Charming circa 1920 blue silk toque is trimmed, on top of and around the crown, in wide bands of ecru faille ribbon lavished with soutache braid. Taller on the left than the right, the asymmetrical crown is gathered on both sides, in a nod to a bicorne silhouette.
The hat has a matching blue silk lining and is labelled “Gage Brothers, Chicago New York Paris”. Founded in the mid-nineteenth century in Chicago, Gage Brothers remained a leading millinery firm at least into the 1930s. An 1871 “article” (really an advertisement) has this to say about the company:
“Gage Brothers & Co., Importers, Manufacturers, and Jobbers of Millinery Goods, 78 Lake Street, UP STAIRS, celebrated all over the Northwest for their large, well-selected, and fashionable stock, always fresh and attractive, and of the latest styles. Other millinery houses swell the amounts of their sales, by keeping departments for notions and furnishing goods, but this house sells of Head Gear alone, three quarters of a million dollars worth a year. They are large manufacturers, having in addition to their manufactory of hats and hat frames, of which I wrote last year, a hundred girls working at making cactus, hair, and fancy braid hats, which enable them to supply jobbers, at Eastern manufacturers’s prices, and to offer unusual inducements to retail dealers.
The milliners of the Northwest will here find the most desirable goods for their trade of every conceivable fashionable style, at the lowest prices. Gage Brothers & Co. are authorit[ies] in matters of fashion and taste, and what they cannot supply the trade in the millinery line is scarcely worth looking at. They are among the most substantial and responsible houses in the city, and have built up an immense trade in Head Apparel, by using their abundant means, in the most sagacious manner, to produce and procure the best goods at the lowest prices, by courtesy, urbanity, promptness in filling orders, and by giving their customers the benefit of their capital, skill and experience.”
Please see photo #8 for an ad from the 1920 Oklahoma Ardmore Daily which shows a hat similar to the one being offered here. The price range for the Gage hats in the ad—from $6.95 to $45—is roughly the equivalent of $81-$528 in modern currency.
Measuring 22” circumference inside the base, this hat has a crown height of 5” in the center front. Good condition, clean but with laddering to the silk around the bottom edge and several splits in the lining (photo #7).
Proud Member of the Vintage Fashion Guild
Item ID: pgw52
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