

i have found this any one else???????? to be honest it was something i had never thought of before thanks chaps

Reply with quote  #14 
Heres an interesting bit of information...

The book is called.. 'Common Threads - A Parade of American Clothing' by Lee Hall..

'By and Large the shift from farm and range to factory also saw the shift from homemade to factory produced clothing  .......   Manufactured clothing, the result of repeated applications of specific processes to given materials tended towards uniformity in style and quality.
Handiwork ie;  (embroidery, cutouts and lace insertions, and other individual embellishments ),  was reserved for the professinal dressmakers garments for the well to do, and the off-the-rack clothing, however uniform in style and workmanship was inexpensive enough to allow others to vary their wardrobe by buying more garments than they may previousley have owned'
Reading that it seems to me that a lot of people wouldnt have been able to afford embroidered clothing.....not only because of its relative scarcity among the working class, but because of its cost too...???


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Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 12,506
Reply with quote  #15 
Originally Posted by papabear
Trooper, I have checked out the shirt on your link it appears that the shirt and the trousers button the ladies way from right to left, or did all the Ladies and Gents garments of the time fasten the same way.
I think you might be jumping to assumptions here. I don't know much about photography, but a lot of plates were printed in reverse. This is what led everyone to believe for many years, that Billy the Kid was left handed, because his gun appeared to be on his left side.(I don't know which way the dragon was facing)
I've never seen anything from the civil war buttoning the opposite way.
Try to find something else in the picture to give an indication.

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know. Mark Twain.
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