The derby or bowler was the hat of the old west except for cowboys and others who lived in the saddle. A primitive hard hat for the railroad worker, and stylish for the man about town, it was the hat of choice from the 1870's until after WW I.
The planter's hat was a popular choice in the south from well before the civil war. Appropriate for the re-enactor from the fur trade era into this century. The straw version can be found in shops today.
Although it never really became popular north of the border, many features were adopted for the familiar cowboy hat.
The slouch hat was a civilian version of the Kossuth hat worn on both sides during the war. It was popular in black and sometimes brown. Any color not issued by the military would do.
The silk topper was for "gents" and formal wear. In the cowboy era of the west, it never had the widespread acceptance of the beaver felt top hat which dominated fashion both in Europe and America during the first half of the century. The beaver version influences our vison of both the Artful Dodger and Ben Rumson. It was totally impractical for a horseman and frequent target for more dangerous missles than snowballs. Ben Thompson felt threatened when someone tried to shoot his off. The prankster never had another opportunity to try.
Cheap and serviceable, wool felt hats were widely used, especially by homesteaders and laborers.
|John Stetson was one of the most successful marketing men of the age. He started a modern factory producing hats, and replacing the old cottage industry hat. The coast to coast railroad made distribution practical.|