The history of the top hat dates from 18th century ending in the mid-20th century. The first silk top hat in England is credited to George Dunnage in 1793.
The phrase, "Mad as a Hatter", often crops up in conversation with customers. This is a reference to a disease caused by the use of mercury in the preparation of felt from the fur of small animals. (Not applicable to those of us who merely sell hats of a later and different material and manufacturing technique. It must be something else then!)
The name of Hetherington also comes up from time to time in discussion about the origin of the silk topper. It seems stories of the "first" toppers, produced by Mr H, causing women to faint, children to scream and general panic in the street are nothing but bunkum.
For a well-researched and edifying history of the topper I recommend the article on the Top hat in Wikipedia.
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