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Top hat

  • Place of origin:

    Bond Street (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1817 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    W. Moore, Late Bicknells & Moore (Makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    beaver fur-felt

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Francis Coutts

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Thomas Coutts, famous as the founder of the bank Coutts & Co., would have been in his seventies or early eighties when this hat was made for him. Contemporaries in the early nineteenth-century noted that he dressed very unfashionably and shabbily for a man of his wealth and position. His personal style was updated late in life by his far-younger second wife, the actress Harriot Mellon, whom he married in 1815.

The top hat first appeared at the very end of the eighteenth-century and remained the dominant form of masculine headwear, with a few changes in style, for the next hundred years. The rounded chunkiness of this example is characteristic of the early form of top hat. Its composition of beaver felt is also very typical of the topper's initial style, and its sober colouring is appropriate to the personal tastes of Thomas Coutts, who was by the standards of his day very elderly when the hat was made.

Physical description

Black beaver fur top-hat with black silk ribbon and small metal buckle. A similar ribbon forms the margin of the brim. There are four strings tying up the brim. It is lined with tissue paper and white silk, and has also a wide border of leather. Inside are the initials of Thomas Coutts and the name of the maker.

Place of Origin

Bond Street (made)


1800-1817 (made)


W. Moore, Late Bicknells & Moore (Makers)

Materials and Techniques

beaver fur-felt


Height: 12 in, Width: 6 in

Object history note

Worn by Thomas Coutts

Descriptive line

Top hat of beaver felt, 1800-1817, property of Thomas Coutts.


Beaver; Leather; Silk; Ribbon




Hats & headwear; Clothing; Accessories; Formal wear; Men's clothes; Scotland; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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