Beneluxury

Discussion in 'Hats' started by steur, Nov 8, 2020.

  1. steur

    steur

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    It has been a while in the making, but here is a thread dedicated to hats from the low countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Benelux in short and hence Beneluxury. Of the three Belgium was the most important player internationally where hats are concerned, but we'll see more of that as the postings roll in.
    I'll start off with this one:
    Zephyr homburg made by Staalmeester (made by Nehoefa, A Dutch manufacturer). Size 56 with the brim at 6cm and the crown at 10 at the center dent.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I'm thinking this one is pre-war, but it would be only just because the manufacturer was founded in 1937 in Laren, province of North Holland, but they moved to Bussum that same year. More on them later.

    Edit: if the Zephyr branding was supposed to mean it was lightweight, it has to be said that the hat is certainly not that at 136 grams.
    Zephyr as a brand, model or quality name is used so many times by various manufacturers that it can fill its own thread.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
  2. steur

    steur

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    Vimenet Frivol 65 gramm, size 57 with the bound brim at 6cm and the crown at 10cm at the center dent. Shark gill bow. There's a bit to tell about this one, but first the pics. The brim is curved a bit awkward because the stand is too wide for the hat (broke my previous stand).
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The model is called Frivol 65 gramm, but the hat weighs more than that, with 78 grams on the scales. Still a very lightweight hat. There's only been posted one of these before, by @alanfgag a few years back. This one:
    https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/post-new-hats-here.28145/page-1700#post-2280856
    The hats are of Belgian make.
    Alan believed his hat to be 1940's or 1950's, while the seller thought it was 1930's. I think the seller was right.
     
  3. steur

    steur

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    Vimenet part II

    The hat was sold by Witteveen of Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. The shop existed from 1926 until about 1961 (can't find any mention of them after that date).
    Here's their shop in probably the late fifties or early sixties.
    [​IMG]

    They advertised a similar hat in 1938:
    [​IMG]

    Apparently Stetson was on the upper side of the market; the other hats are all priced lower. The shop's emblem is exactly the same as the one on the hat, but they held on to the emblem until 1951, after which date it no longer appears. The "Leeson" hat mentioned in the advert is likely T&W Lees, of Stockport, which they advertised for in 1935. Oddly enough the light weight Vimenet was priced at the lower end.

    Now Vimenet was actually called "Peausserie et Couperie Belges" and fully with the addition "Sociéte anonyme pour la préparation des matières premières de la chapellerie". All of which means they were a company for the preparation and cutting of hides for the hatting-industry. Located in Brussels.
    Here's one of their stock certificates.
    [​IMG]

    First mention of them I've found is this Dutch newspaper of 1893 under the caption "De toestand in Belgie", where the Factory is mentioned as subjected to workers' strikes (or at least that the workers considered striking). It's mentioned that they employ 1400 workers and are named a hat factory. It's also mentioned that the management take a lenient stance towards the strikers. Similar newsclips can be found in 1912 and 1913, periods of substantial social unrest.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a mention of the company in the publication "Revue de chapellerie" of 1912 where de name is now "Société Anonyme Vimenet.
    [​IMG]

    The company was in liquidation in 1942 under German occupation, because the company was Jewish owned (could not download the full details on that, sorry). But it can be found for those who have access in this publication:
    "The Fragility of Law: Constitutional Patriotism and the Jews of Belgium, 1940-1945." Page 209 I believe.
    Postwar the company did not start up again and the finishing of the liquidation lasted into the postwar years. It gets mentioned in 1950 in the Belgian Official State publications.

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't get mentioned in any publication after that.
    I believe Alan's hat is the earlier one, based on the label, the sweatband imprint and the unreeded sweatband (if I see that correctly). The one I found was likely a later hat: late thirties (because of the similarity with the 1938 advert).

    This was all I had to go on buying it:
    [​IMG]
    Looked good and well done shark gill bow. Why not? Seller got it more than forty years ago from the Salvation Army store.
    Nice piece of history.
     
  4. steur

    steur

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    Another Staalmeester. This one a lords hat, probably of their post-war period.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    We tend to think of most hat-manufacturers as companies that have been around for ages and lasting a very long time. Not so for Nehoefa, short for Nederlandsche Hoedenfabriek (Dutch hat factory). As noted above, they were founded in 1937 in Laren and already went into liquidation in 1941 (the 31st of december) because they couldn't produce due to war-shortages of all materials.

    MMKB08_000164883_mpeg21_p012_image.jpg

    They were a very small outfit from the start. Here's a newspaper clipping from 1937, stating that they were estimating a production of 57.000 hats per year. That was however one sixth of all hats imported into the Netherlands at the time.
    The article also states that 7 foreign employees from France, Hungary and Austria were connected to the company to train the local workers. The total number of employees was to be 25.

    MMHCO01_000089759_mpeg21_p009_image.jpg

    Here's another article with more or less the same content, but this one explicitly states that the annual import of hats into the Netherlands was about 300.000 at that time.
    MMKB08_000110349_mpeg21_p011_image.jpg

    The company was owned by J.S. Meuwsen, a large hat-seller from Amsterdam. More on him in future posts. Here's a last article for now. In 1976 this articles muses on the question what happened to the hat in The Netherlands (and other countries). Nehoefa is mentioned as having stopped production of hats years ago and only acting as a wholeseller. The manager of the company blamed the car for the decline in hat-wearing. Apparently the company disappeared in the late seventies after they were hit by a fire. Haven't found any confirmation on that yet though.

    nehoefa.jpg
     
  5. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    Now I love the shape of Homburgs. Who would've thunk it?
     
  6. Daniele Tanto

    Daniele Tanto My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Grandissimi complimenti Stefan per questo lavoro storico-economico!
    A very interesting research of hat production in the Benelux. I really like to discover the fringes of European hats, neglected or little investigated, through historical work. I await other episodes and if I can be useful ...
     
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  7. Daniele Tanto

    Daniele Tanto My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I forget to mention this is my favourite of the trio
     
  8. steur

    steur

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    If you like hats, you'll eventually come to like homburgs, Max. There was never any doubt:)

    Grazie, Daniele. There is a great deal to discover, I'm sure, but not a lot has been documented so there's a challenge there.
     
  9. Pellie

    Pellie Practically Family

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    Great research!
     
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  10. steur

    steur

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    Thanks, Marcel.
     
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  11. steur

    steur

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    Along with another Staalmeester hat here's some other information where Nehoefa gets mentioned. But first the hat.
    Staalmeester lords hat in a size 57, with the brim at 6cm and the crown at 11,5cm. This one has a crown patch made of cloth. Wonderful hand to the felt and the brim curve is tighter than on the other one.

    staalmeester homburg_4.jpg staalmeester homburg_5.jpg staalmeester homburg_6.jpg staalmeester homburg_7.jpg staalmeester homburg_8.jpg staalmeester homburg_1.jpg staalmeester homburg_2.jpg staalmeester homburg_3.jpg

    As far as I've been able to recover Ravenhorst existed from 1925 until 1973. Here's an advert from 1930 in which it's mentioned that Ravenhorst has been able to make a success of his shop in the last five years.

    [​IMG]

    Now for the additional information. Here's a clipping from a newspaper from 1946. We know from Borsalino's history that The Netherlands had a large import of hats from Italy in the first post-war years. This article gives us the reason why: it was actually part of a compensation deal because of war-damages.
    volkshoeden 1946.jpg

    Here's the translation of the article.

    “Peoples hats” from Italy expected

    Gentlemen to receive headcoverings
    There will be an roaring cheer from the ranks of the approxiamately 1.800.000 men in the Netherlands who are cycling around now with a rainsoaked hat with wavy brim or even bareheaded. If the negotiations with Italy concerning the reparations for war-damages will be fruitfull – which is, so we are told by well-informed sources, highly likely – then 200.000 woolfelt hats from the sunny south will make their way to the Netherlands. This hat will be made available, as a “peoples hat”, in the shops for fl. 12,50.
    The last few months have seen an important shipment of Borsalino’s from Italy arriving in the Netherlands, along with some smaller shipments of hats from England, Portugal and Spain. Belgium will be able to deliver 5000 dozen and France 6 to 700 dozen in the very near future. Along with the manufacture from our own country there will be 400.000 hats available, which means that about 20% of the male population will be able to buy a new hat.
    Recently a number of hats with a value of 40.000 dollar has arrived from America, but the quality of these is judged less favourably, so we are assured. The Dutch hat-industry has come to a standstill since the beginning of the war due to the total lack of materials. Everything about the hat, the felt, the ribbon, the leather and even the shining label is sourced from other countries. Right now an important shipment of raw materials is on its way, enabling the most important Dutch hatmanufacturer, Nehoefa in Bussum, to resume production next month, right after just these last days the last of 250.000 refurbished old hats has been delivered, according to a statement of mr. Meuwsen, manager of Nehoefa.
    He further stated his opinion that the prices of hats were going to be twice as high as before.


    in a time when the average weeks wage was between fl. 70 and fl. 120 the hat was affordable, but not cheap. Mr Meuwsen was both right and wrong in his prediction: the prices of hats (and clothing in general) were tripled (not doubled) by 1946 compared to the pre-war year 1938.
    Interesting bit about both the refurbished hats and the assessment that the American hats were of lesser quality.
     
  12. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    Yo quiero uno de estos en talla 59, por favor, Stefan...
     
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  13. steur

    steur

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    Noted, Max!
     
  14. A long overdue thread and it's off to a hellova start. Kudos Stefan!
     
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  15. alanfgag

    alanfgag

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    Great stuff, great read Stefan... I wore my white Vimenet today in thanks. ;^)
     
  16. steur

    steur

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    Thank you, Bob. I hope i can unearth more info.

    Thank you, Alan. Your Vimenet deserves a place of honour here of course.
     
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  17. steur

    steur

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    A Belgian hat this time.
    Valensy homburg in black. Size 57 with the brim at 5cm and the crown 10cm at the center dent. Can't find an awful lot about this brand actually and the clues that it actually is Belgian are few. There is mainly the Belgian motto on the liner "Union fait la force" (in unity lies strength). The brand was around before the war: I found one dating from 1933 (the original bill came with it) and the latest mention I found of it was from 1965, about the time that the hatting industry was already in serious decline.
    Here's the hat (it currently resides in Copenhagen).

    valensy_1.jpg valensy_2.jpg valensy_3.jpg valensy_4.jpg valensy_6.jpg valensy_7.jpg valensy_8.jpg valensy_9.jpg

    Here's a poster I found online of the brand.
    Valensy_Chapeaux_Hoeden_Expo_58_1958_100x62.jpg

    And another piece of advertising I'm bidding on right now.
    valensy advertising.jpg
     
  18. steur

    steur

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    Well, I won the Valensy advertising piece. Here it is (I expect it to arrive sometime next week).
    A very odd piece: its a booklet with sheets of soap, meant for travelling.
    Apparently the brand came in four different qualities: heavy, medium, light and camping! There must have been a "standard" as well, because that was on the sweatband of the one posted above. The S.A. Aspasia, Winterthur is no clue to any more information about the brand, because it is actually a soap factory in Switzerland.

    valensy advertising.jpg valensy advertising2.jpg valensy advertising3.jpg
     
  19. Redfokker

    Redfokker

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    Very enjoyable thread Stefan! Love this kind of research. Gets my historian juices flowing!
     
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  20. steur

    steur

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    Thank you, Mike. Finding the information is just as much fun. Always gratifying to find another tiny piece of the puzzle.
     
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