19th century beaver top hat with leather case

What an interesting piece we have here!  Made by Henry Heath for Youmans Hatter of New York, this is a 19th century beaver-hair top hat with its own lined carrying case.  The crown of this hat is not as tall or rounded in as some models made famous by Abraham Lincoln or other notorious top hat wearers.  It’s a simple style:  Moderate height, no band, made of beaver fur, which according to fashion sources was more difficult to get after the 1850’s.  The insignia on the inner lining of the hat is very proud:  Lion and unicorn motif, with text proclaiming that the haberdashery that sold this hat was established in the reign of King George IV…in the 1820’s!  Fashion history sources report that the top hat was the next big headwear craze after the tricorne (think Yankee Doodle), and the style was already very popular at around that time.    (If you haven’t read about one of the most famous fashion icon dandies of the late 18th century, it’s worth a minute to do a Google search for Beau Brummel.)   All this talk about the hat itself is well and good, but we cannot overlook the carrying case.   Meticulously lined in a red and off-white striped cotton, this leather container for the top hat is made to protect the hat by storing it upside-down.  At one time, straps helped secure the top to the sides of the hat box, and the whole affair was fastened up with a lock.  A lock!  These people were serious about their hats.  Top hats continue to occupy a spot in our imaginations:  Different styles can make a person look rich or respectable or, as they say, mad as a hatter.  Which one would you be?  Click here for more views and sizing information.