hat makers and vendors

These page include references to hat makers and vendors that I have come across, whether or not they made or sold Welsh hats, but concentrate on those who made and/or sold Welsh hats. There will be one page for each town or settlement where hats were made in Wales.

It has not been possible to find much about the production and marketing of Welsh hats, even of those made by the two firms who produced most of them in England from the same materials and techniques as were used for the manufacture of top hats.

Most surviving Welsh hats were made in England by Christys of London and Stockport, and Carver and Co of Bristol. Christys was established during the 18th century and continued into the 20th but little is known of Carver and Co. A few Welsh hats were made by Welsh hatters and these are normally distinct from the English products which have one piece of plush folded right around the brim; hats made in Wales normally have separate pieces of plush on the upper and underside of the brim. A few hats have Paris labels, but it is possible that these indicate they method of manufacture rather than to inflate the price. Some Welsh hat sellers had their names printed alongside the English maker’s label inside the hat. This suggests that they had special orders made up for them. It is not clear how Welsh hats were advertised or distributed: so far no adverts or catalogues which include Welsh hats have been found.

Most intriguing question about the origin of the Welsh hat is why two English firms should have produced quite large numbers of a unique shaped silk hat which were bought only by the women of Wales. It is possible that this was the result of Royal or gentry influence, but at present, there is no evidence to support the suggestion that Augusta Hall (Lady Llanover, 1802 – 1896) invented the Welsh hat or made it more popular, except in her own circle. She seems to have had some influence on the wearing of the Welsh hat by women in the area around Llanover until at least 1855 and she wore one for her portrait in 1862. The set of watercolours of Welsh costumes which she may have commissioned in the early 1830s mostly show tall hats with narrow curved brims, not Welsh hats.

A study of trade directories of 1844 for Wales has produced the following numbers of various types of people involved with hat production and selling.
Those making hats were described as hatters, hat manufacturers and straw-hat makers; those who sold hats were often described as drapers and woollen merchants. Presumably milliners and dressmakers also sold hats as well as making and augmenting them. These numbers have to be used carefully since the categorisation of various trades in the trade directories is notoriously unreliable, and in many small towns and villages, some shops would have sold everything, but these figures give some indication of the number of people involved in hat making.
Hatters                                          99
Milliners and dress makers      375
Straw hat manufacturers           213
Pigot’s Directory for South Wales, 1844; Slater’s Directory for North Wales, 1844
However, Gwyn Jenkins has produced a much higher number of hat makers (447) in 1841 from available statistics. Gwyn Jenkins, Hetwyr Llangynfelyn, Ceredigion, X, (1984), 18-28 and Felt hatmaking in Ceredigion, Folk Life, XXVI, 1987-1988, pp. 43-53

 

 

 

 

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