The Herbert Johnson Poet

Discussion in 'Hats' started by geo, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. geo

    geo Registered User

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    It's well known as the Indy hat, but its story goes beyond just Indy. I think everybody knows the story of how Ford and Spielberg walked into the HJ shop in London to get a hat for the character, and how the staff at HJ recomended the Poet, because it was their oldest hat model still in production, except for the topper and bowler. HJ sais that the Poet is made since the end of the 19th century (1890's), and that made me think of this: in John Glasworthy's "Forsyte Saga-The Man of Property" the bohemian architect Bossiney is introduced to the conservative Forsyte family, and family members are shocked because Bossiney was wearing a soft felt hat, as opposed to top hats and bowlers worn by gentlemen. Could Bossiney's hat have been a HJ Poet? I think yes, since it was made in the 1890's, and the name "Poet" goes well together with a character such as Bossiney.
     
  2. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Does anyone have a picture of one of these original 'poet' hats. I read at some site. maybe HJs, that the hat they showed Spielberg and Ford (Harrison, of course) had a 50mm grosgrain ribbon:eek:, they lowered the crown and trimmed the brim, and I think they removed a bound edge but I'm not sure about that. Anyone have some info and/or pics of the hat they modified?

    dean
     
  3. punkinhed

    punkinhed New in Town

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    Is this a Poet?

    Sounds like a question out of Shakeapeare, huh?

    Do these HJs look like they might be Poets?

    now, to see if I can post photos....

    http://pictures.aol.com/galleries/email4kh/

    The gray one is not as blue as the bluest photo nor as silver as the silverist. It's more battleship, I guess. 61cm
    The darker one has a deep green tint that wanders into the brown and is 60cm.

    Kevin
     
  4. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Could be. I'm sure they said the ribbon was 50 mm grosgrain, which they reduced to 39mm for Indy's hat. Thank you for the pictures. Nice hats!

    dean
     
  5. punkinhed

    punkinhed New in Town

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    Thx. I think the darker one is my favorite. The ribbon on it is actually about 49mm and the lighter one's ribbon is about 45mm. Any suggestions on a bash of the darker one? I must admit that, while I've been trying different ones, I've come to favor it more unbashed. Next step....searching here for lining cleaning.
     
  6. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    How about a center dent with shallow side dents? Just a thought. Unbashed gives it a unique, bowlerish look. Not bad as it is. I'll bet it's the slight taper the crown has, plus what appears to be a rather low crown, compared to the Indy hat, that makes bashing it difficult to settle on.

    dean
     
  7. geo

    geo Registered User

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    They certainly look like a Poet. What period do they date from? The ones from the early 80's, which they used in Raiders, had a white lining with a red logo. Judging by the liner, these seem to be older.
    Also, is the brim dimensionally cut, i. e. is it longer in the front and back that it is on the sides? The Poet had a 3 in brim I believe, which they trimmed and cut dimensionally for the Indy hat, together with changing the ribbon to a narrower one, to make the hat look taller.
     
  8. punkinhed

    punkinhed New in Town

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    HJ ID

    Not sure about the date. Any assistance with HJ dating would be appreciated! The brim on the darker one is 2.25" with no dimensional change. It's the only one of the two with any hidden markings--a tag under the lining. The lighter is 3" with no change with a crown about 5.25".

    Thanks!
    Kevin
     
  9. geo

    geo Registered User

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    The second HJ is very interesting, it's got a peculiar shade of grey. I think that is the hat Indy wore in the aircraft in Raiders, only with a higher crown. You might want to post the pictures on indygear, (link: http://www.indygear.com/cow/viewforum.php?f=1&sid=671f75e5fa04b456d8f9ad2cbd00cfbf) they have a huge debate going about whether the hat in the aircraft was grey or brown Your second hat seems to be an important piece of evidence.
     
  10. Flash Gordon

    Flash Gordon Familiar Face

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    New York
    You can see the "Poet" on Hugh Laurie's head as Bertie in the "Jeeves and Wooster" series. It's now on DVD, so you can freeze frames for a better view. He wears a grey one in many episodes. One I can think of off the top of my head is "Jeeves Saves the Cow Creamer". The series is not only good for looking at the beautiful clothes, but its darned funny as well.
     
  11. geo

    geo Registered User

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    Punkinhead, would it be OK with you if I posted a link to this thread at Indygear, of if I posted there the link to the pictures that you posted here?
     
  12. Fedora

    Fedora Vendor

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    Here's some HJs. I think the hat at 7 o'clock is what was used for the first Indy film. Then, they used the one at 4 o'clock for the next two films. Totally different blockshapes. Fedora

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Alan Eardley

    Alan Eardley One Too Many

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    Because of their 'bespoke' or custom status, Herbert Johnson's hat range 'in the old days' isn't what you would call standardised. There wasn't just one specific model called a Poet - it was more like a style or family of models having similar features. Two hats could be different clour, in a different felt, have a different ribbon, crown height, brim width and still both be Poets. Likewise with their other major style, the Romany. Of those pictured, the top example is probaby a Romany and the bottom one probably a Poet.

    Alan
     
  14. Alan Eardley

    Alan Eardley One Too Many

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    Let's have a go:
    War time to 1965 38 New Bond Street Dark shield label
    1965 to 1979? 10 Old Burlington Street Lighter shield label
    1979 to early1990s? 30 Old (or New) Bond Street Red oval label
    Early 1990s SAB takeover 54 St James's St, 67 Fleet St Not what they were

    Some of this is speculative, and is complicated by the fact that HJ have always had more than one premises. The address is on the label and sweatband and some styles (e.g. Romany) often have a tag with the style number and date inside the band. The early hats are good, the later ones less so. Generally, a Romany style has a narrow dimensionally-cut brim with a taper block and low crown - a horse racing hat with Gypsy origins. A Poet style has a wide brim, parallel block and high crown. There are 'bespoke' variations in alll styles, of course.

    Alan
     
  15. Fedora

    Fedora Vendor

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    [​IMG]


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    I have several old HJs, alll with the blue crest as shown above.(3rd pic) These hats are right up there in quality with many vintage hats. Two of the above crests can be found in the Indy fedoras, and the pentagon one is actually pictured in the last film. You can see the blue crest and the pentagon one in the Lucas Warehouse Walkthough video. My own blue crested HJs all have the 38 New Bond St address on the sweatband.
    I think you may be overlapping here. The oval label came out after the hats for The Last Crusade were picked up. I think the change may have happened between the first order placed by Lucas, and the last run made by HJ that were never picked up and used. Dakota from COW bought one of these and it had the oval crest. Had IJ on the sweat. But, none of these were in the Lucas warehouse. And the one time we get to see the crest in the Last Crusade film, it was clearly a pentagon.


    When Richard Swales said that the Poet was a very old block shape dating back to the 1800's, I am assuming they had a style of block, that was used on the Poet, and this is what they started from to create a particular hat? That is a Poet could have the same block shape, but the crown heights could vary on this shape, and of course they could vary the brim widths, and still be called Poets. Anyone who has studied the Indy fedoras will say the first film hat was a different block shape than the two films that followed. The Poets I have seen sold after the films all matched the Last Crusade fedora, that had more taper in the crown. I saw only one that matched the Raiders fedora, a straight sided hat, that Lee Keppler sold way back when he was buying from HJ and selling these hats. This was before the internet. But, he did not always get this block shape when ordering, as many were the tapered variety.

    Supposedly the first Indy hat, the costumer called their Australian model.(I always wondered if this was named in honor of Banjo Patterson, the famous Australian poet) Swales never mentioned that in his letters that he sent with a hat when ordered by the Indy guys. He said the hat started with a 3 inch brim that he dimensionally cut. We always thought this was done only for the Indy hat, due to camera angles. Are you saying HJ cut other hats with the dimensional cut? This is intriquing to me, personally. I have never personally seen a dimensionally cut brim, except for the Indy fedoras. Many thought this to be peculiar to the film hat, and there was an ulterior motive for doing so. But, with that said, I recall when I was first talking to Joe Jr. at Peter Bros, he had forgotten about the dimensional cut. So, it seems he knew about it, but must have been rare in American hats.

    The oval burgundy crest seen above came on many of the hats we bought from Swales in the 1990's. It is very similiar to the Borsalino crest in shape. This crest was never used in the Indy fedoras. Since HJ was contracting their hats out, I have heard Borsalino was actually making these with this particular crest, at least initially. Do you have any idea when HJ stopped making their own hats and sub contracted them out? I have seen many newer HJs from the 1990's up until today. I have reblocked scores of them. The felt in the 1990's was almost cowboy felt, with the amount of stiffener. The new HJs are very dress like in their felt but the stuff tapers with the slightness indication of rain. On the other hand, my vintage HJs are taper proof, just like all vintage hats. And the felt is very nice, and soft, unless you have a Homburg. Regards, Fedora
     
  16. geo

    geo Registered User

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    I think they called it the "Australian model" as a generic name for a type of hat that looks like a bush hat (wide brim, etc), just like one would call a fur hat with earflaps a "Russian hat", even though it would be made elsewhere.
     
  17. Fedora

    Fedora Vendor

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    Location:
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    That makes perfectly good sense!!! That never occured to us Americans, as we would have called it a western hat, with a larger brim. Point of reference is everything here.

    What is confusing too in dating HJs based upon location noted in the hat is Swales said that many times, they would use up the old sweats and liners before they would buy new ones denoting the new location. I always felt that the Raiders fedora with its blue crest was some old stock since the felt has totally different characteristics than what followed. Afterall, HJ like American hatters were not selling that many hats in the late 70's early 80's. The Indy films created a resurgence in hat sales, but most of us know that. It saved Stetson at the time, as well as other hat companies. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to those films. It brought the dress hat back, to a degree. Fedora
     
  18. Dakota Ellison

    Dakota Ellison New in Town

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    Location:
    Atlanta Ga
    Not long ago, there was an HJ for bid on ebay that was dated 1898, and it had the 38 New Bond St address on the liner/sweatband. I think before this they were at 45 Bond St. So that would put them at the 38 New Bond until 1965, when they moved to 13 Old Burlington st. Swales verified a hat I have as a Poet from 1972, by the paper sticker still under the sweatband. I had thought they were still at 13 Old Burlington til 1990 or so, as Fedora says, they were still using the pentagonal liner sticker in Last Crusade, filmed in 1988. This is in need of clarification, when HJ left 13 Old burlington for 10 Old Bond, then to 54 saint James, where they are now as Part of Swain Aideney Brigg.
    I have also thought that when Ms Nadoolman mentions the "Australian model", it was the Poet, which may have looked Australian to her.
     
  19. Fedora

    Fedora Vendor

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    Location:
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    Here's the blue crest, used at one time at 13 Old Burlington.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. punkinhed

    punkinhed New in Town

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    North Carolina
    Link away, Geo!

    Geo (and any others),
    Always feel free to link/quote/otherwise use any of my posts.
    Thanks to all for the input!
    Kevin
     

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