A tailor's tale about Squizzy Taylor

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 19th February, 2014

When notorious 1920s underworld identity Joseph “Squizzy” Taylor was fatally wounded in October 1927 by fellow gangster John “Snowy” Cutmore, he was apparently wearing a suit made by George Symons grandfather.

“My grandfather (also named George) had a tailor’s shop in the Block Arcade overlooking Collins Street and made suits for professional people and businessmen,” George said.

“Squizzy also used to have his suits made there and always paid cash – so, from a business point of view, my grandfather very much lamented his passing.”

In 1950, the entire family moved to Queensland and George and his son Simeon established George Symons Menswear in Brisbane.

Originally supplying clothes to the trade as a wholesaler, they eventually opened the factory to the public and the business boomed – selling up to 170 suits every week.

It didn’t hurt that George (junior) and Tony Roche married sisters and they were able to use the Australian tennis star in a successful advertising campaign that included becoming the first sponsors of the Brisbane Broncos and donating a suit every seven days to Player of the Week.

The company tendered for and won the contract to supply Queensland Police and other emergency services with clothing – an arrangement that continued for 40 years – and also was the biggest supplier of blazers to private schools in Brisbane for many years.

From his early 20s, George’s passion had been to become an actor – inspired by his meeting with successful English actress Annabelle Leventon.

However, not long after they became friends a tragic traffic accident in which he lost a leg put paid to that idea, although he was able to act in several Brisbane plays once he recovered.

While his father Simeon handled the practical side of the business, George (junior) concentrated on fashion with great success until they sold the company in 2003.  

Simeon’s creative outlet was collecting – and over the years he amassed a quality collection of 19th century English and European ceramics including Royal Worcester, Meissen and Sevres.

He died on Father’s Day 2012 followed in August last year by his wife. As a result George has asked Christian McCann Auctions to auction his father’s collection as part of his first sale for the year from noon tomorrow at 426 Burnley Street, Richmond.

The collection includes rare 18th century Sevres cabinet plates and an exhibition Meissen mantel clock along with a mother-of-pearl inlaid Chinese cherrywood dining setting.

The auction also contains an Arthur Boyd painting from the magic flute series and works by several other artists, French ormolu mounted furniture, and an exhibition bronze of David and Goliath.

The entire contents of 29 Hopetoun  Road, Toorak, tastefully decorated by Graeme Geddes Antiques, is another strong feature of the auction - while the French furniture includes commodes, vitrines, a rare pair of exhibition marquetry inlaid credenzas, salon cabinets and Boulle items.

Another highlight is the antique carved walnut library furniture, carved bergeres, bureau-plat and a rare pair of French fourfold leather screens. A further attraction is the cut crystal chandeliers, banquet tables and antique French salon mirrors.

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