Circa 1905 plateau hat of black chiffon and black horsehair braid is trimmed in black silk and a cloud of tiny white flowers amidst crisp autumn leaves.
The lacy braid—likely the pyroxiline “imitation horsehair braid” then newly arrived on the millinery scene-- is layered over the wire frame of the hat, on both the flat, shallow crown and the wide, slightly downcurved brim. Black chiffon edges the brim as well as the top rim of the crown.
The black silk ribbon encircles the crown and is gathered to the front left in a wired pouf, which the bundled stems of the flowers are tucked beneath.
The hat is lined in sheer black silk. No manufacturer’s label is present, and it is possible that the hat was homemade or the work of a local milliner, who bought and then trimmed the shaped wire frame.
A January 1905 (Abraham & Straus) ad for “Black Chiffon and Fancy Imitation Horsehair Braid Hats” reflects the vogue for this type of richly textural but simple hat, noting that they are “So fashioned that a simple trimming suffices—a plume, an ornament or a knot of ribbon, and the Hat is completed”.
Measuring 18” inner circumference around the crown opening, the hat was clearly meant to perch atop an elaborate Edwardian updo. Measuring 13” in diameter, it has a 3.5” brim and 2” crown.
This handsome hat is in good condition, with the wire frame visible in several places through the braid or chiffon covering (photo #8), some fading in the creases of the ribbon band, and wear to the lining (thinning to the silk and an open, frayed seam, photo #7).
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