One of the most popular style of hat for boys through much of the 19th century was the round top or rounded crown hat. This style was particularly dominate in the early and mid-19th century. It appears to be related to sailor hats, especially narrow brimmed sailor hats, although HBC at this time has little information on the origins of this style. Many paintings from the early 19th century show large numbers of boys wearing this style of hat. There were a variety of different styles.
HBC is not yet sure about the origins of the round top hat. Hats in the 18th century were mostly three-cornered hats. These rounded-top hats with narrow plain bills did not appear until the early 19thth century. They appears to be related to sailor hats, especially narrow brimmed sailor hats. HBC at this time , however, has little information on the origins of this style.
This style was particularly dominate in the early and mid-19th century. HBC begins to notice these hats about the 1830s, but they could have been worn earlier. The narrow brim styles were very common in the 1850s and 60s, escpecially the narrow-brim style. This is shown in the photographic record. A good example is an
unidentified American boy in the 1850s. Another example is Tom Baird in the 1860s. The narrow brim styles less common in the 1880s when wider-brimmed hats became more common. The narrow brimmed version continued to be worn, however, until the end of the century. Most of the images we have found are American, but we believe that these hats were also worn in Europe. We do not yet have enough European images to build a general chronology. We do have an American chronology.
One of the most popular style of hat for boys through much of the 19th century was the round top or rounded crown hat. Many paintings from the early 19th century show large numbers of boys wearing this style of hat. The boys depicted in the Winslow Hommer paintings of rural America at mid-century almost always show them wearing these hats. There is less photographic evidence available on these hats as they were particularly popular before photographs were inexpensive and possible for the average family to afford. Interestingly mothers usually did not want boys weing their hat in a formal portrait as it would cover their hair. Often mothers insisted that a boys dress hat be laid somewhere in the photograph so you could see what he did normally wear.
There were many different styles of these hats. The major difference was the with of the brim. The crowns also varied in eighth and shape. The brims were often olain, but sometimes decorated. There was commonly a ribbon around the base of the crown and a narrower ribbon sewn around the edge of the brim. The ribbons were normally blck, but varied greatly in width. Fancier hats had for boys might have a streamers of various lengths. Also the ribbon around the crown might be fancy or even decorated.
We note that some younger boys might wear these hats with decorations like the way ladies hars may be decorated. An example here is a German boy wearing a rounded cap with what looks like a plumet about 1862.
I believe that most of the hats were made of felt, a wool material. There may have been other cloth materials. Some were made in straw.
Rounded-crown hats were perhaps the most populat boys' hat style during the 19th century. We note boys wearing them in several countries, including America, England, France, and Germany. We believe that they were worn in many other countries. We have less information on Europe. The style appears to have originated in England. HBC knows thas these rounded top hats were the primary hat style worn by American boys for much of the 19th century. We see large numbers of photographs with boys weariung these hats. Canandian trends seem similar to American trends. We are less sure about trends in other countries, but believe it was a common style in most European countries. A good example is the Parisian Caplain brothers in the 1860s.
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