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Hat Trick!

Wide Brimmed Bowler Hat

Description:

From about the 1850s, people started adopting the bowler hat.  Also known as The Coke, the bowler, was created by the London firm of Lock & Co in 1850 for Edward Coke, younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester.  It was intended to protect the heads of his gamekeepers from overhanging branches of trees, and was closely fitting so that it would not easily fall off.  The keepers had previously worn top hats, which were easily dislodged and damaged.

It was a domed hat hardened by the application of shellac, a resin secreted by insects.  The prototype was made in 1849 by Thomas and William Bowler, hat makers in Southwark.  William Coke tested it himself by jumping on it twice.  He bought it for 12 shillings (60p) as it withstood his weight.


The bowler once defined British civil servants and bankers, and it was also worn for foxhunting.  It became popular in the American West where both cowboys and railroad workers favoured it because it did not blow off in strong wind.  Bolivian women began wearing it in the 1920s, when it was introduced by British railway workers.  Today the men of the Niger Delta wear a bowler hat and carry a walking stick as part of a regional costume introduced by British colonials in the 1900s.

Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
197.345
Digital Number:
DMCL034
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council


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