|Mid-19th Century Men in Their Silk Top Hats|
Daguerreotype Source Unknown
Are those great hats or what?
My interest in hat boxes started when I purchased a fur-felt top hat from Tim Bender of T.P.&H. Trading Co. Tim had worked with me to create a custom version based on measurements of a friend's original mid-19th Century fur-felt top hat. I had Tim leave off the edge binding and ribbon trim, so I could use some original French silk grosgrain ribbon that I had stashed away years before. I was really excited when the hat arrived but never expected the rush I experienced when the hat came out of the box. Tim really nailed it. It looks, feels and wears like an original felt top hat. I really loved being able to add my finishing touches but what it really deserved was a cool box to live in.
|Original Mid-19th Century Silk Top Hat|
and Its Wallpaper Covered Box
Photo Courtesy of Time Traveler's Antiques
|My First Replica Hat Box|
Photo Lindy Miller 2011
When you make a period style cardboard box, the seams need to be strong. Some seams can be lapped and glued but some will butt together. After years of making various boxes, I've learned to take narrow strips of muslin and glue them over the butt joints as a re-enforcement. Some original boxes I've studied, have their seams sewn with a wide overcast stitch. The final steps on the box involved covering the outside in a sweet robin's egg blue paper and lining the inside of the box with reprinted period newspaper. I then added some narrow twill tape ties to secure the fitted lid. In my research I discovered that many original boxes were covered in amazing contemporary wallpaper, as you can see in the image. With all the period papers being reproduced today (Historic Wallpaper Resources), it's another option to consider. In the end, I was rewarded with a fitting home for a very special hat.
|Original Mid-19th Century "Bandbox Style" Hat Box|
Photo Courtesy Antique Associates
|Replica Hat Box #2|
Photo Lindy Miller 2011
One little hint that I would like to share is that cardboard typically has a grain. If you take a piece and bend it from opposite directions, you will notice the difference immediately. This doesn't really matter with thinner cardboard but can mean the difference between a smooth bend and not-so-smooth with some thicker varietys. These were both fun projects and I would encourage others to craft their own versions. Period style cardboard boxes are wonderful objects and usually missing in recreated historical scenes. There's no reason for it as they are easier to make than you might think. Craft on !