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Monday, 8 June 2015



The ancestor of all hats was probably the fillet. This was a band tied around the head to keep the hair in place. It was worn in ancient Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece.

Turbans and crowns developed from the fillet and today it survives as the band on our hats.

Probably the first real hat was the broad-brimmed petasos of the ancient Greeks. It was worn only for traveling, as a protection against the weather. A chin strap held the petasos on or allowed it to hang down the back when not needed.

The petasos was so practical that people all over Europe continued to wear it throughout the Middle Ages.

During the Renaissance men of wealth began to wear hats of various shapes, richly decorated to match the rest of their splendid clothes.

The beret originated in Italy during the Renaissance era. It was originally made of a circular piece of cloth gathered onto a band decorated with jewels or embroidery. Inside the band was a string, which could be tightened to fit any head. The tiny bow on the inside of men's hats today is a survival of that string.

The wearing of hats was made compulsory on Sundays and holidays in early seventeenth century Britain, in order to preserve the livelihood of the country's 8,000 hat makers,

Notorious early 18th-century English pirate Benjamin Hornigold once attacked a sloop just to steal all of the crew member's hats. His men had gotten drunk and lost their hats during a party the night before and decided to board a ship to get replacements.

Mad hatters were common in the 18th century because hat makers used mercury to process beaver and rabbit fur and many succumbed to mercury poisoning. The disease gave all the appearances of lunacy beginning with the shakes followed by mental aberrations.

The small bow found inside of many hats is a symbolic memorial to past hatters who had died of mercury poisoning.

When furs from America became plentiful, men of fashion began to wear the wide-brimmed beaver hat, trimmed with drooping ostrich plumes. To show off their curls, they turned up the brim--first on one side and later on two sides. This was called "cocking the hat." Finally they turned up the back also, forming the tricorne. The tricorne was popular throughout the eighteenth century.

Tricorne of beaver fur, c. 1780, Europe or America. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M.67.8.204.

James Hetherington was charged with a breach of the peace on the Strand, London, in 1797 for wearing the first top hat in public, which was ‘calculated to disturb timid people’.

Men’s hats were taxed in the UK from 1784-1811. The tax payable depended on the price of the hat.

The Derby hat modeled after the English bowler was first manufactured by James Knapp at South Norwalk, Connecticut in 1850.

The origin of the Derby hat's name is disputed. Some claim it came from England's Earl of Derby, who popularized its style, whilst others say it's from the famous English horse race.

Abraham Lincoln kept his important documents inside his hat.

During the mid nineteenth century, fashion-conscious English ladies wore hats made of whole stuffed pheasants or grouse.

Hatpins began to replace bonnet strings in about 1860. On top of their elaborate hairdress women started pinning small porkpies, covered with trimming.

John B Stetson created the Stetson hat in 1865 after being diagnosed with tuberculosis and moving to the American West for the climate. He realized the cowboys' various headgear was impractical and came up with a lightweight, all-weather hat suitable for the West.

Prince Edward (the future King Edward VII) introduced the homburg hat to Britain, an idea borrowed from his German relatives. He also popularized the wearing of the bowler hat in town.

The Trilby hat takes its name from George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby. Such a hat was worn in the first London stage production of the book.

Factory production of women's hats began after World War I, when block and diemakers began to produce highly styled wood head blocks and metal dies in all sizes.

The Church of England abolished in 1942 its rule forcing women to wear hats in church.

When Dr. Seuss was stuck writing his books, he would go to a secret closet filled with hundreds of hats and wear them till the words came.


Tipping the hat comes from the military salute, which in turn comes from men in armor lifting the visor to show their faces.

A ten-gallon hat actually holds a little less than one gallon.

London black cabs are designed to be tall enough for a gentleman to sit in without the need to remove his top hat.

Instead of giving the keys to the city to visiting dignitaries, the mayor of Calgary "white hats" to them.

The “pink hat man” is Jim Anixter who owns Chicago Cub’s tickets. He sits behind the home plate wearing a pink hat so his wife knows that he is at the game and not cheating.

A milliner makes or sells women’s hats. A maker of men’s hats is a hatter.

The tall white chef hats traditionally have 100 pleats to represent the hundreds of ways an egg can be prepared.

Russians tend to lower the ear flaps on their fur hats when the temperature falls below –20C.

Sources Daily Express,  Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

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