The passion for feathers and sometimes entire birds to decorate ladies hats nearly decimated several bird species. In the late 1890’s, ornithologists estimated that 5 million birds were being killed annually for the fashion market. The Audubon society was founded specifically to prevent these birds from being hunted to extinction. Still, fashionable ladies would not be denied their elaborate hats.
And this original c.1890's Ladies Bird Hat is the classic example of these marvelous hats. This museum piece is made of beaver skin and fashioned with a complete bird and blooming white tail feathers.
During the Edwardian period, hats like this one became simply enormous. Hairstyles had evolved into elaborate affairs requiring hairpieces and “rats” – hair-stuffed forms that were placed under the style to give it shape. Hats were worn high on the head, and needed to be fairly large in the crown to fit over these larger hairstyles. In addition to being tall, hats were now very wide, and sported large brims. Hatpins were sometimes as long as 18 inches, and were considered dangerous in close quarters like streetcars. People complained that the hats were a nuisance at public events like plays and the opera, where they blocked the view of patrons behind them.
This incredible example indeed has a very long and somewhat "lethal" hatpin that is original to the hat.
You will not find another example in such pristine condition.