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R.M. Ballantyne Limited Pullover Shaker Rib Knit Sweater - Early-Mid Century

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Show and Tell - Share your treasures' started by DadJeans, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. DadJeans

    DadJeans Registered Guest

    Hello all!

    I'm an avid thrifter and re-seller of menswear in Canada (Hamilton, ON). Most of what I come across is fairly recent Italian tailoring. I occasionally have the pleasure of coming across some true vintage pieces and I have a special one here I could use a little help with.

    I believe it to be a shaker rib knit men's wool pullover from a knitting mill called R.M. Ballantyne Limited in Stratford, ON. From legal documents and trade publications, I've been able to find out that they operated under that name from 1905 to 1947. I'm trying to narrow down that timeline a little bit before I list it for sale. (Or, more likely, continue to fawn over it and wish I was several sizes smaller for several months before my wife tells me it needs to go!)

    I believe the buttons to be bakelite based on the fact that they're slightly darker on the exterior side and lighter on the interior side. That would suggest to me that the sweater is likely from the 1930s. That being said, all that I know about bakelite, celluloid and other older buttons I know from recent google searches. I have not tried a hot-water test with the buttons yet, as I don't want to detach them or risk wetting the garment.

    There are no union tags present nor is there a size tag. There is also no listed fibre content or country of origin labeling. I'm not sure when either of these became standardized in Canada. I assume that it is meant as casual wear for the colder months but I've also entertained the possibility that the stripes may indicate team colours from some sort of sport.

    Any help you can offer to broaden or correct my understanding and appreciation of this garment is much appreciated!

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  2. venividivintage

    venividivintage Registered Guest

    To me it looks like a 1920's Shaker sweater. Sometimes also called a shawl collar sweater. I say Shaker because of the buttons, the way the collar wraps, and the heavy waistband and cuffs. Check out this great resource: https://vintagedancer.com/1920s/1920s-mens-sweaters/

    It's absolutely gorgeous....I would LOVE to own something like that.
  3. mags_rags

    mags_rags Trade Member

    An interesting puzzle. The presence of a Ballantyne label took me to the VFG Label Resource, where we have a history - and labels from sweaters 1950s to 1980s - on the Scottish Ballantynes, which is the company most of us would think of.
    Based on that background, we would expect to see D Ballantyne from 1921 to 1945, not RM. It certainly looks like the Scottish Ballantynes did a lot of joint projects with other companies and designers. But not sure there was a Scotland to Canada connection.

    We do have several VFG trade members who are Canadian. Hopefully, they will weigh in here.
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    If you can find copies of the Canadian Dry Goods Review (published 1891 - 1933), or it's replacement Stylewear (published 1933 - 1946), they are trade magazines packed with manufacturer adverts and often the knitwear companies have line drawings of this kind of sweater. Toronto Reference library has a complete run (I think). Fibre content doesn't appear on Canadian labels by law until 1973, and country of origin usually appears on items intended for export. Canada's clothing industry didn't export much of anything until the 1960s. R.M. Ballantyne had no association with the Scottish company. R.M. stands for Robert Mitchell and he was a business man who amalgamated two smaller knitwear companies in 1905 and called the new company after himself. My feeling is that your sweater in late 20s - early 30s.... just a hunch, can't quite explain why...
    PS: let me know when you decided to sell it: [email protected]
  5. DadJeans

    DadJeans Registered Guest

    Thank you so much for putting together such a comprehensive reply! While I won't have a chance to head into the city anytime soon to visit the Toronto Reference Library, I have been able to find digitized copies of the Canadian Dry Good Review up to 1923 which were part of a U of T collection put online at https://archive.org/details/canadiantradejournals a few years ago.

    I haven't been able to find anything directly related to the garment but I've found several R.M. Ballantyne advertisements in the publication and very much enjoyed the reading. Here are a few of the ads I've come across. Thanks again!

    1921 - Dry Goods Review - rmb 1.jpg
    1919 - Dry Goods Review - rmb 11.jpg
    1913 - Menswear - rmb1.jpg
  6. mags_rags

    mags_rags Trade Member

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