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Ben Townsend

Pearse tailoring books

I'm doing some work on tailor's books for military uniforms and attempting to compile a database of all the Georgian uniform drawings or notes.

The Pearce books are held in The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. There areapparently four books, but I have only found descriptions for three. Perhaps one is a two volume set? The museum provides these notes,

Biographical/ Historical note  This collection consists of 4 books from the firm of Messrs. J. N. & B Pearse, military tailors in London England from 1746 until 1899. These four books document, through notes, drawings and actual lace samples, military lace patterns for officers and enlisted men from 1796 to 1855 for both the British and the Canadian Militia.

Title 1
 Military tailors accounts book [textual records]  
Publisher / Date  1762-1779  
Description  Accounts book : 1 ; leather bound ; 42.5x 29.5 x 5 cm.  
Summary  An book containing accounts and transactions regarding the sale and production of original samples of military lace and uniforms. Book originally kept by Messrs. J. N. and B. Pearse, Army Clothiers and tailors in London England.

Title 2
Army contractor's uniform design book [textual records]  
Publisher / Date  1797-1802.  
Description  Uniform design book : 1 ; Leather bound volume ; 24.5 x 19.7 x 2.2 cm.  
Summary  The book describes and depicts various uniforms for officers and enlisted men. Illustrations include the North Gloucester Militia, Cambridge Militia, EastKentMilitia, Chesire Militia, Devon Militia, Lancaster Militia, Dragoons, Light Dragoons, Somerset Cavalry among others.

Title 3
 Military tailors sample book [textual records]  
Publisher / Date  1810-1846  
Description  Tailors sample book : 1; Leather bound volume ; 20.7 x 31.8 x 3 cm.  
Summary  Military Tailors sample book containing samples of various types of military lace and placement details. The book also contains descriptions of how much lace or trim of each type is needed on various uniforms for both the British and Canadian Officers and enlisted men.

I have asked the museum to provide a list of the uniforms recorded in the book so I can add them to the data base. In the meantime, does anyone have any other information on these books? Robert Henderson kindly provided me with the 95th information years ago.
Richard Warren

Ben - I purchased downloads of photos of a few pages a couple of years back. I was told that two of the books might have items of interest to me (i.e. militia), and these were:

Military tailors sample book, Textual Records 58F 3 9D, control number 19770094-011

Army contractor's uniform design book, Textual Records 58F 3 9C, control number 19770094-013

The first has notes and lace samples. The second has pattern drawings and notes. These look like your "titles 2 and 3", but I notice that I was given reference numbers ending in C and D, which implies an A and a B, so - four volumes, I guess. But as the other one/two volumes apparently didn't have anything of interest to me, I wasn't given ref numbers for them.

The "uniform design book" (9C) includes drawings for the Warwick Fencible Cavalry and North York Militia also. I wasn't told about the other militia items you list, which is a bit annoying, but I think it was just down to one of their volunteers having a quick scan through. Good luck with your attempts to get details. I'd been hoping the whole lot might have been digitalised onto a handy purchasable dvd or whatever, but no such joy ...

Let me know if you want a copy of the North York drawing.
Ben Townsend

Thanks for the reply, Richard, and yes, I would very much appreciate scans of the images you hold to help build my file. The staff in Ottawa have been very helpful, and are in fact preparing an index of all the units featured in the four books. This is just what I need, so I'm very pleased that their needs and mine have coincided so neatly.

Once I have the info I can complete a spreadsheet I am building of all the known Georgian tailoring drawings of uniform.

The tricky part now will be finding information on the Buckmaster books which appear to have disappeared into private hands. Does anybody know of any other books in private hands? For now, I'm only interested in the Georgian ones.

Geives and Hawkes and   Henry Poole still  have an extensive collection  of  ledgers with  considerable notes  of uniforms and sketches in their archives.
Most  of Hand's archives were burned during WWII so  really only comprehensive from 1930 onwards.  
V&A has  Welsh and Stalker's books plus several others (but mostly naval and as above rarely with patterns and drawings though) and Reynolds note books (which  are fascinating and has huge amount of snippets no  longer existent, but not always easy to  discover where he got the info  from)

As  usual  with these,  they are simply what was sold to  each  regiment and what individual officer's ordered (and the bill) with the  odd drawing or sketch to  assist the cutter/tailor with  laying out the parts and  positioning  of buttonholes and lace. (beautiful rubbing of  Cardigan's actual  dolman and pelisse for Crimea though, which doesn't entirely match  regulations either).  
Their much  the same as you would collect yourself making items, with odd snippets  of reference so  you know what to  do  the next time.

NAM Holds  (5 volumes from memory) of Herbert's pattern books, which  lists lace designs and quantities for a number  of regiments, from about 1808/9  onwards and has the occasional  sketch.
Last time I looked at them they had trouble locating them as their accession numbers and  index listing were jumbled so  they could  only find 2 books.  
They have about a dozen other pattern books/ledgers but no index of what's in them so  often you have to spend hours reading to discover nothing important.

Try Anthony Dawson,  who 's made considerable notes  a couple of tailors books he owns from Yorkshire tailors (mostly 63rd foot) I think.

Think  Don Henderson ? (Discriminating General? )  owns a couple  of private books, or at least has  references he's used to  extant ones  so  he might be another source to  follow up  as well.
Ben Townsend

Thank you, that's very helpful, I had completely forgotten Gieves and Hawkes and Henry Poole, although I think I tried the former many years ago with no response.

PWR and Percy Sumner's notebooks are full of tantalising glimpses of Lot 81, and Buckmaster books. Having compared their drawings of W&S and Hawkes with the originals, I have to say I would love to see the originals of the other books that I can't find. But as you point out, their drawings of these 'lost books' are better than nothing.

I accessed the Herbert books at the Nam about four years ago, but my notes are in a different location so I can't recall how many books they found for me. I recall it as being mainly post period, and focussed on metalwork. I'll check me notes.

Welch and Stalker and soon Stothard, I have full images. Hawkes and Pearce may be harder as the holding institutions charge for images, but I have the Hawkes index and that of Pearce is coming.

Incidentally, for Hawkes I have found traces of 12 or so books, with all but one post period. The locations are various.

One tantalising possibility that is driving me crazy is a single b&w page from an auction catalogue for Christies July 1996, showing a tailors book that appears to be in the same style and handwriting as W&S. There is no text, but enlarging the picture shows the uniform to be one not represented in the V&A's W&S. I would LOVE to find another W&S book. To my mind they are truly beautiful books as well as being useful for research.

ASK Brown has come up with some nice 1820s-1830s books, but everything else I found in the V&A was post period.

I'll ask Ant about his books. Thanks again for the tips.

If you need a contact for Poole's, let me know.  I'm on good terms with their livery tailor and do a lot of work for them.
He's a Nelson uniform expert and has extensive museum contacts too. I suspect an index  of tailoring books would catch  his interest no  end.
Richard Warren

Discriminating Tailor - couple of examples visible here -
Paul Durrant

This from Gregger (his post seems to be playing up)

I have some snaps of the Ottawa books I took a couple of years ago. Although I was allowed to photograph the books, I was not allowed to use a tripod, so some are blurry. There are two entries relating to the 95th and I have attached them.
The books were obtained a number of years ago by the Canadian War Museum at an auction somewhere in England. Although they are very important in the study of uniforms, they are often vague and hard to read, and hard to date specifically.

My humble interpretation of the 95th tailor notes:

Private Coats Jacket
44 buttons
3 yards of white braid for feathering collar, straps & cuffs only

Sergt same as Private

Buglers feathering with white cloth
seams & around the forepart
Cuff, straps wings & [such}?
3 Battalion no button holes
[perhaps with hooks & eyes like the 83rd coatee in Paris?]

2 Rifle Buglers
[have or wear] ? Sergts trousers

The mention of 'white braid for feathering' on the 95th jackets (and not looping lace as is mentioned for none rifle regiments) is seen on the wings of this Canadian militia - probably post Napoleonic - officer's jacket which may have been inspired by the 95th jackets sent to the Glengary Light Infantry in the War of 1812.
The braid is sewn on the outside of the edge, then turned to the underside and sewn down. You can see the stitches just below the feathering.

Ben Townsend

Thanks, Greggers, and Paul, I'll add to the data base, which is rapidly expanding with all of the help flooding in from PM!
Paul Durrant

So the '44 buttons' is Rifle Brigade?

If I can guess; I would say the 44 buttons are three rows of 12 on the fronts, 2 for straps, 2 for "hips", and 2 on each cuff.

Note that "Rifle" is crossed out, and "late 95" is put in. I don't know what the date of this change is.

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