Top Hat crafted by R. H. Bevan – 1887
This felted beaver fur top hat is an excellent example of those worn by men of all classes in the mid-19th century. First appearing in Middlesex, England in 1793, haberdasher George Dunnage’s fashionable silk creation soon began replacing the standard “tricorne” hat in Western society. Within two decades, beaver skin became the primary material for top hat production, and the designs for hats became bigger and broader between the 1840s and 1860s. The iconic “stove pipe” top hats President Lincoln favored generally reached 7-9 inches tall – atop his 6’4” stature! The top hat became the physical representation of gentleman & capitalism in the 19th century; James Laver (1899-1975) observed a gathering of men wearing top hats and noted the “resemblance to factory chimneys” therefore symbolizing the nature of the Industrial Era. Crafted by haberdasher R.H. Bevan, this top hat (shown above & below) dates to the mid-1830s and is part of the extensive collection of artifacts at The Gateway Museum. To see this top hat and learn more about the history of Western culture & industry visit us 10am-5 pm daily in the Gateway Museum at Natures Art Village!