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Toppers Unite

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Very sound approach, Andy. I say that the brim binding needs replacing because I have been told by Patey and Ascot Top Hats that the old ribbon would de damaged on removal (either because it is already worn or that the removal process would weaken it to the point of disintergration) but I cannot see how one cannot preserve it if you just be very careful. I suppose I would remove the trimmings before sending it to Patey's or godknowswhere.

In any case, I'd only attempt it is I got a proper brim iron as that is small enough to reach the curves of the brim rather than a massive household iron. I have a topper that needs the merino replacing as well due to extensive moth.

The merino is wool twill/serge and I suppose it can be had from many fabric stores.

That's exactly right. On the topper where I replaced the brim binding, the areas of the ribbon that hadn't been rubbed away from 100+ years of constant wear and tear, were quite flexible and strong, and if a topper still has intact brim binding I can see no reason why it would not be salvageable. My guess is it's more trouble for them to save it, instead of just slicing it off, so they refuse in order to save themselves some time and effort, at the unfortunate cost of historical authenticity.

The inner brim/crown is a difficulty or impossible without a proper hat iron, I can't argue with you there.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Thanks for the heads up! I might buy one, but I fear shipping costs with an item that heavy, though it may be the cheapest way to repair small dents. Also, what sort of block do they use to re-block top hats? Presumably it can be used on multiple sizes and shapes of hats as they can't possibly keep every conceivable block shape...
 

Charlie Huang

Practically Family
Messages
612
Location
Birmingham, UK
They use a thing called a half block which is fitted onto a potance frame that attaches to the table. There are several shapes for half blocks that slot into the frame: full bell, semi-bell and straight. There is also a tip block for blocking the tip.

190570_10150113121652063_688147062_7082608_964200_n.jpg
 

Jedwbpm

One Too Many
Messages
1,031
Location
West Coast Florida
Here are some of the Toppers hanging out in my Masonic Lodge for Worshipful Masters to use.
2011-11-15_21-14-51_396.jpg

2011-11-15_21-15-05_923.jpg

2011-11-15_21-15-21_889.jpg

2011-11-15_21-15-36_644.jpg

Some are in better shape then others. This was just a quick sampling.

Jeff
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Here are some of the Toppers hanging out in my Masonic Lodge for Worshipful Masters to use.
2011-11-15_21-14-51_396.jpg

2011-11-15_21-15-05_923.jpg

2011-11-15_21-15-21_889.jpg

2011-11-15_21-15-36_644.jpg

Some are in better shape then others. This was just a quick sampling.

Jeff

They don't have any extra large ones in good shape that they'd part with by any chance? ;-)
 

Charlie Huang

Practically Family
Messages
612
Location
Birmingham, UK
BTW, forgot to post images of the top hat bucket I bought a while back:

215166_10150147877667063_688147062_7182949_1601555_n.jpg

216900_10150147877767063_688147062_7182952_5837441_n.jpg

217400_10150147877547063_688147062_7182948_7379388_n.jpg


£150 (with key!)

The condition was okay. The leather was cracking so I applied some clear shoe polish to rehydrate the leather and now it is in good order. Also managed to get the locksmith to make an extra key (they had to fish out an old Victorian key to file down as they don't make keys of this type anymore.)
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
That's a great photo!... all those little bodies helps to clarify why it's hard for many to get a good fit from old vintage hats.

Yeah the larger hat sizes of today probably have a lot to do with superior nutrition. They also seemed to wear their hats higher in many cases back in the day than is thought to be normal now.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Here are some photos I took of the top hat I've restored. I replaced the brim binding and sweatband, built a new silk lining with a reproduction of the manufacturer's logo (the original lining was in bad shape, so I took it out to avoid any further damage and to make the hat look nicer), dusted, cleaned and heat polished the silk, and pushed out and heat-smoothed a number of dents. I also reshaped the brim, which had flattened at the front and back, and conformed it to my head shape. Unfortunately, I was unable to entirely remove a few fine lines on the back of the crown, however my renovation significantly improved the shape of the crown and eliminated most deformations.

photo-1.jpg

photo-4.jpg

photo-5.jpg


Edit: the photos are low res because I took them with an ipad camera.
 
Last edited:
Messages
17,188
Location
Maryland
Looks fantastic! Do you have any suggestions to clear this rippling?

6391198953_ea237de846_z.jpg


I haven't tried any type of advanced polishing. I am not sure if this is silk or fur since P. & C. Habig Wien produced both types. The over all condition is excellent.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
The hat I restored above was fairly clean, its main asset was that the silk was perfect without any rubbing on the edges. However I have other top hats that had quite a bit of dust in the silk, which caused what appears to be a similar effect. I bought a soft bristle hatbrush from Lock & Co, but any reasonably soft hogs bristle brush should be able to clean it (brushes for top hats tend to be expensive, but they fit nicely into the brim edge and so may be useful for that area). I have a very beat up german topper i've been testing things on, and an old toothbrush worked quite nicely to get some deep dirt out, though use it at your risk. Try brushing it out vigorously and thoroughly with a soft bristle brush, or if you've tried that already and it had no effect, you can try cleaning it out with dry cleaning chemicals, but I haven't tested it so I wouldn't recommend until I have a chance to try it on the test topper. For non invasive polishing, try the dry polish methods using first a velvet polishing pad, and failing that (or in addition to that, to add more lustre) a hot smooth silk pad (see CHwolfenblood's article on polishing for details on this method). If the hat is clear of dust then it may be ingrained filth from old polish or very fine dust like tobacco tar.

I don't use invasive polishing methods. The water polishing method seems to stiffen the silk (as I have experienced with my test hat, and it sometimes makes the silk rise up in a weird scaly effect), and the tallow polishing method apparently makes the hat smell like beef.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Note: a wide, thin hogs bristle paintbrush from the hardware store with reasonably soft bristles might suffice if you don't want to shell out a fortune for a topper brush.
 
Messages
17,188
Location
Maryland
Thank you for the reply and info! I would guess it is dust because it appears like it was hardly ever worn. The overall condition is close to mint. I assume you brush with the grain? I will look into the Lock & Co brush.
 

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