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The smoking cap of John McDouall Stuart.

History

This cap belonged to John McDouall Stuart, the first European explorer to successfully cross the Australian continent from south to north and return. He enjoyed tobacco smoking and his party were all supplied with rations. The Museum acquired the cap when the Art Gallery of South Australia's Historical Relics Collection was transferred to the History Trust of South Australia, now History SA.   

Significance

This smoking cap is an example of one of John McDouall Stuart's personal belongings and an aspect of Victorian material culture. Smoking accessories like this cap were popular through the mid-to-late nineteenth century to prevent the smoker's hair from absorbing the smell of tobacco smoke and were often worn with smoking jackets. The design, with its elaborate embroidery and decorative tassel, also reflects the nineteenth-century love of 'Oriental' style, a popular aesthetic influencing fashion, furniture, art, architecture and interior design. The cap illustrates an aspect of Stuart's private domestic life and personal tastes, in contrast with many of the other objects in the collection focussing on his exploration and surveying work. 

Description

Domed shaped smoking cap of five pieces sewn together, navy blue is the base colour with black appliqued over the cap in multiple 'club' design outlined in blue and yellow silk embroidery. Button of fibrous material covered with blue crochet is fixed to the upper centre point. Double line of blue cord is stitched in a bow below the button, this extends to a bell shape knob covered like the button. From this knob is a full tassel of the blue and yellow silk thread. Cap is lined with black silk material. 

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John McDouall Stuart

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Image: Blue and gold embroidered smoking cap
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