A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Monday, 3 March 2008

MEN'S WORK (SMOCK) FROCKS 17THC & 18THC.

! Re your question about primary info on the shirt frock. First of all with research it is never, or rarely a matter as simple as finding a/primary piece of info, which you probably already know. It is a matter of piecing together a lot of information from a lot of sources. At least that is the way I have mostly found it. I will give you a brief run down here, and if you wish to give me your ordinary mailing address I will send you what I have. There is simply too much to send via email, and I am not very computer literate.First of all the word smock, is a word used for the early(17thc.) shift or chemise. The word used for the men's work outer protective garment was frock. These days we call them smock frocks or smock-frocks. Another early name was slop. This word I believe was more commonly used for seamen's frocks, hence the use of the word later on of slops, to describe seamen's clothing in general.There were infact two main types of smock frock in the 19thc., and of course variations of these in the 17th & 18thc. The round smock frock was reversable. It looked much like a man's shirt from the front and the back. But there were variations within this style and one of the terms in modern use is the shirt style smock frock which is I believe a round smock frock.I have a picture of an original mid 18thc. frock, and it is this type, ie it looks like a man's shirt from the front and back, it is reversable. The coat smock can also look like a shirt type, because it has an open front, to various depths, and has a button closure. All the open front smock frocks have a button closure in the 19thc.There is far less info on the early frocks. These garments were handed down Father to son until unrepairable. The only reason I have a picture of one is because it was made for an artist to fit a doll. Back in the middle ages there were a variety of garments made like the smock frock we have come to know but without arms. These were used as outer and underwear. From these developed the shift or chemise which had a shirt like open neck, and it had arms. The male equivalent was the man's shirt. From these it is believed that the men,s frock developed. So it makes sense that the 17thc to early 18thc. frocks looked much like the early smock and men's shirt.The general design has always been the same, but there was quite a variation in the collars and the front opening. These varied with the areas in England and Cymru(Wales), and the people who actually made them.Where the later Revolutionary frock came from I can't say, I believe it was truly an American develpement. The collars of some of the 19thc. smock frocks in England were made to form capes, so this may also have existed on early frocks and so developed into what we now know as the Rifleman's frock.But the early pullover style frock that we know so well that was used up to and through the F&I war and into the Revolutionary war, did not have time to develope into anything other than what it was, a (smock) frock.Later I believe this frock developed into the many variations of the round smock frockwith its variety of collar types and button front closures, but I also believe that there were other types of (round smock) frocks in existance at this time, especially the type refered to as a wagoner's frock in a well known 18thc. quote. This type too I believe was a round frock type, but I also believe that there was no specific wagoner's smock type, or at least that Wagoners did not always wear the same type of frock, and that a variety of types were worn by various people in various occupations.My research into all things 17thc. and 18thc. is ongoing, so I, or someone else may well find more information yet, but for now we can only go with what we have. I hope this is of some use and interest.Best wishes and most sincere regards, Keith H. Burgess. PS. I also have a picture of a painting by Krimmel, 1803, clearly showing the shirt style smock, which proves it was still in use post revolution.

No comments: