One common feature of both sailor hats and caps are streamers. They are common features because they were actually part of the sailor military cap worn by enlisted seamen. They were a continuation of the cap band which commnly had the name of the ship. We do not yet know when this convention began, or what the purpose was. We assume that these streamers were first worn by British sailors. The streamers vary in length and width. These are almost always in black silk or satin ribbon. They seem to be commonly two strands rather than just one and are often forked at the end. Most American and British boys wore their streamers to the back. We note some European boys wearing them to the side. We do not yet know how common this was.
One common feature of both sailor hats and caps are streamers. They are common features because they were actually part of the sailor military cap worn by enlisted seamen. They were a continuation of the cap band or tallie which commnly had the name of the ship. We do not yet know when this convention began of wearing tallies with long streamers or what the purpose of the streamers, if any beyond decoration. We assume that these streamers were first worn by British sailors. British sources report that the tallies do not come 'ready cut', its just a square end - after tying them, the wearer trims the 'V' themselves.
The streamers we have seen on sailor caps vary in both length and width. Some are quite wide and often short while others are long and narrow. This is difficult to fully assess as most pprtraits are front shots and thus we do not see the streamers that normally fell down the back. We think that most streamers were of modest lenhth. This was especially the case on the sailor caps commonly worn by boys. We have, however, seen a few images of children with very long streamers. We do not think that these were very common. We also note streamers of very widths as well. The extremrly wide widths also do not seem to be very common. Many of the wide width streamers to be relatively short.
The streamers on boys' sailor headwear aswell on naval uniforns were almost always done in black silk or satin ribbon. Black was the common convention, almost but not quite universal. Black seems to be the color in almost all the photographs that we have found. This appears to be the case in different ciountries and over time. Even with white sailor headwear and suits, we still see black streaners. White sailor caps were very cimmon, but we have never seen white streamers. It is not clear if tgere was navy blue streamers. It is not possible to diferentiate between black and navy blue in black and white photography. We have, however, noted some other colors. They do not seem to be very common. They also seem mostly solid black streamers. We note their were black streamers with white stripe edges. They do not seem very common, but they did exist.
They seem to be commonly two strands rather than just one and are normally forked at the end with a "V" cut out. Most actual sailor caps worn by sea men had these rorked ends. Not all the caps worn by boys, however, had the forked end. The boy in the imgage here has, for, example, square cut streamer ends (figure 1).
Most American and British boys wore their streamers to the back. We note some European boys wearing them to the side. We do not yet know how common this was. A Dutch reader tells us that wearing the streamers to the side was done on purpose. There is lettering on the cap and the streamers were moved to the side so that the lettering, usually a ship names can be read in the photograph. We think that this was done specificlly for the photogrph and that boys did not really commonly wear their caps like that.
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