United States Boys' Hat Styles: Beaver Hats


Figure 1.--This 1/6 cased Daguerreotype shows a rather amprehensive little boy holding a great beaver fur hat. He looks a bit scared of the camera. He's wearing what looks like a heavy blouse and button-on pant, a common outfit at the time. He looks quite young, perhaps 2-3 years old. We though a boy this age might still be wearing dresses, but quite a few Dags show very young boys that had already been breeched. This ittle boy holds a plush large rounded crown hat with a large striped hair band and bow. The hat looks rather like a stetson, but the brim looks to be turn up at the front. This was a small cased Dag, the hinged case was 3.75" x 3.25" when closed.

The earliest attractions of the far west was the beaver. The fur trade was a major ecomomic activity in first Canada (French) and then the Hudson Bay (British). It was an important part of the British-French struggle for North America (19th century). Finally America after the Louisiana Purchase opened up the Rocky Mountains (1803). America's Western movement began with the famed mountain men who travelled up the Missouri River to reach the Rockies and the rich trapping areas. The first American captain of industry and multi-millionaire was German-born John Jacob Astor who dominated the fur trade. It was the fur trade trapping several animals, but the most abudant fur-bearing animal was the beaver. And it was the beaver that was used for hats. Other pelts were used for coats and various other garments, but it was the beaver that was used for hats. The hat generally associated with the beaver was the stove-pipe top hat. This was not a style for boys. But a few boys wore them in the first half of the 19th century. Unfortunately photograpy did not appear until 1839 with Daguerreotype an the number of images were limited until the decelopment of the CDV in the 1860s. We have found one with a ittle boy holding a plush large rounded crown hat with a large striped hair band and bow. The hat looks rather like a stetson, but the brim looks to be turn up at the front. Dating Dags is difficult. The dealer believes the portait was taken in the early-50s. We have no idea how common this style of beaver hat was for boys or for men. The photographic record before CDVs (1860s) is limited but not sparse. In America there were quite a number of Dags (1840s-50s) and Ambros and tin-types (1850s). We think it is large enough to be able to say that few boys wore these hats.







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Created: 12:45 PM 10/4/2017
Last updated: 12:45 PM 10/4/2017