I am always looking for accessories to complete my sporting ensembles. One thing I never pass up in an antique store is a rack of hats. Ninety-nine percent of the time the rack will be full of hats from the 1960s. I have a theory, that when hats began to lose favor in the late 60s women stored their old hats instead of investing in new ones. What else could account for the abundance of 60s hats at estate sales and antique stores?
But this post is about that rarest of hat finds – the pre-1960s sports hat. I gave a little happy dance when I spotted this little red tam among all the faux turbans and pillbox hats.
Items like this hat that were worn for decades with little change in the style, so they can be hard to date from that alone. Fortunately there were a couple of things that let me know this tam dated from around 1910 to the 1920s. First, the seams were finished using a Merrow overlock machine. The stitch is similar to a modern serger, but it is easy to see the difference. I see it a lot in pre-1930 knit bathing suits.
Second, the band of the tam is in a type of machine knit that is commonly seen on knit items from this era. I have a pair of navy blue mittens in the same type knit.
In looking at catalogs and other illustrated sources from the 1910s and 20s, the tam is the hat worn by most women for winter sports. The illustration above is from a 1921 Bradley catalog.
This illustration is on a late Edwardian postcard.
And this one is from the mid to late 1920s. It fits a bit closer to the head, and might even be called a toboggan.
Another factor that contributes to the scarcity of early knits is that so many of them were consumed by moth larvae. Thankfully, this one somehow escaped the hungry little buggers.
I didn’t mention hats last week when I wrote about vintage clothing storage, probably because I do not like to think about it. Hat storage is one of my biggest problems. Hats take up quite a bit of room, they often have to be supported from inside the hat, and then you have to worry about putting them where the light won’t hit. I have a built-in cupboard that I use along with hatboxes.
These problems with storage actually have a positive side. They have made me be very, very selective about any hats I acquire. But I simply had to have the modified boater you see here.
It is probably the hat of a teen or a young woman, as the fit is quite small. The ribbons are bluer than they appear in my photos. I can see this with a white and blue striped cotton, with a sailor collar and a billowing skirt.
This pretty detail is slightly moth-eaten.
The label reads “New York Straw Works, and there are some initials – S L and C. I was surprised to actually find some information on the firm, but I’ve come to realize that Google Books is the researcher’s friend. According to a book titled History and Commerce of New York, 1891, New York Straw Works was founded in 1874 and was located on Bond Street. They processed all kinds of straw, braiding, dying and pressing it into the latest styles.
The book’s author had this to say about Mr. E.F. Platt, the company’s owner:
Mr. Platt is a young man of excellent business ability, and justly merits the success he has achieved.
The last mention of the New York Straw Works I found was in 1913, but the company could have been in business even later. Interestingly, there is also mention of a company by the same name in San Francisco in the 1880s. I have no idea if there is a connection between the two.
Sometimes you stumble upon something that is really not your thing, but is simply too great to pass up. In this case, I spotted this hat in an antique mall, and just knew it was going to have a fancy label attached. I was also braced for a fancy price tag.
I was right on one count, but luckily, wrong on the other. I paid $12 for this Dior explosion of flowers. So, like I said, it was way too wonderful to not pick up if only to display in my office so I can be reminded that there was a time when a woman would wear this much whimsy on her head.
I hope you can tell that the curls are actually feathers that are backed with organza. The lily-of-the-valley flowers are in white and pink. It is all mounted on a mesh cap.
I was hoping to find a similar Dior hat in my early 1960s Vogue and L’Officiel magazines, but the closest I came was this hat by designer Michel Goma, in a 1963 ad.
The hat fits rather like a wig, and was designed to accommodate the beehive hairdos of the era.
I posted about this travel hat that I found back in February, the Knox Tuxaway. At the time I found an ad for a man’s Tuxaway, but mine was clearly for a woman with the bright red color and the sizing. I’ve not found any additional information about the hat, but I was pleased when a reader, Carol, emailed to say that she is a collector of hatboxes, and that she has a Tuxaway box.
I love this because you can see the cylinder hat box in the 1948 Knox Tuxaway ad. So if any of you happen to run across this oddly shaped box, you will now know what its use was.