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This is a boy's fancy dress costume of fabric and plastic cowboy chaps, from about 1950-80. The chaps are decorated with sheriff stars, a holster pocket and a metal buckle at the back. They are 580 mm high and 500 mm wide.
The ubiquity of Westerns in cinemas and on television during the 1950s led to a corresponding popularity in children's cowboy and cowgirl dress-up costumes. The main Australian manufacturer of children's dress-up clothes was the Sydney toy company A L Lindsay. During the 1940s, the company began producing a series of chaps in calfskin, leather and suede, as well as beautifully embossed holsters.
Pronounced 'shaps', chaps were made of leather and worn as coverings over trousers. They prevented cowboys from being stabbed by spiky bushes or long-horned cattle, or suffering from horse bites or chafed knees during long hours in the saddle.
Before television arrived in Australia in 1956, children made weekly trips to the cinema, where the program included American films and serials with cowboys and Indians. The serialised stories were left in a cliffhanger situation to ensure a return the next week. Consequently, cowboys and Indians became a prominent children's game. The romanticisation of the American Wild West also spread into Australian popular culture via radio serials such as 'Hopalong Cassidy' and 'Smokey Dawson' and television shows such as 'Wells Fargo', 'Kit Carson', 'Wyatt Earp', 'Maverick', 'Have Gun - Will Travel', 'Rawhide', 'The Rifle Man', 'Bonanza', 'Wagon Train', 'Annie Oakley' and 'Cheyenne'.
There were numerous toys produced as tie-ins to these programs, including model cowboys and Indians, cap guns, bows and arrows, dress-up clothes and tents. These allowed children to escape into a fantasy world of their own creation inspired by their Wild West heroes.