Jacket, women's, mink fur / silk, made by Cornelius Furs, used by Barbara Partridge, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1962
Fur has a long history of use in clothing. Valued firstly for its warmth, it became a key player in the use of dress to express wealth, status and luxury. More recently it has become the target of anti-fur campaigners.
This fur jacket complements the Museum's collection of archival material and objects (dating from the 1940s to 2000) relating to Australian fur manufacturer and retailer Cornelius Furs. This includes scrapbooks and specialised equipment used in the manufacture of fur garments, but there are no Cornelius fur jackets in the Museum's collection.
This object has significance in material culture in terms of exchange (as a TV prize awarded to a renowned quiz champion) and in the cultural meanings stemming from its association with early Australian television. In addition, it is a good example of a top quality Australian-made fur jacket from the early 1960s, a time when fur garments remained popular with women. Bob Dyer's co-host on 'Pick-a-Box', his wife Dolly, was also known to wear fashionable mink jackets.
Made by Cornelius Furs, 72 Castlereagh St Sydney. The Cornelius Furs shop on the corner of King and Castlereagh Streets, Sydney was established by Max and Stella Cornelius in 1943, at a time when a fur coat was considered almost an essential part of a woman's wardrobe. In 1984 Sonia Kempler took over the business, running it until July 2000 when Cornelius Furs closed, the last boutique in Australia with fur as its main trade.
The fur jacket was a prize won in 1962 by the donor's father Frank Partridge as a contestant on the television quiz show 'Pick-a-Box'. Bob Dyer's 'Pick-a-Box' was Australia's first long-running TV quiz program, airing from 1957 to 1971. Frank Partridge made a number of appearances on the program in the early 1960s, where he won a number of prizes and took part in some keenly fought contests with Barry Jones, 'Pick-a-Box's most famous contestant. Partridge's first appearance on the show was on 22 January 1962.
While Barry Jones was a highly educated, self-assured school teacher from Caulfield, Frank Partridge was a modest, self-educated farmer who left school at 12. When Partridge won his electrical appliances he did not even have electricity on his farm at Upper Newee Creek near Macksville, NSW. By the time his reign as TV's quiz champion ended, when Barry Jones defeated him by one point, he had won 11,000 pounds worth of prizes, including cash, electric appliances, furniture, a block of land, a caravan and a car. He used the proceeds to build a new house for his bride Barbara. Having been Australia's youngest Victoria Cross winner in World War II, Frank Partridge was regarded as a role model and a war hero. 'Pick-a-Box' made him a celebrity and viewers loved him. At his wedding a crowd of 2,000 blocked the traffic.
Barbara Partridge wore the fur jacket on their honeymoon, a Pacific cruise on the Monterey, another 'Pick-a-Box' prize. (Photographs of Barbara wearing the jacket have been made available by the donor for copying.) She no longer wore the jacket after her husband's death in a motor accident in March 1964. In the donor's words: 'For their honeymoon my parents went on a cruise around the Pacific and America on the Monterey. It was a Pick-a-Box prize. I don't know if she ever wore the fur jacket apart from the honeymoon. She wasn't really a fur jacket person. After my father's death she wore it perhaps never.' (Lachlann Partridge to Peter Cox, 14/7/04)
In 2002 the donor lent the jacket to the National Film and Sound Archive where it was displayed in the context of Australian TV quiz shows. The protective cover was made by National Film and Sound Archive and is not part of the object.