OFFICER’S SLOUCH HAT

$2,950.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 2020-109

This slouch hat has great early characteristics. The brim is bound, a good 2 ¾ inches wide, and the sweatband is a wonderfully tall 4 inches. It is set up as a rather dashing hat with the left and right brim turned up and fastened with a  2-½ inch black cockade and single small infantry officer’s “Eagle-I” button. The brim has been pinched fore and aft using militia-style ball buttons on either side that draw and hold the brim together using a brass split-ring linking their shanks inside the fold of the brim.

The hat shows some use. There is slight wear along the bottom edge from putting it on, and the sweatband shows one small, period repair and staining along its upper half, which would naturally absorb more dirt and oil from the wearer’s hair. The sweatband is in place, but has separated at the rear seam and popped some of the very minute stitches along the edge on either side. There is no lining, but they were usually silk and the staining along the upper edge of the sweatband makes it unsurprising that it has not survived. There are six or seven small holes in the top of the crown. Some are on old fold lines. There are no large ones. The crown stands about 7 inches high with the hat laid flat, but would be somewhat lower with the top flattened, creased, or pushed in.

With the brim of the hat let down, it makes a fairly conventional commercially produced slouch hat as seen in many photos of officers dressed for the field, with no overt insignia, a broad grosgrain ribbon around the base of the crown and stitched binding around the edge. Headgear in camp, however, was often anything but regulation and often whimsical: from fezzes and smoking caps to knit tams. Turning the hat into something more akin to a fore and aft hat was also not unknown. Confederate cavalry led the way with rakish headgear featuring up-turned brims and trailing plumes, but Federals were not far behind. Charles Pascal patented a hat with a brim that could be turned up at sides and rear, giving something of the same look, which was deemed to present, “a neat and ornamental appearance.” Indeed, after the war the style gained some official sanction with the 1872 pattern campaign hat that was equipped with hooks and eyes in the same position as the ball buttons on this.

The use of a black cockade with a single button to hold up the brim imitates the regulation side eagle, but is also reminiscent of the black rosettes occasionally used at the base of the black ostrich plume. These also sometimes have a brass button, as shown on several personalized slouch hats in Loane, and on the U.S. 1855 cavalry hat preserved in Denmark. In this case the plume was added by a collector, but we have left it in place since there was likely one there originally.

This is a dashing looking piece of headgear.

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