The best thing about bespoke clothes is that they usually come with a small label tucked away in one of the inside pockets saying who made the garment, who they made it for and the date it was made:
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Montague Burton’s clothing was either made-to-measure or off-the-peg and therefore has a label inside that only tells you that Montague Burton made it. This label is generally the only real evidence one has as to when it was made. Sometimes it is obvious from the style when it was made – you couldn’t mistake a 70s suit for anything else – but the logo should always be the first point of call.
This is by no means comprehensive, and to be honest without going back in time you can’t be sure when the different logos were in use. Plus, even after the logo changed they probably kept on using the old labels until they’d run out so the presence of a certain logo is no guarantee of date. These are ball park dates that we’ve extrapolated from the Burton suits we have seen.
1900 – 1910
Montague Burton founded the company as the Cross Tailoring Company in 1904. We’ve never seen a garment from this early period and it may be that none now exist.
1910 – 1916
Between 1910 and 1916 the company was known as Burton & Burton. Again, we’ve never seen a garment from this period, but the letterhead below shows what is could possibly look like.
1916 – c1950
This is the classic Montague Burton logo from the glory days of the company. If a garment has this logo in then I will personally guarantee you that it will be made of decent fabric and cut pretty well. We don’t know precisely when it came in and when it was replaced, but it may have been in use from as early as the mid 1920s and certainly remained until the late 1940s.
1936 – c1950
This is an identical logo except that Burton changed their name in 1936 from Montague Burton: The Tailor of Taste Ltd to Montague Burton Ltd, The Tailor of Taste and this is reflected in the logo. So, if it says the former it should be from pre-1936 and if the latter, post 1936. This doesn’t seem to be perfectly consistent, however, as there seems to be a fuzzy period of overlap in the late 30s (possibly the firm using up old label stock?)
c1950 – c1960
This logo in my eyes looks quite clean and ahead of its time. It is definitely from the 1950s though, and I haven’t seen it on any suits cut in a 60s style, so presume it went out about the turn of the decade.
There are two versions of it:
c1960 – c1970
Montague Burton received its Royal Warrant in the 60s so these are quite easy to date. Manufacturers were also forced to add content labels in to clothing in about 1965 declaring what it was made of, so if a suit has one of these, you can start to date it quite well.
There are many logos that Burton used in the 70s. Generally, where the word ‘Burton’ is found it is in a font that harks back to the 30s logo. These labels become consistently less interesting, not just from a design perspective, but because the quality of Burton’s output declined significantly.
1980s – 1990s
To be honest, we haven’t seen too many Burton garments from the 1980s. However, these logos definiately date from that era.
1990s & Early 2000s
This logo is pretty much ubiquitous in charity shops!
Late 2000s – Present
Simply for the sake of completion – these are the logos currently in use by Burton.
One response to “Dating Montague Burton…”
I still have in my wardrobe a Montague Burton overcoat which was purchased in 1953. The original label is still stitched inside the inner pocket with the date, order number and branch number 400 Penzance