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Bon-Ton Ivy Sweatbands for Boaters and Derbies

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Brad Bowers, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Brad Bowers

    Brad Bowers I'll Lock Up

    Regarding the sweatbands that utilize a lacy filigree sort of cotton webbing to attach the leather to the hat, I finally discovered some more information about this style of sweatband, shown here on a Dobbs Boater and a Cavanagh Derby:


    The style was known as a “Bon-Ton,” or “Bon-Ton Ivy,” depending on patent dates. Those names actually were the brand names used by the Hat Manufacturers’ Supply Co., Ltd., of Stockport, England, but as so often happens with consumer products, the brand names became generic nouns throughout the business for sweatbands of that type. The sweatband consists of a cotton web that lets the leather ride inside the hat, and there is also an elastic string inside the sweatband that can be adjusted for the best fit.

    From what I’ve found, they were first patented in 1904, with a couple of other patents in 1921 after the expiration of the first. It was one of the second patents that used the name Bon-Ton Ivy.

    The Hat Manufacturers’ Supply Co. did a booming business around the world for their sweatbands, and ended up establishing manufacturing facilities outside of England to keep up with demand. Authentic Bon-Ton sweatbands will be stamped as such. I’m guessing that if they aren’t stamped, they are made by competitors after the expiration of the first patent in 1921.

    They were used mostly on Boaters to provide a more comfortable fit, as they would conform to the wearer’s head very easily, allowing for slight variations in head size, as well as ventilation. It’s not surprising that they turned up on Derbies, as any hard hat could benefit from this.

    My Cavanagh and Dobbs are not stamped from the factory, so I’m assuming that C&K ended up either making their own or buying them from a supply house.

    I don’t know the heyday of these types of sweatbands, but it appears the ‘20s were probably the height. I know sales of Derbies plummeted precipitously in the Depression, and can only imagine the same for Boaters, though Boaters might have stuck around longer. Given the number of Derbies and Boaters that pass through the Lounge in any given month, it’s surprising that more of these haven’t turned up. Perhaps most of them rotted out, and were then tossed. I’d say that they are somewhat rare today, and if you run across one, treasure it.

    I know my Cavanagh dates between 1928 and 1936, and I may have to revise the date on my Dobbs Boater. I had originally guesstimated the age at circa 1940, but that was on the basis of the initials in the sweatband and the owner’s birth year. Everything else about the hat says it’s up to a decade or more earlier.

  2. Lefty

    Lefty I'll Lock Up

    Very nice, as usual. :eusa_clap
  3. AEH

    AEH One of the Regulars

    Aero Flex

    Very interesting!

    I don't know if you saw my post in the Bowler/Darby thread about my Mallory with "Mallory Registered Aero Flex"?
  4. Brad Bowers

    Brad Bowers I'll Lock Up

    Yep, that's the same technology! Looks like Mallory just gave it their own name.

    What other examples do Loungers out there have?

  5. sproily

    sproily Practically Family

    I have a 1920's Austin Reed boater with the Bon-Ton Ivy sweatband. Or more like 'had' since it crumpled and came off when I began steaming it. :eusa_doh:

    By the way, I'd like to have a replacement sweatband but wouldn't want to send it all the way across the pond.. Would anyone have any idea what to stick inside it?
  6. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender






    view from the back of the hat. Off center frayed edge bow.
  7. mikespens

    mikespens Call Me a Cab

    A very belated: that is a superb example Spencer.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  8. From a C&K derby:

  9. How old is that, Alan? Aside from the craft/quality it looks as if was manufactored yesterday. Beautiful!
  10. Thanks... 1920s I believe. It is in excellent condition - found in the derby cabinet at my wife's costume shop. Additional pictures posted here and here.
  11. I have some early 20th Century Euro stiff straws (French, German, Austrian) with similar sweatbands. There aren't any trademarks or patents listed.
  12. LoL ... I actually had a pending question on that cabinet and your collection of derbys. Does your wife sell or hire out costumes?
  13. mikespens

    mikespens Call Me a Cab

    An even superber example Alan. And spell check didn't argue.
  14. No... it's a professional theatrical shop. Most of the hats in stock have been savaged from creative adaptation. But there were several wonderful pieces hiding. I traded for a couple that fit me. I do have a sizable collection of derbies at home. I went to therapy for that.

    Thanks Mike.
  15. buler

    buler My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Found this Lee Lite derby with a variation of the Bon Ton sweatband mixed with the unstitched/open front like a Borsalino.

    You can read the patent here: Lee Cushion Patent




    Attached Files:

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