Theodore Roosevelt: Personally-Owned Top Hat. High...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionTheodore Roosevelt: Personally-Owned Top Hat. High quality "beaver silk" covered hat owned by President Theodore Roosevelt. TR was known as an elegant dresser and there are photographs of him wearing identical hats. This particular one is still housed in its original deluxe, silk-lined, leather carrying case which measures 14.5" x 11" x 9.75". The area below the lock plate is gold-stamped "T. R." in bold Old English characters. The case has light wear and a moisture line encircling the bottom, but is remarkably well-preserved. The silk liner of the hat has the trademark of "Dunlap & Company" of New York. The sweatband has the gold-stamped logo of John B. Stetson Company of Philadelphia. Additionally, and most importantly, it is gold-stamped "Theo. Roosevelt" in Old English characters. There is no size indicated. There are also some stamped and hand-written inscriptions on the liner and interior sweatband, all hidden from view, likely internal company inventory and quality control notations. The leather sweatband is partially detached at one end and there is some light "case" wear to the outer edges of the grosgrain-accented brim. There are some minor creases to the hat band. The case also includes two lateral "hidden compartments" that house hinged boxes for accessories. It is obviously a top-of-the-line custom order from the "Cadillac" of hat makers at the turn of the 20th century, in keeping with the status of its owner, a life-long New Yorker.
It is accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity from High Noon Western Americana, dated September 26, 2019. That firm has handled many historical and celebrity-owned vintage hats and is often called upon to vet material. "The Dunlap hat company was the premier chapeaux vendor of the Roosevelt era and this hat was absolutely 'top of the line' in class, cost and design for that particular manufacturer. Theodore Roosevelt was known to be a customer of Dunlap & Co. and a Top Hat like this would be very appropriate for a man of Theodore Roosevelt's stature... Theodore Roosevelt was photographed wearing top hats many times. This Top Hat appears identical to other top hats Theodore Roosevelt wears in multiple verifiable photographs." The letter also concludes that the personalized gold-stamped inscriptions were "factory applied". The "choice of the initials 'T.R.' suggests a level of familiarity that one would expect on a period item owned by, ordered and personalized by Theodore Roosevelt himself or someone very close to him."
Provenance: The Ray Bentley Collection.
Heritage has previously sold examples of Presidential hats, including William McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and others. All have been well-received, but this may "top" them all!
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