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Toppers Unite

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Yes you do brush with the grain, though if the dust is really in there you can be a tad firm with it. The lock & co is an expensive brush, especially given that it's just a basic hogs bristle brush shaped with a curve for the brim. The Patey brush is more reasonably priced and comes with a velvet pillow, however, the overseas shipping fees Patey charges are much higher than lock, so I found the best bargain was to get the lock brush. Again, I have examined the bristles and they do not differ much from a standard hogshair paintbrush, the only differences are shape and quantity.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Just got this awesome top hat in the mail. Crown is almost 7 inches tall. The tip is brown silk, while the rest is black silk. I've never seen a top hat with multicoloured silk plush used, might be quite rare. At first I thought it was sun-damage that lightened it, but on close inspection it follows the edge seam exactly, not the corner. No rubbing anywhere, appears to have been made in the 1860s-1870s, though someone with more historical knowledge than I have is welcome to chime in. Size 7 1/4.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/19059808654...NX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_500wt_1179

One side is slightly dented, and there is a seam where a mourning band was stitched onto it at one point, and the silk is compressed an inch and a half below the top of the cylinder all the way around the circumference of the crown from the presence of the same, but that should brush/polish out easily. The brim retains its shape because it has been consistently kept in a top quality leather bucket.

There are a few dents, but otherwise this is quite a find!

stove1.jpg

sideview.jpg

front-view.jpg

seam-of-the-mourning-band.jpg

This dent will be easy to fix, and I will take the thread out and brush the silk out.

bucket1.jpg

bucket2.jpg

bucket4.jpg

lining.jpg
 
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Charlie Huang

Practically Family
Messages
612
Location
Birmingham, UK
Very good toppers you have there and I like the brown tip one! I would actually make a wider hatband for it as the very thin one doesn't suit it at all...
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Very good toppers you have there and I like the brown tip one! I would actually make a wider hatband for it as the very thin one doesn't suit it at all...

I'm fairly sure that was the fashion at the time, at least that's what I've seen on a number of photos of hats from the 1870s. It's all original. I'm curious if anyone on here (especially topper specialists) have seen any hats with a similarly coloured tip.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Got fed up with trying to find a silk topper that would fit me, so I decided to get a Christys' Taller Melusine hat as they offer the highest quality with the lowest price relative to Lock and Patey (Olney melusine toppers are short, badly blocked, and look to be made of inferior felt. Also the brims aren't as good). Got an excellent price on it from http://www.thehatcompany.com/. Cheapest place I could find one. If you live in north America and buy on eBay, they refund you 30 pounds off the list price because there's no VAT. The hat is really excellent quality, though as with my Christys' bowler I had to reshape the brim just ever so slightly. Polished fur toppers aren't as shiny as silk, but the fur is quite rich regardless, and it fits perfectly, which was the whole point.

screen-shot-2011-12-12-at-9-23-08-pm.png


Edit: I was unsatisfied with the shine on the top hat when it arrived (the sides and brim fur had been scuffed in transit to the point that they were nearly matte). I tried the usual tricks of brushing and velvet padding, neither of which worked. I don't like the idea of tallow polishing a pure felt hat, so I decided to try a gentle water polish on the melusine. The results were excellent! Not only did it shine the hat quite well, but when the water evaporated the hat retained the shine, contrary to what I've been told before.

First, I took a paper towel and folded it into a square. Then i wetted it, not to the point it was sopping, but just enough that it would leave water on the surface of the felt. Then i dragged it counterclockwise (with the grain) around the circumference of the hat. The first swipe made an impressive change:

halfpolish.jpg


After this initial success I quickly finished the entire hat:

dscn1375.jpg


But how well would the shine hold after it dried? I've heard from many that a melusine topper won't hold a shine from a water polish. While it doesn't to the same extent as a silk topper, it held the shine extremely well when it was dry:

dscn1386.jpg


Here is a direct comparison of the pre and post polish hat:

Before:
rscn1363-e1323805860238.jpg


After:
dscn13821-e1323805918996.jpg
 
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Joshbru3

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,409
Location
Chicago, IL
1890's The May Co.

This one needs some major ironing for the creases, but the silk is in excellent condition with NO wear marks. The original price tag says that the hat cost $13.50 when new.

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newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
This one needs some major ironing for the creases, but the silk is in excellent condition with NO wear marks. The original price tag says that the hat cost $13.50 when new.

That topper looks to be in excellent condition, great job! Did you get it on eBay? The brim is in particularly good condition, though it might do with a slight reshaping. I think it would be totally worth it to get the hat re-blocked, if it fits you, given that the silk is perfect and so is the binding.

Some general advice for top hat photography for all fans of top hats: try taking a pic of it next to a window or some other light source shining down from the side of the photo. This shows off the silk's reflective properties to best effect, whereas a flash catches every stray strand and leaves a single highlight line directly down the middle of the hat, which has 3 negative consequences:
1) makes any minor structural flaws very obvious even if they would not be visible in daily wear,
2) makes slight, natural shifts in he silk pile look like dents and flaws,
3) obscures all of the silk that is not directly in the line of fire of the flash highlight.
 

Joshbru3

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,409
Location
Chicago, IL
That topper looks to be in excellent condition, great job! Did you get it on eBay? The brim is in particularly good condition, though it might do with a slight reshaping. I think it would be totally worth it to get the hat re-blocked, if it fits you, given that the silk is perfect and so is the binding.

Some general advice for top hat photography for all fans of top hats: try taking a pic of it next to a window or some other light source shining down from the side of the photo. This shows off the silk's reflective properties to best effect, whereas a flash catches every stray strand and leaves a single highlight line directly down the middle of the hat, which has 3 negative consequences:
1) makes any minor structural flaws very obvious even if they would not be visible in daily wear,
2) makes slight, natural shifts in he silk pile look like dents and flaws,
3) obscures all of the silk that is not directly in the line of fire of the flash highlight.

Thanks for the tips!! I always have a hard time photographing top hats and velours. This hat was an ebay find without knowing the size. It does fit on my head, it just sits a bit higher than my fedoras, but I believe its suppose to. I was thinking about getting it re-blocked, but my BIGGEST fear is that whoever does the re-blocking will want to or have to replace the sweatband, which I don't want. The sweatband is perfectly soft and supple just as the day it was purchased. I doubt the hat was worn much at all, the creases are most likely due to the fact that somebody through the years put a heavy box on top of the box that this hat was contained in.
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
... I was thinking about getting it re-blocked, but my BIGGEST fear is that whoever does the re-blocking will want to or have to replace the sweatband, which I don't want. The sweatband is perfectly soft and supple just as the day it was purchased....

That would be my big fear also. Hat blocking is expensive too, especially if you have to send it overseas (50 sterling minimum in England, plus shipping there and back). If it sits a bit high, you might try ebay to find a larger size one in good shape for as much or less than the price of blocking it would be, then if you are satisfied try re-selling this one for a profit.
 

BR Gordon

One Too Many
Messages
1,152
Location
New Mexico
What a beautiful find Alan. Make sure you get photos when you get the white tie and tails to go with it. I hope you have the opportunity to wear it for an evening out.

BR
 

newturnofphrase

One of the Regulars
Messages
251
Location
Canada
Thanks BR and Andy!

Andy, what is your size?

Hey Alan,

7 1/2 - 7 5/8 US size. Really depends on the conform and whether I've had a haircut recently, and it also depends on the style of the hat. I can wear 7 1/4 fedoras just fine, but not toppers/bowlers.

-Andy
 

Nick D

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,166
Location
Upper Michigan
I recently won a grey topper off eBay, I'll post pictures when I have my camera back. It's got a very nice curve to the crown.

The only problem is, I'm a bit long oval so it fits front to back but I've had to pad the sides. Pretty much all my hard shell and semi-stiff hats are a bit wide, and I think it'll do just fine until I find one that's a perfect fit.

A link to the auction, the condition is a bit better than in the photos, most of the scuffs on the crown brushed out well. The box has polishing pads for a black topper and a third-class train luggage tag.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/350526612123?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649
 
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