Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

How could I not follow this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt, which features a perfectly lovely feathered ladies hat!? A quick search through my files resulted in the following fabulous hats!

A photograph found in a huge box in a local antique mall and well worth the hour’s worth of sorting and sifting! The snapshot is small, about 2×3 inches and features an outdoor shot of a woman in a lovely outing dress of two layers and of course her fabulous hat! This is a 20th century image, but not too far into the century. Maybe 1905-1910. I might be wrong, but it sure looks like she is posed in front of a string of bean plants.

This is another 20th century snapshot or home photographic print. Our subject sports a fine straw boater. These hats were popular for men and women up through the 1930s. However, the clothing here hints at the 1910s. Another outdoor photograph, which I suspect is due to the better lighting.

Next up is a poorly treated CdV from the 1890s showing two ladies in their tall hats. The lady on the right has an especially high plume or feather while her compatriot appears to have foliage adorning her hat.Their clothing suggests traveling outfits, as most women were photographed in their best dress and would take off their outer protective clothing for the sitting. A photograph of coats and hats could have been intended to show off their new hats.

This tintype features a lady dressed in white or light colored muslin, most likely, holding her handbag and sporting a broad white hat. It is a bit difficult to discern, but it looks like the hat’s lining is of a gathered fabric, most likely silk. This wide brimmed hat would have been held in place with several long hatpins. Did you know that in France, there was a law passed that limited the length of hatpins to no more than 18 inches? At the time, hatpins didn’t have a clutch or cover over the sharp end and it was deemed to be unsafe on public transportation for hatpins extending beyond the brim of the hat and threatening the eyes and ears of other passengers.

I had to squeeze a man in here. This is a “salt of the earth” type character who sat for his tintype around the 1880s. That’s the best dating we can get based on the type of backdrop and props used. The pastoral and landscape backdrops were popular during that decade, so there you go. His hat is a simple felt or straw, flat brim and rounded crown. A good working hat.

Next we have three hats in one! Two ladies and a man posed on the lawn. As you enlarge the photo, the background is almost more interesting than the people. I am curious what type of building is behind them – a carriage house? storage shed? packing barn? This photo came from the packet that also gave us the straw boater from earlier up the page, and also gives us the next photo.

Aunt Elsie posed for her photograph somewhere, looks a lot like the side of the road. Someone in Elsie’s family had a camera and enjoyed taking photographs. The packet of mostly unidentified people includes babies, old grannies and every age in between. Previously, I featured the druggist window with the cat in it and the Salvation Army band. Elsie’s hat is similar to the one in our Sepia Saturday prompt, so this brings us full circle, doesn’t it? I’d guess at the 1910s for this photo.

I hope you enjoyed this round up of fabulous hats! For more hats and otherwise, click the Sepia Saturday banner below and jump off into millinery mayhem.

Hat's off to Sepia Saturday!

17 thoughts on “Fabulous Hats!

  1. Wendy says:

    I LOVE this post with all the fine information included. You’ve given me some great clues to my own family photos.


  2. Little Nell says:

    This is a fabulous collection of hats. That first one is enormous and easily beats my Granny Alice! I nearly postsed a boater too and it would have got a man into my collection, but I didn’t in the end. Clever you to squeeze one in!


  3. tony zimnoch says:

    A Fine Selection! I wonder why hats fell out of fashion ,Such a shame.


  4. I like the second picture; the snapshot with the small straw boater and the carriage in the background. Could she be sitting on the lawn as well?


  5. postcardy says:

    Some of the old hat styles seem totally absurd today.


  6. Bob Scotney says:

    A fine collection of hats. I wonder if it was WWII and the requirement fo clothing coupons that changed the fashions. I’m hoping someone can tell me.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      I have heard here in the US that when John F Kennedy stopped wearing hats they fell out of favor for men. For women it might have been due to the crazy hairstyles in the 50s and 60s though I do not know for sure.


  7. kristin says:

    18 inches! That would indeed be a lethal weapon of a hat pin!


  8. I really love that second one!

    Isn’t it grand to sort through a box of photos at an antique store?


  9. Alan Burnett says:

    A great set of images. I am sure that I have one in my collection which is almost identical to your No. 3. But I suppose the poses, the clothes and the hats were universal.


  10. tyrogers6200 says:

    Great collection of hate – I particularly like the man with the straw hat.


  11. tyrogers6200 says:

    sorry meant to say collection of hats – not hate. :-)


  12. Karen S. says:

    Oh I know and agree with you….and yes hats were as common as breakfast back then, but so many of them were just so very interesting and the back story to them priceless!


  13. Nancy says:

    I’m late looking at Sepia Saturday posts this week….How interesting to learn about the hatpins in France. As I looked at an old family photo of a lady wearing a hat over a very wide expanse of hair, I wondered how long the hatpin would have been to hold the hat in place. You have a fine collection of people with hats. Thanks for sharing.


  14. A wonderful show! How many hats do you think a typical middle class woman of this era might have in her wardrobe? Presumably at least 4 for the different seasons? Did they have more hats than shoes?

    The building behind the trio on the lawn reminds me of the outdoor churches here in the South, Primitive Baptists and the like. It looks like benches or pews at the back? Or it could just be a BBQ. :-)


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      My understanding is that women didn’t match their hats to their outfits like 20th century women did, so a hat was more utilitarian. Certainly, the more disposable income, the more hats a woman had – and yes, the more shoes! I suspect a typical middle class woman might have had two hats or maybe even three. In general women had one or two good dresses and one or two “ok” dresses for every day. Clothing was not changed as frequently as today, and the look was changed with different accessories. Ick!!


  15. I enjoyed all your hat photos..wonderful! :)


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