Monday, October 10, 2011

The Western Hat

When you picture the wild west what image comes to mind? Perhaps the Marlborough Man wearing the iconic Stetson?

Or maybe bad guys Butch and Sundance as imagined by Paul and Bob?

Or the ropenist, fightingest, meanest of them all

Our collective memory, even our artistic memory (consider Frederick Remington) identifies the man of the west by his dusty Stetson. Sadly, it just wasn't so.

The hat of choice in the old west wasn't the classic cowboy hat, but a standard hard top Victorian Derby, bowler or Coke if you prefer.

Have you ever examined photos of the 1870 and 80's? Here are photos of some folk whose names you may recall from the movies. Count the Stetsons.

Original photograph of the 'Dodge City Peace Commission' in June 1883. Front, l-r; Chas. E. Basset, Wyatt S. Earp, Frank McLain, and Neil Brown. Back, l-r; W. H. Harris, Luke Short, W. B. Bat Masterson, and W. F. Petillon. This is the version with Petillon beside Masterson. All rights reserved. FCHS.

Bat Masterson

The Hole in the Wall Gang
Butch Cassidy's Gang

Butch Cassidy

Frederick Remington and Hollywood are to blame. Now try and imagine Clint Eastwood in a derby.



Martha said...

Love it!!!! How television and the movies have changed history!

CK said...

Robert Altman knew a thing or two--in McCabe & Mrs Miller, Warren Beatty wears a derby hat.

Mrs. Blandings said...

I'm pretending I didn't see this. Are you sure they don't just have on their Sunday-go-to-church clothes for the camera?

Toad said...

Mrs. B follow the link. The Stetson was a Texas/Kansas cattle drive hat.

NCJack said...

People who lived and worked in town would wear suits and "dressier" hats. Also carried pistols (if any) in belts or pockets.

My Dad often wondered: Why all the vests and no coats? How can they toss off that much whiskey with no effect? Where does a $1/day cowboy get the money to "see that $10 and raise you $20"?

Chuck Hatt said...

I read somewhere that many of the costume designers for TV westerns were gay men who shaped that '60's aesthetic through a fey sensibility. Now I can't find any documentation for that but watch The Big Valley some time and tell me what you think.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Doesn't Paul Newman wear a bowler in the movie? At least some of the time? Hmmm.

Well, it did serve as a riding helmet of sorts.