Decade that was the peak of hat quality?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Levallois, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. Hal

    Hal Practically Family

    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    UK
    The decline in hat-wearing started a decade earlier in the UK; I cannot remember my father (died 1962) ever wearing a hat (he might have done before I was born).
     
    steur likes this.
  2. alanfgag

    alanfgag

    Messages:
    14,579
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Borsalinos from the 1930 and before are virtually non-existent. But I would guess that they, as did Stetson, made low priced hats to answer their low end competition from other manufacturers.

    I could easily say that hats back then were better than hats today. My buying habits would support saying that, as my vintage purchases outweigh my modern purchases 300 to 1. To my mind, though, better/worse, sucking and not sucking are not that helpful when comparing hats today with hats 100 years ago. Back then, demand created a hat industry, resources to drive it, competition to push quality and value on both ends of the price spectrum and innovation to improve materials and craftsmanship and to find new materials when the old ones were scarce. Back then almost every manufacturer had a felting department. Today, all makes make do with felt bodies from a handful of sources worldwide.

    If you want a hat that hasn't been worn before, modern hats are better. If you enjoy the characteristics of supple felt and the craftsmanship of yesteryear... or if you just enjoy the history of ephemera of extinct American retail as I do, vintage is definitely the way to go.
     
  3. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    I really like old lower price point hats. :)
     
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  4. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    15,905
    Location:
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    Another factor -> The companies that didn't cut / process their own fur where at a disadvantage.

    I was told by the last technical director Gustav Menschel of Ebreichsdorfer Filzhutfabrik / S. & J. Fraenkel Wien that nitrate of mercury pickled fur was still available in Europe up to the mid 1960s. Here is a translated excerpt from his unpublished book "Der Hut" (Unparalleled content!).

    "In a lecture held in Vienna on October 19, 1863, Dr. Alois Gruber pointed out the dangers in the production of hair. He also emphasizes the life-threatening circumstances of mercury poisoning. Despite all warnings, until the mid-1960s nitric acid solutions of mercury were used, although these develop mercury vapor during pickling and processing of the hair, which can lead to chronic mercury poisoning when inhaled. This eventually led to a ban on mercury pickling. Tin or zinc nitrate solutions are far less dangerous, but could not prevail.

    "Preparation of a Pickling Fluid": In a cool place where people are not standing, pour into a wide-mouth glass bottle of 12 liters of 8 kg nitric acid of 1.39 spec. And add 1 kg of mercury to it, and let the bottle stand still. The solution will be useful after 6 to 8 weeks. This mixture is intended for the so-called yellow stain; For the White Stain, one has to take more than 1 kg, 130 g of mercury more. For the coating, this concentrated solution must then be diluted with rain or distilled water in such a way that 8 parts of water are used per one part of the same. Since the evaporation of the pickling fluid is disadvantageous to the health, the work of laying the skins should always be carried out only in an airy space. The touch of the same with the bare hand must also be avoided. The skins treated with white stain by hand are then dried at air temperature treated with yellow stain at about 50 ° C. The stained skins are then placed on the side of the hair, pressed firmly together for several days, until cold.

    Today only hydrogen peroxide pickling is used, although mercury-pickled hair, stored for half a year (matured), is second to none in quality."
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  5. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

    Messages:
    15,905
    Location:
    Maryland
    If you want to see pelts/skins being brushed with nitrate of mercury go to the 5.58 of this Panizza video (probably worth taking a look at the entire video although some of what is being said is not accurate). The scratchy sepia tone sections are taken from the rare (this is the only place you will see it) Janyška & Cie. film on hand processing of fur and old felting methods.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1ej3DBl9PEfdmhUNXdBZGpxRE0/view
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
    steur, BobHufford, M Hatman and 2 others like this.

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