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Stanio Fancoff, Bulgarian Migrant & Shoe Maker, 1929

Health Certificate - Orient Line, Naples, 1929

Image: Health Certificate - Orient Line, Naples, 1929

Source: Museum Victoria

Stanio Ivanoff Fancoff was born on 21st March 1908 in Bojentsi, a heritage-listed village situated near the city of Gabrovo in Bulgaria. At the age of 11 Stanio left home to learn the trade of shoemaking and in 1929 he migrated to Melbourne on the Orient Line Holmer Co from Naples. Arriving in Australia, Stanio began working on a building site as a labourer, carting cement. However, having just arrived and being a shoemaker, Stanio was soon sought after and employed by Mr V.G. Zemancheff to make the then-fashionable 'Parisian' woven basket shoes. V.G. Zemancheff & Sons (themselves migrants from Bulgaria having arrived on the Sydney, in Adelaide 1914) owned and operated a basket shoe factory at 163 Napier Street South Melbourne and sold their shoes to various shoe stores including the Wittner's Shoe Store in Swanston Street (Wittner's daughter married the later Sir Zelman Cowan.) Stanio was paid by the piece and as it was his trade, he worked quickly and acquired a good wage for the time. Mr Zemancheff's grand-daughter Angie recalls workers complaining they couldn't make as many shoes as Stanio in the same time frame.

In 1935 Stanio was living at 116 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, and by September 1935 his address was recorded as 248 Brunswick Street Fitzroy. During August of that year Stanio was naturalised as an Australian citizen. After seeing a photograph of Dorotea Georgi Touzou from Greece, he requested permission for her to enter Australia for the purpose of marriage. Correspondence records state that he had to pay a 100 pound bond until proof of marriage was produced. On 9th February 1936, 17 year old Georgi arrived on the Orontes and on the 16th February she and Stanio were married at the Greek Orthodox church on Victoria Parade. Now living at 232 Napier Street Fitzroy, Stanio applied for Georgi's cousin Katina Grigorio to migrate from Greece to Australia. The donor (Stanio's daughter) remembers her father recalling about this time as having his own 'little factory' (perhaps more of a cottage industry). The family lived upstairs, while downstairs Georgi, Katina and another sister (who also talked of this time) wove the uppers and Stanio crafted and completed the shoe assembly. Various samples of these shoes were placed within a small case and then taken to Sydney and Tasmania for prospective clients' viewing and purchase.

It appears that Stanio and Georgi were living in Broken Hill, New South Wales by 1942, when their daughter Nancy Vasileff was born. In 1945, Stanio purchased property there. This move to a drier climate was based on doctor's advice for improving Georgi's ill health, however in July 1945 she passed away. Initially Stanio worked as a shoe repairer at the back of his shop that sold footwear and, as he mended boots for the miners, he was given an exemption from call-up during World War II. However at around the same time, Government authorities approached VG Zemancheff to turn his factory into an ammunitions factory. However, uncomfortable with this proposition, he closed his factory and purchased a farm. In 1946 Stanio applied for Georgi's sisters Efterpy and Roxani Touzou to come to Australia (Georgios Touzou was their father's name) as well as a Maria Mileva from Yugoslavia (the family do not know who she is), however they did not come. At about this time Stanio made handbags to sell and also dabbled at the odd pair of shoes or sandals for friends and/or family.

In 1950 Stanio and Nancy moved to Adelaide where he built a home and two shops. He worked in one, a shoe retail store, and the other, a shoe repair store, until his death in 1978. According to the donor, the Fancy Basket Shoes Co may have been started by a former employee of VG Zemancheff by the name of Petrov who copied the shoes but was not patented and a court case ensued between the parties. By 1952 the business had either closed or changed names or had been put out of business by the legal challenge.

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  • Shoe Pattern Piece, Boot Pattern, 1950s Object

    Shoe Pattern Piece, Boot Pattern, 1950s

    This hand-cut ankle boot pattern has been created on thick quality cream paper most likely used by Stanio Fancoff for creating his various shoes. Stamped with S.Fancoff and his Adelaide ...

    Images: 4
  • Shoe Pattern Piece, Vamp and Side Pattern, 1930s-1970s Object

    Shoe Pattern Piece, Vamp and Side Pattern, 1930s-1970s

    This hand-made shoe pattern piece is generated from brown paper and was most likely used by Stanio Fancoff in the creating of his various shoe styles sometime between the 1930s and 1970 ...

    Images: 2
  • Shoe Pattern Piece - Toe, Vamp & Side Pattern, 1930s-1970s Object

    Shoe Pattern Piece - Toe, Vamp & Side Pattern, 1930s-1970s

    This hand made shoe pattern piece is generated from brown paper and was mostly likely used by Stanio Fancoff within the production of his various shoe styles sometime between the 1930s ...

    Images: 2
  • Reel of Cotton - Brown Thread, 1930s-1970s Object

    Reel of Cotton - Brown Thread, 1930s-1970s

    This large timber reel with its shallow conical shaped ends stores a sheath of brown cotton most likely used by Stanio Fancoff in the stitching of his various shoes and boots. Along wit ...

    Images: 1
  • Reel of Cotton - White Thread, 1930s-1970s Object

    Reel of Cotton - White Thread, 1930s-1970s

    This large timber reel with its steep conical shaped ends stores a sheath of white/cream cotton most likely used by Stanio Fancoff in the stitching of his various shoes and boots. Along ...

    Images: 1
  • Ball of Thread - Unwaxed, Shoemaking, 1930s-1970s Object

    Ball of Thread - Unwaxed, Shoemaking, 1930s-1970s

    This ball of unwaxed cream thread was used by Stanio Fancoff within the stitching of his various shoes and boots. Along with many other sewing instruments, this ball of thread was an in ...

    Images: 1
  • Shoe Trees - Blue Aluminium, 1930s-1970s Object

    Shoe Trees - Blue Aluminium, 1930s-1970s

    Alternative Name(s): Shoetrees This pair of blue aluminium shoe trees were most likely used by StanioFancoff to help maintain the shoe's original shape and help prevent creasing and cr ...

    Images: 2
  • Shoe Last - Wooden, Right Foot, 1930s-1970s Object

    Shoe Last - Wooden, Right Foot, 1930s-1970s

    This right foot solid timber shoe last is the form in which Stanio Fancoff's various shoes were moulded upon between the 1930s and1970s. Although many shoes can be made on the same shoe ...

    Images: 3
  • Shoe Last - Wooden, Left Foot, 1930s-1970s Object

    Shoe Last - Wooden, Left Foot, 1930s-1970s

    This left foot solid timber shoe last is the form in which Stanio Fancoff's various shoes were moulded upon between the 1930s to 1970s. This shoe last allows the moulding of multiple sh ...

    Images: 5
  • Leather Sample Remnant- Upper Shoe, Cream, 1930s-1970s Object

    Leather Sample Remnant- Upper Shoe, Cream, 1930s-1970s

    This supple, camel/cream coloured leather remnant appears sporadically cut and indicates the types of leathers and colours that StanioFancoff used within his shoemaking business between ...

    Images: 2
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