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Ladies’ Hats

Posted by Laurie Frost on May 10, 2011

If it seems there have been a lot of photographs of strange hats on ladies’ heads these past few weeks, first at the royal wedding and then the Kentucky derby, consider that such sights are anything but new. Have a look at these absurdities, all from the Library of Congress’s online image collection.

At least Fergie’s daughters’ silly hats didn’t contribute to the extinction of any species. The same cannot be said of these. By 1900,  egrets and herons had been hunted almost to the point of extinction, and the decimation in the United States was only stopped by the passage of the Lacey Act.  Worldwide, the slaughter continued, and a 1913 source states that:

In 1911, the feathers of 129,000 egrets; 13,598 herons; 20,698 birds of paradise; 41,090 hummingbirds; 9,464 eagles, condors and other birds of prey; and 9,472 other birds were sold at auction in London for the millinery trade.

You can read more about that here.



Los Angeles airplane hat, ca. 1910. LC-USZ62-97163

I’m not sure whether real feathers were used to construct the artificial birds for this get-up, but I expect so.

Christie MacDonald wearing artificial birds on a hat and on the bodice of her dress.LC-USZ62-117332

At least no birds died for this oddity:


And then there is this. The woman is identified as Marie Dressler, and she also appears in a caricature from a book called Stage Folk. At least she may be remembered in some context other than simply as a lady who wore a silly hat in 1909.



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