History of Top Hats

Interesting Facts about Top Hats

• 1814 first record of a white rabbit being pulled out of a top hat, by a French Magician named Louis Comte.

• The American financier J P Morgan loved wearing top hats so much he had his cars made with a high roof so he could ride around wearing his beloved hats!

• London's iconic Black Taxi Cabs have to be tall enough to accommodate a gentleman wearing a top hat - even today!

• The doyen of etiquette, the American Emily Post said in the 1920s "always wear your top hat level on your head".

• Yet if you look at the best example of a wearer Lord Ribblesdale (Queen Victoria's Lord in Waiting) by John Singer Sargent you'll see the jaunty angle employed.

• Fred Astaire wore top hats in 12 of his films (notably Top Hat in 1935) and he wore the hat at a jaunty and rakish angle.

• John F Kennedy was the last to wear a top hat at his presidential inauguration in 1961

• Average Head size today 7 1/8, to 7 1/4. 19th and early 20th century 6 5/8 or even smaller; hence larger hats are at a premium.


Vintage Top Hats should be stored in leather or cardboard boxes and should always be brushed to ensure the "dust of the social arena" is cleared away before the next outing.

The hat within its box should be stored in a dry, standard heat, constant atmosphere.

We can of course supply leather hat boxes and top hat brushes.

If a hat gets wet in the rain (as opposed to the spray of champagne!) then do not attempt to place it near heat but allow it to dry naturally and then brush it vigorously with the nap thereafter.

To keep your hat looking its best return it to us from time to time to be cleaned and polished.

Repair and Alterations

Top hats can become, like their owners, slightly worn and misshapen over the years and rather than discard the hat we can refurbish it for you to its former glory. We cannot extend the same service to owners but can merely recommend a further glass of champagne!

As one social roué said at Ascot in the 1930's, "the trouble with the rest of the Royal Enclosure is they seem to be five drinks behind!"

Alteration is possible within certain limitations depending upon the condition of the hat.

Contact us for details and costs where upon we shall be delighted to help if we can.

Selling your Topper

We are always on the lookout for top hats.

If you have a silk top hat you wish to sell please email us details including size, condition and photographs if possible. Alternatively call on 020 8300 4852.