1850s Top Hat - Holt Renfrew Predecessor - Black Silk - Size 7 - Steampunk


Brand Poppy's Vintage Clothing

This is a very interesting black silk top hat dating to the 1850s, a great piece for someone into steampunk or Montreal history.  This hat was sold by John Henderson & Co. of 517 St Catherine St West, Montreal.  This store was the forerunner of the Holt Renfrew department store.  John Henderson’s brother William S. Henderson came to Quebec City in 1834 and set up shop with various partners, eventually selling the business to his Montreal based brother, John, with the name of the store then becoming the John Henderson Co.  John brought on George Richard Renfrew as a partner in 1862 and the store name was changed to Henderson, Renfrew and Company.  When John retired in 1867, the store became Renfrew & Marcou, only becoming Holt, Renfrew & Co in the year 1900.   

I believe that this hat is made of silk plush.  Beaver fur had been used prior to the 1860s, but silk plush also was being used from about 1830.  I’m unsure, but I think that the fibres on this hat are silk.  The hat has a size label that reads “7” - it measures 21 1/2” around the sweatband, and 7 3/4” by 6 1/4” across the opening.

The hat does have some condition problems.  There is wear to the plush along the top edge and a patch of wear to the top side of the brim at the front.  The sweatband is detached over about 1/4 of its area as the stitching is undone.  In addition, the silk lining is frayed where it is supposed to sit under the sweatband and there is a wear spot to the silk of the underside of the brim near the sweatband.  Please view the close-up photos of all of the damage.  Aside from the aforementioned, the hat is in quite good condition for a hat of its age.

This is an interesting historical piece because of the early Holt Renfrew connection....funky item for someone into steampunk.