Sep 26, 2012

JANESVILLE CLOTHING CO. Vintage Work Jacket & Work Shirt

Vintage Janesville Clothing Co. MONARCH FOODS work jacket constructed of twisted yarn convert cloth a.k.a. salt & pepper. Much less common than the standard dark grey version of salt & pepper fabric, this light variation gets its color by emphasizing the lighter natural color threads. Details lead us to date this jacket to the 1940s era, possibly earlier. Part of the collection.

Monarch Foods roots can be traced to Reid-Murdoch Co. a Dubuque, Iowa provisions company founded in 1853 that sold flour, bacon, sugar and other food staples to wagon trains heading west during the 1850s gold rush. Monarch is still doing business today.

Collarless design
Machine loomed Janesville Clothing Co. label
 Sleeve repairs
Left side lower pocket was removed and fabric used for repairs and patching, indicitive of Depression Era frugality and ingenuity
Original button
Replacement button

The Janesville Cotton Manufacturing Co. 1874 – 1886 was established in 1874 on the upper raceway, north of Milwaukee Street on River Street. They were the first cotton mill in the state of Wisconsin and at the time were the only factory of their kind in the West. 
The factory was enlarged in 1877, and the work force grew to 250 people. The factory had 400 looms and in 1878 manufactured 5,350,900 yards of sheeting. 
The business expanded in 1883 with the construction of a large factory and power plant at Monterey at a cost of a quarter million dollars. Four hundred people worked for the company at that time. Excessive freight rates for cotton due to the great distance it had to be
shipped and the high prices paid to the company's operatives forced the ambitious enterprise into a financial corner. In 1886, a new corporation, the Janesville Cotton Mills, formed to take over the business. It ran it for a while longer but eventually the plant was sold to the Janesville Electric Co.

The Janesville Cotton Mills Company 1886-1900 was incorporated in March, 1886, and was an outgrowth of the Janesville Cotton Manufacturing Company. The new building of the company at Monterey, near the city, was erected in 1884 and opened for business in January, 1885. It was a 300 loom-mill, with a capacity of 16,000 yard of sheeting per day and employs 175 hands. The city, or upper, mill has 400 looms, employs 225 hands and turns out 35,000 yards per day.

Janesville Clothing Co. starts making work clothes for men and boys in 1894.

Janesville Shirt & Overall Company 1906-1970s  was a manufacturer of work clothing including overalls and workshirts. They were located at the old Janesville Cotton Mill.

1940's era Janesville work shirt with chin strap collar made of Pepperell SANFORIZED salt & pepper convert cloth in rare brown color variation via ebay seller antiquegypsy


  1. LOVE seeing frays and repairs. My favorite 49er has tattered cuffs, it was obviously the original owners favorite too!

    Looking forward to the Ken Burns Dustbowl series on tomorrow night, lots of great blue collar wear to be seen I'm sure.

  2. William says,
    This Vintage work jacket & work shirt seems to me sound like very nice. I'm quite willing to get in such vintage dress for my work. Thanks :)

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  13. My grandfather (cutter) and grandmother (seamstress) worked at Janesville Clothing Co. in the mid-1910s. Other than a mention in a couple of the city directories, I have little to no knowledge of this place. Would be cool if there were photos of the inside of the factory showing the workers.