Top Hat thumbnail 1
Top Hat thumbnail 2
+2
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Top Hat

1800-1817 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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 actor 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
beaver fur-felt
Brief Description
Top hat of beaver felt, 1800-1817, property of Thomas Coutts.
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.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12in
  • Width: 6in
Measurements taken from paper records
Credit line
Given by Mr Francis Coutts
Object history
Worn by Thomas Coutts
Associations
Summary
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 actor 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.
Collection
Accession Number
371AA-1908

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdOctober 3, 2007
Record URL