ARMY NAPOLEONIC ERA
GENERAL’S FULL DRESS COCKED HAT
Presented is an English cocked hat or bicorne
of the high quality beaver felt and gold bullion trim. Considering its age, it is in very good condition because it must
have been worn regularly and was passed down in time without the protection afforded by a carrying case. The hat has a ribbed band of gold
embroidery along its upper edges and a band of wider gold bullion with a domed gold button at the bottom.
There is no cockade. The interior of the hat features a brown hat band and brown silk liner imprinted with
Christys – London. No size is given , but the hat’s circumfrence is 21″ and it is 18″ L x 8 1/4″ W x 9 1/4″
The British Royal Army Museum informs us that it is of the rank of a general officer.
from the 18th Century three corner covers that were called “Tricorne” by the French. Later, one corner
was eliminated and the two remaining ends became more pointed. The front brim was called the cock and the rear was called
the fan. The right side, frequently had an insignia known as a cockade. In England they were known as cocked hats and in France
the points were worn from shoulder to shoulder as with this hat until the end of the Napoleonic Era, and later they
were worn front to back. The band in this hat and the label show that this hat was intended to be worn with the ends
going slightly offset from shoulder to shoulder.
bicorne was widely worn until just before WW II as part of the full dress of officers of most of the world’s navies, but
after the War its use diminished, except when used in formal diplomatic dress.
CONDITION: The hat shows wear marks along the lower edge with more
on the right side showing that it was frequently carried while walking. There are also some wear marks on the top right
and the lower left rear. The head liner is in very good condition.
THE MAKER: Christys
& Co Ltd in England has operations dating back to 1773, starting with King George III. Christys’ is the
only company in the world still making high quality top hats and bowlers in the traditional way, using hatting skills established
over 200 years ago and keeping a valuable British industry very much alive.
Christys London® brand was established by Miller Christy in 1773 who, following his apprenticeship to a hatter in Edinburgh,
created his own company which was to grow over several generations. Miller Christy set up his first partnership with
fellow Quaker, Joseph Storrs at No.5 Whitehart Court, London. This was where the first Christys’ hat shop was opened,
moving later to Gracechurch Street which remained the London address of the business until 1954. The main hatworks however
was in Bermondsey until partnerships with Stockport manufacturers took place in 1824. Stockport in Cheshire was a hub of hat-making in England in the 1700s and 1800s, with 53 hatting
firms there by 1864, including Christys. Stockport Museum is home to ‘The Christy Collection’, testimony to the
influence the company had in this proud hatting town. The Christy Papers include a 500 page booklet detailing its trade marks
registered around the world at the height of the British Empire.
its height, the Stockport factory alone employed 3,000 local people and was always managed by direct descendants of the company’s
founder. By 1843 Christy s’ was the largest hat and cap making factory in the world. Queen Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother
visited the Stockport factory in 1963 having commissioned Christy’s to make miniature hats for Queen Elizabeth II’s
dolls house many years earlier.
Both sides of the British Army Napoleonic Era bicorn
Two British Napoleonic Era officers wearing
different styles of bicorn hats
Showing wear at the peak of the hat and along
the lower rim
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