Long underpants, mens, Exacto brand, cotton, made by Davies Coop & Co, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, worn by Dr C A Monticone, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1930-1939
This pair of long underpants has significance as an example of a pair of men's 'long johns' dating from the 1930s.
The pair of underpants has additional significance due to its provenance. It was owned and worn by Dr Charles Albert Monticone, born 2 November 1882, at Asti in Italy. He won a scholarship to study abroad, first in Spain then in Melbourne. He chose to remain in Australia and completed a doctorate on the subject of the impact of women entering the workforce. Dr Monticone became the Chief Government Interpreter for New South Wales, and his office was located in the Liverpool Street courthouse. He was also a handwriting and fingerprint expert. Dr Monticone lived in Mosman until 1957, when he moved to Penrith.
In 1954 Dr Monticone provided testimony for Dr H V Evatt, Leader of the Opposition, at the Petrov Royal Commission. Evatt claimed that page 35 of the notorious 'Document J', one of the documents Petrov brought across when he defected, was a forgery that had been inserted in a conspiracy to damage the ALP. He examined the document for inconsistencies in the handwriting and staple marks. Called by Evatt to provide expert handwriting testimony, Dr Monticone testified against the evidence of a police handwriting expert who claimed that the handwriting on all of Document J was Rupert Lockwood's. The Commission disagreed, concluding that Document J was not a forgery and entirely Lockwood's work.
In his role as a senior skilled interpreter Dr Monticone was sometimes called upon to read in Italian the infamous dictation test, because no customs officer in Sydney could speak Italian. The dictation test was used from 1901 to 1959 to discriminate against immigrants deemed unsuitable because of their race. The applicant, upon arrival, would be given the test in a European language unrelated to his or her background. Anybody who failed the test would be termed a 'prohibited immigrant' and prevented from disembarking. The dictation test was a façade. Its real purpose was to enforce the White Australia policy by applying a racial barrier, without actually mentioning race.
Made in Australia by Davies, Coop & Co, Melbourne, makers of Exacto underwear. Davies Coop & Company began to produce shirts and pyjamas in 1925. The company extended its enterprise to knitting in 1928, cotton spinning in 1930 and cotton weaving in 1932. In 1938 Davies Coop established a mill to manufacture condenser yarn and yarn for car tyres. In 1938 Davies Coop (Flax Industries) Pty Ltd was established to weave flax for tarpaulins, fire hoses and canvas. In 1969 Bradmill Industries Limited took over Davies Coop & Co.
Purchased by Dr C A Monticone in the 1930s and worn by him. Dr Monticone used to ski in the Australian Alps and probably wore the long johns for this purpose. They were among a group of clothing brought to the attention of Lorraine Foster at the Vintage Clothing Shop by the donor, the daughter of Dr Monticone. Ms Foster alerted the Museum to its significance.