Examining a Velvet Top Hat

Today, I would like to show you a velvet top hat, that my partner found in an antique store years ago, including the original hat box. I think, this type of top hat is called the Prince… But I could be mistaken, please correct me, if you know more. Here it is:

It’s a beautiful silk velvet top hat with a black band around the brim and also a black band around the hat top (?). This band is handsewn together at the left side of the hat:

The right side:

From the top:

And, most interesting, from the inside:

9 Rue Bannier, Orléans

The Hat was made by a man who might be René or also A. G., who knows. It was made in the Chapellerie Nouvelle, 9 Rue Bannier, Orléans. I tried to find something about the original street, but there is almost no information on the internet for this chapellerie. The hatter is, of course, not there anymore, today, 9 Rue Bannier, Orléans is the home of Marionnaud. Rue Bannier was the first place in Orléans to be bombarded on June 16 1940. If you want to read more about it and also see some pictures, you can read this article (in French). I found this article, where Rue Bannier 11 is shown in 1905, maybe, the house behind is our chapellerie 😉 Who knows.

The address is printed on the paper lining of the hat:

The font is a different one to the one, I was able to find on Google: Hat Box Chapellerie Nouvelle René (I found the same font for men’s hats as well). It looks much younger than the font used in this top hat to me. If there are top hat experts out there, let me know what you think!

The Velvet Top Hat Box

I’d say, the hat is from the 1890s, because of the font used for the logo. We also have the original hatbox, that looks much older then the hat boxes linked. It does not have a logo on it, but it is filled with newspapers, 2 from the 60s and one, that looks as if it could be from around the turn of the century.

A. G.

The initials A. G. can be found on the leather lining:

Qualité Superieure

There is another engraving in the leather lining, that shows a crown as well as a emblem:

We have the crown at the top and then in two of the four emblem pieces, we also have crowns. Another one shows a lion, the fourth I cannot really tell… It looks like a bird or something. Around the emblem you see a belt and the belt “qualité superieure”. Might be a quality seal, that is given by the king.

The leather lining was hand stitched into the hat (I fixed it because it was loos almost all around). It is a very fine leather, really wonderful.

The last picture I have is from the back of the hat, and shows that little bow, that is not in the greatest shape anymore:

And that’s it! On my recherches, I found a few interesting sources on hatters in France etc. If you speak french, you might be interested in this article: Techniques Toxique on the profession of Hatters and their use of arsenic when making hats. Another one, showing the tools used and talks about top hats specifically is this one: Musea Brugge Hoedenmaker.

Thanks a lot for reading, I hope you enjoyed. I wish you a good one!

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