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National Museum of Australia

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Frock coat in red brocade fabric

2007.0047.0006

Frock coat in red brocade fabric

Object information

Physical description

Frock coat in red brocade fabric with pattern of scrolling foliage in gold lame. False pockets to left and right and cuffs in apricot satin with decorative buttons. Cuffs trimmed with white lace. Internal label with handwritten text inside collar, 'GOWNS BY / BARNABY / 40 MIRANDA RD. / MIRANDA'. Part of 18th century-style footman's livery/ costume.

Statement of significance

The Spastic Centre collection comprises sixteen (16) objects associated with cerebral palsy fundraising in New South Wales, and the Miss Australia Quest/ Awards. It includes an 'Audrie doll' collection box, a gold lamè robe worn by Miss Australia 1978 Gloria Krope, and a pair of footmen's costumes worn by Miss Australia's attendants at the 1965 Coronation Ball in Sydney Town Hall.

The Miss Australia Quest (from 1992 known as the Miss Australia Awards) ran continuously from 1953 to 2000 and was arguably the longest running, most popular and most successful charitable enterprise in Australia's history. The first documented nationwide contest to identify Australia's ideal woman was held in 1907, however the first official use of the title 'Miss Australia' is more generally thought to have been used in relation to 'Miss Australia 1926' - Beryl Mills from Western Australia. Further contests were held in 1927, 1937, and from 1945 until 1950. It was in 1953 when Bernard Dowd (manufacturer of Hickory USA lingerie in Australia) and his company Dowd Associates took over running of the competition that the Quest became a registered business enterprise, and the 'search for Miss Australia' gained momentum. From 1954 until 2000 the Quest ran primarily as a fundraising event for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association (ACPA). Co-founded in 1945 by Audrie and Neil McLeod, The Spastic Centre was responsible for coordinating running of the Quest throughout NSW (and the ACT until 1984). In 1954 Audrie McLeod became the inaugural president of the ACPA, and remained closely involved with the Quest for almost forty years. When it closed in 2000, the competition was estimated to have raised over $90 million for people with cerebral palsy. Over its lifetime, the Miss Australia competition reflected many of the changes that took place in Australian society: the changing role and perceptions of women; changing perceptions of people with disabilities; the influence of migrants and 'New Australians'; and the presentation of Australia and Australians overseas.

Object information

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