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2009/6/2 Cowboy chaps, 'Roy Rogers King of the Cowboys, Dale Evans Queen of the West', fancy dress costume, textile / plastic / metal, maker unknown, probably Australia, 1950-1980. Click to enlarge.

Cowboy chaps for fancy dress

  • 1950-1980
This boy's dress up costume is a pair of chaps. Chaps were a classic item of clothing worn by traditional American cowboys, the heyday of which lasted only about 20 years from 1866 to 1886. Chaps, pronounced 'shaps', were made of leather and worn as coverings over the cowboy's trousers. They protected them from spiky bushes, being stabbed by long-horned cattle, bitten by horses and chafed knees from long hours of riding in the saddle.

The life of the cowboy was romanticised in Wild West …


Object No.


Object Statement

Cowboy chaps, 'Roy Rogers King of the Cowboys, Dale Evans Queen of the West', fancy dress costume, textile / plastic / metal, maker unknown, probably Australia, 1950-1980

Physical Description

Fancy dress costume, cowboy chaps, 'Roy Rogers King of the Cowboys, Dale Evans Queen of the West', fabric / plastic, maker unknown, probably Australia, 1950-1980

Chaps are protective coverings for cowboy's legs. They were tied over trousers but, unlike trousers, have no seat and are not joined at the crotch. The chaps are finished in black and white, are decorated with sheriff stars, and feature a holster pocket and ties for the waist, and fastened with a metal buckle at the back. There is a faint imprint of text and graphics on the black section of the chaps referring to Roy Rogers 'King of the Cowboys', Dale Evans 'Queen of the West'.


Faint imprint of image and text on the black section of the chaps, 'King of the Cowboys / Roy', 'Roy Rogers / Dale Evans / Trigger', 'Queen of the West / Dale'.
On the reverse side of the right chap at the top in blue ink is written 'MP'.
There is some mould on the black areas of the chaps.
On the reverse side of the right chap there is a large dark stain.
The left chap has three staples through it.
One of the hanging sheriff stars is missing.



580 mm


500 mm



  • 1950-1980

Probably made


The work and skills of cowboys were brought to the public notice when William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody's Wild West show was formed in 1883 and toured the United States and Europe for over 30 years. The idea of the cowboy as a strong, silent and capable hero began in America and was popularised by writers such as Owen Wister (1860-1938) and Zane Grey (1872-1939). This was taken up by the film industry from 1903 and the first Western film star was Tom Mix (1880-1940) who made some 300 films. Others followed, including Gene Autry who rode 'Champion the Wonder Horse' in 95 movies and Roy Rogers mounted on 'Trigger', who made films from 1942 to 1954. Later, both Autry and Rogers had their own television shows. More Westerns were said to have been made by Hollywood than any other type of film with stars such as William S. Hart (1865-1946), John Wayne (1907-1979) and from the 1960s Clint Eastwood (b.1930).

The strong presence of Westerns in film and television entertainment gave rise to the immense popularity of children's cowboy and cowgirl dress up costumes from the 1950s. The main Australian manufacturer of children's dress up clothes was the Sydney toy manufacturer, A.L. Lindsay Pty Ltd. During the 1940s the company began using Buffalo Bill as their trade mark and traded as Buffalo Bill Products, exploiting the boom in film and later television westerns. They produced a series of chaps in calf skin, leather, and suede, as well as beautifully embossed holsters.

It would appear this costume was commercially produced although there is no evidence of labelling.

Murdoch, David H. "Collins Eyewitness Guides : Cowboys", HarperCollins, 1993.



Little is known about the history of this costume as it has been handed down through several people. It was given to the donor by a teacher at her daughter's preschool in Melbourne which she attended in 2002. It is thought that the teacher acquired the costume from a dance studio in Thornbury, a Melbourne suburb, in the 1980s. It is unclear whether the costume was used by a family who attended the studio or the dance studio itself.


Credit Line

Gift of Linno Rhodes, 2009

Acquisition Date

15 January 2009

Cite this Object


Cowboy chaps for fancy dress 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 11 May 2021, <https://ma.as/390578>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/390578 |title=Cowboy chaps for fancy dress |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=11 May 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}