Saturday, February 09, 2008

Paper Hat Mystery - SOLVED!

I was wondering the other day why toy theatre performers sometimes wear paper hats. I assumed it was a tradition of some sort, but I didn't know the details. I had a hard time of it finding the answer, but I was persistent, and finally tracked the information below down. Now, it makes perfect sense!!


In The Tenniel Illustrations to the "Alice" Books (Ohio State UP, 1985), p. 18, Michael Hancher mentions several of Tenniel's cartoons for Punch that featured paper hats for workmen (Ref:July-Dec. 1853, p. 169; 6 April 1861; 22 June 1861; 5 Sept. 1863; 4 Aug. 1866)

In the 19th century, square or box-like paper hats were worn in a number of trades: by carpenters and stone masons in particular, but there are references to their use in other trades, as well. Tenniel's Carpenter does in fact wear a carpenter's hat (which seems to have been folded in a different way from any printers' hat I'm familiar with: note the double diagonal creases, characteristic of the former but not the latter). - Terry Belanger, University of Virginia

"...paper hats were made and worn by carpenters, printers, and other artisans to keep sawdust etc. out of their hair..." - From The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Nov/Dec 2003, PAPER HATS

Even later, they were known..."Paper hats were once as common in a pressroom as ink..."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting that link, it is a great resource! I'm always on the lookout for references on paper clothing. I've been tracking down paper clothing for the past decade.
    There were paper hats made as early as the 1730's. During the 18th and 19th century paper was used as an economic alternative to straw. (a 1730's and an 1830's embossed paper hat can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection, as well as some papier-mache 'straw' hats from the 1870's)
    Photos can be found in my 1998 Master's Thesis "Pulp Fashion: The History of 18th and 19th Century Patented Paper Clothing"by Jennifer Kibel.
    Thanks again,
    Jennifer Verde King of Verde Studio

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