Hat size: Fits Most Outside Diameter: 9" (23 cm); Height of Crown 3" (7.5 cm)
Condition: Very good. Netting is intact.
Label: Bes Ben Chicago
One of a kind vintage item – Buy Now
This hat is a work of art. Magnificent beaded hat by the famous Chicago milliner Bes Ben. Burgundy and pink beads on a molded base. Matching burgundy netting is in wonderful shape. Criss-crossed open weave bead work on stiff buckram base. Netting is in dark burgundy and has scattered dots. Hat sits on top of the head so it fits most. Hat has some weight to it.
Benjamin Greenfield and his sister Bessie opened their millinery shop Bes-Ben in Chicago in 1919. When she left the business he consolidated to one shop on Michigan Avenue. He was famous for his whimsical hats including a 1941 Dalmatian hat. He became known as “Chicago’s Mad Hatter” in 1940s and 1950s. Every summer Bes-Ben held its famous midnight sale, in which the store cleared its last season's inventory at prices as low as $5, and tossed the unsold inventory to be grabbed up by hat lovers. The madhouse these sales created was notorious, with press photographs showing throngs of eager shoppers pressed against each other to grab the hats. Injuries ensued. Customers included Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, and Marlene Dietrich. A bird hat by Bes-Ben circa 1940s is in the collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The Chicago History Museum held two special Bes Ben exhibits, and features several hats in a rotating exhibit at all times in the museum. His philanthropy was great, and a foundation in his name carries on his legacy.*
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