Here is the link to the article and photos which appear in the 1859 Oregon magazine. This was such a wonderful experience! I hope you glean as much pleasure from reading this and viewing the photos as I did from participating in the process!
Well, believe it or not it’s time to start planning your hat-related travels for 2019!
Hat hunting for us here at the National Hat Museum is a sport of pleasure. Not every hat we are looking for is a rare, antique find. We spend a lot of time looking for hats of all eras, including recent hats that will be historical representations in the not-so-distant future.
By this time of the year we have a general idea of where we are going on our next overseas hat quest. Planning begins hot and heavy at this time, and I would recommend that if you are a serious hat collector that you do the same. It also allows you to get out and experience the rest of the world.
One of our favorite places to go is England. As everyone is aware, hats are BIG business in England. We obviously have seen the royal weddings with all of the fancy hats. Well, this is the norm for a lot of weddings in England. But it does not stop there; the horse races that take place all across Great Britain have a ladies’ day, and women wear hats to each day of the race.
So…where do all of these hats go after the events? Most are worn only one time! Many of the hats are donated to the many charity shops that support various causes in Britain. This results in the best hat-hunting grounds in Europe for European-style hats. Now, where does one go to find these fabulous toppers?
Thrift stores, or “charity shops” as they call them in England, are a religion. Every cause seems to have a charity shop. So, obviously, London is a great place to go, as they also have fantastic vintage clothing shops, as well as incredible museums, architecture, tea rooms and more. But the city is huge! Details on London excursions will come in the future. I want to focus on a lesser known area for thrifting that may not be so overwhelming on your first trip out - Chester.
Ah, yes! Beautiful Chester, England, is known for its red stone architecture and the black and white buildings. A little bit of everything that one enjoys about England is wrapped up in one little town, but more importantly, it has the highest concentration of charity shops I have ever seen. There is so much history in Chester that I could go of for pages, but the highlights are the ancient streets surrounded by the ancient walls. Chester has the most complete city walls in Britain and is a lovely walk on its own. There are the banks of the River Dee, which make for a beautiful stroll in the evening. Shop-till-you-drop in the most compact shopping center in Britain, thanks to the world-famous Rows, the two-tiered medieval galleries of shops. In the first century AD it was called Fortress Diva after the River Dee. And, who doesn’t want to go to the Diva charity shops!
And let’s not forget the busking. For those of you who do not know what that is, busking refers to people who play live music on the streets. They do have to be licensed, and I can tell you, the music is wonderful in Chester. These people are professionals and some of it is so beautiful that it could move you to tears.
But it’s all about the charity shops. There is just one after another- Oxfam, Hope House Chester, British Hear Foundation, Age UK, Save the Children, Scope, RSPCA, Cancer research UK, the list just goes on and on! It is well worth a trip to Chester; you can spend days shopping the thrift stores. And if you run out of shopping, it is a short trip by train to other interesting towns. With so much to do I recommend that you stay at least 5 days and take side trips to such places as York.
So, where is the best place to stay? The oldest coaching inn in Chester - The Pied Bull. If you are going in September, be sure to ask when the kids are going back to College, as there are three nights of continuous screaming in the streets of Chester.
One service that the National Hat Museum offers is to identify the age of a hat. We have analyzed hat from small, private assemblages to extremely large collections.
One such project took us to the Seattle Goodwill, which has an extensive vintage clothing and accessories collection that they use for different events.
Their collection of hats is so massive that we needed a team of three for this project. The quality and depth of their collection is like none other we have seen. It is always a pleasure to see that someone had the forsight to begin the preservation of these treasures years ago. The Seattle Goodwill has been a great steward in safeguarding this collection.
It was an absolute delight to work with the Goodwill in Seattle. We had an opportunity to see some rare hats which were in superb condition. This experience was a hat lover’s dream come true. I highly recommend you check out their website and consider them if you are in need of vintage fashions for a show or an event. https://seattlegoodwill.org/get-involved/vintage-fashion-collection
If you have a collection of vintage hats, clothing or accessories that need identification, please contact us. We have a group of experts with whom we work, and we will be delighted to assist you.
~ Lu Ann Trotebas - Director, The National Hat Museum
The story of the Hat Museum began many years ago when J. Alyce decided to make her collection available to the public for private tours. She had been a hat fancier most of her life and an avid collector.
She opened her hat museum over 10 years ago. I had been her friend for at least 20 years and started working with her as a volunteer in the positions of assistant director and hat sleuth for the past 6 years.
We went on wild adventures over the years to acquire many of the hats you will see in the museum today. Over the years, Alyce had asked me if I would like to continue the hat museum come the day she was no longer with us. As I appreciated the incredible collection she had acquired and knew it would need a steward in the future, I agreed.
It was with much sadness that the day arrived, sooner than we expected, to hand off the reigns of managing the Nation Hat Museum. Alyce passed away in the summer of 2017. She leaves behind a wonderful legacy of accomplishments. She was a highly demanded public speaker, having spoken in all fifty states and thirty foreign countries for such companies as Boeing, Microsoft, The New York Times and had even been pulled out of retirement by the Pentagon to speak at Dover Airbase. She was an author of nine books, one of which was optioned by Warner Brothers. She even made a trans-American trip in a topless, open-cockpit roaster, writing a book about her experiences driving across our vast country.
She taught me so many things and was an inspiration as to how to live your life to the fullest.
So, I carry on my mentor’s work, ushering this hat collection into the future by sharing its wealth of information with others.
Hats off to a wonderful friend and mentor!
~ Lu Ann Trotebas - Director, National Hat Museum