National Felt Hat Day is observed annually on September 15th.
Historically, men and women wore hats not just as protection from the elements, but also as status symbols. Warmer felt hats were donned this time of year, replacing the lighter, cooler straw hats. Etiquette dictated what hats were worn for which occasion. Donning and doffing the hat (mostly required for men) was a good behavior learned at an early age.
Primarily made from wool, felt can also be made from the fur of other animals such as rabbit and beaver. Beaver was popular during the 16th and 17th centuries, but over trapping depleted the population.
The phrase “a mad as a hatter” comes from the use of mercury nitrate in haberdasheries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Over time, daily exposure to this metal caused these tradesmen to develop dementia, tics and other symptoms causing people to believe they had gone mad.
Over the centuries, many styles of felt hats have made their debut. We can identify an era by many of them. The Quaker will quickly be identified by its buckle, and the stovepipe reminds most Americans of one of its most beloved presidents. Others have odd names such as pork pie, bowler and stingy brim.
- In the middle of 19th century baseball umpires wore top hats during the game.
- White tall chef hats traditionally have 100 pleats to represent hundreds of ways an egg can be prepared. They were invented by cuisine inventors Marie-Antoine Carème and Auguste Escoffier as a method of establishing hierarchy in the kitchen.
- Elisabeth I had a law according to which every person older than 7 years had to wear a cap on Sundays and holidays.
- Fedora was first a women’s hat than men’s. Now it is both.
- In 1920s there was an odd custom in America that it was common that if people wore straw hats after the 15 September they were beaten up.
- First “Dunce” hat was introduced by medieval theologian John Duns Scotus (1265-1308). HIs idea was that a conical hat funneled knowledge from God into a head of the… dunce.
- Panama hat has never made in Panama. It is made in Equador.
- French Magician Louis Comte was first to pull out a rabbit from a top hat in 1814.