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Thread: Grades of Stetson dress hats/felt?

  1. #1
    Familiar Face
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    Grades of Stetson dress hats/felt?

    I'm somewhat familiar with Western hats and their grading systems (10x, 5x, etc) but was wondering what the hierarchy of Stetson dress hats. I've seen Royal, DeLuxe Royal, Soverign, Pinnacle, etc. but I'm foggy on what, if anything, they mean? Did this change over the years? Any info appreciated as I am considering beginning to collect vintage hats and want to be as well-informed as possible.
    Thanks,
    Jedidiah

  2. #2
    One of the Regulars thebroker's Avatar
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    Thank you for asking this question...it's something I've been wondering about for quite some time, and I look forward to seeing the replies!

  3. #3
    Practically Family Dewhurst's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I cannot answer your question in it's entirety but I can tell you this much:

    Royal quality is a low grade fur felt, the finishings are lower quality but durable. These are their low grade (think budget) fur felt dress models.

    Sovereign quality is a higher grade fur felt body, the finishings are of a higher quality than Royal. These are their high quality fur felt dress models.

    All Beaver quality (models include the Benchley and the Pinnacle) are all beaver fur felt bodies, with the highest quality finishings offered. These are their highest quality dress hats currently being offered.

    They also offer an Imperial quality fur felt, specifically on the Dexter model. I have heard that the Imperial bodies are positioned between Royal and Sovereign, but do not know if this is true. I have also heard that the Imperial bodies share more in common with the western bodies, but are being used in a dress model. I don't know if that is true either.

    Stetson also offers cashmere and fur felt mixtures which would be positioned below any of the fur felt models. AND they offer 100% wool models. You get the point.

    They have a lot of different finishes that they apply to various hat bodies as well.... so yeah...

    Any of this could be wrong, sorry.
    Last edited by Dewhurst; 12-07-2010 at 11:52 PM.
    Dewhurst

  4. #4
    One of the Regulars thebroker's Avatar
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    Dewhurst, you addressed my biggest question: the difference between Royal and Sovereign. I have owned a couple of Sovereign hats, but never a Royal, so I was unsure how the two compared.

    I own two of the cashmere/fur blend hats (both are the Lodi model, one mink and the other steel), and while they aren't nearly as nice as the better fur blends, they aren't bad at all, especially compared to Stetson's all-wool hats, which I do not care for at all. I bought one of the all-wool hats (the Fredrick), and the first time I wore it in the rain, it dimpled and the finish now looks horrible.

  5. #5
    Familiar Face Fedora Jay's Avatar
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    I've got two Stetsons now, a wool and a Chatham in Sovereign. The Sovereign is very nice, I'd call it a medium weight felt, with a nice finish. Its very supple (at least the brim is, I haven't had the heart to mess with crown as I really like the bash), and I had no trouble with it in the rain the other day.

    The wool is pretty good too, but it has a much coarser finish, is much heavier, and won't take a bash at all. But I like it anyhow, since it was my first real hat.

  6. #6
    One Too Many Mobile Vulgus's Avatar
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    Before someone here starts yelling at you....

    There are two threads on this that are chock full of good (but ultimately confusing) information. It appears that the problem is that Stetson changes their designations, adding some classes and taking others away, every couple of years. Plus as time went on what was the low class product seemed better made than the middle class product of a decade later. And the company has changed hands several times, too, which makes getting records from them impossible.

    Remember, Stetson is a business, not a scientific system. So any hat names or quality level appellations are meant to sell hats, not to serve as an easy classification system for collectors!

    The guys here at the Lounge have done some amazing work, but Stetson has not made it easy because they have never had a set system of quality markings and names.

    Here is what I've gleaned from those earlier threads...

    1922 (dress hats)
    Select Quality
    Excellent Quality
    No. 1 Quality
    Extra Quality
    Nutria Quality
    Real Nutria Quality
    3x Beaver Quality
    4x Beaver Quality
    5x Beaver Quality
    7x Beaver Quality

    1932 (dress hats)
    Excellent Quality
    Nutria Quality
    Real Nutria Quality
    3x Beaver Quality
    Stetson Special Quality
    4x Beaver Quality
    5x Beaver Quality
    7x Beaver Quality


    Late 1930s (dress hats)
    Standard Quality
    Select Quality
    Superior Quality
    Extra Quality
    3X Quality
    5X Clear Beaver Quality

    Late 1940s (dress hats)
    Royal
    Royal DeLuxe / Royal Stetson DeLuxe
    Medalist
    Sovereign
    Imperial
    Premier

    1955 (dress hats)
    Royal (10.00)
    Royal De Luxe (12.95)
    3X Beaver (15.00)
    Sovereign (20.00)
    Stetson 25 (25.00)
    4X Beaver (35.00)
    7X Beaver (50.00)
    Stetson 100 (100.00)

    1960s (westerns)
    No. 1 (10.00)
    Nutria (15.00)
    3X Beaver (20.00)
    4X Beaver (35.00)
    7X Beaver (50.00)
    Stetson 100 (100.00)

    You really need to check out those earlier threads because I only have a tiny bit of the great info they had there. Search for the Stetson Liners thread and Stetson Quality thread.

    *Edit to add:

    Here are the two important threads.

    Stetson Quality Experiment "Think Tank"

    Dating Vintage Stetson By Liner

    Really. You must read these. They are eye opening. Not that all your questions will be wrapped up with a nice, neat little bow, but you will get a sense of what you want to know. The main problem is that NO ONE knows the real answer to your question. Sadly, it isn't as easy as just saying this is this and that is that.
    Last edited by Mobile Vulgus; 12-08-2010 at 09:34 AM.

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