Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hat History For Western Wednesday...!

We have probably covered this before, but it's worth revisiting, I think.

Like many things from the old west, the hat became a thing of legend. So many stories involved the "10 gallon" hat, the true origin of the name almost got lost to history. I figured you might find this interesting.

Why do we call it a 10-gallon hat?



The popular image of a cowboy would not be complete without the wide-brimmed “10-gallon hat,” yet even the most hardened cattlemen can’t agree on how the iconic headgear first got its name. The conventional explanation is that “10-gallon” refers to how much liquid could be carried inside the hat. In fact, a famous ad for the Stetson company once even depicted a cowpoke giving his weary horse a drink from the crown of his hat. While it’s certainly in keeping with the romantic conception of life in the Old West, this image is probably as much of a myth as gunfights at high noon. Not only is the name “10-gallon hat” an obvious exaggeration—even the most comically large cowboy hats could only hold a few quarts of water—carrying liquid in the crown of any hat would most likely damage it beyond repair.

Most experts argue that the name “10-gallon hat” is actually an import from south of the border. Cattle drivers and ranchers in Texas and the Southwest often crossed paths with Mexican vaqueros who sported braided hatbands—called “galóns” in Spanish—on their sombreros. A “10 galón” sombrero was a hat with a large enough crown that it could hold 10 hatbands, but American cowboys may have anglicized the word to “gallon” and started referring to their own sombrero-inspired headgear as “10-gallon hats.” Yet another linguistic theory argues that the name is a corruption of the Spanish phrase “tan galán” —roughly translated as “very gallant” or “really handsome”—which may have been used to describe the majestic image of a hat-wearing cowboy in the saddle.

Whatever its origin, the 10-gallon hat wasn’t even the preferred headgear for most people in the Wild West—top hats and bowlers were more common. The nickname didn’t enter the popular lexicon until the 1920s, when silent film stars like Tom Mix and Tim McCoy helped popularize the oversized hat in Hollywood Westerns. The 10-gallon hat went on to earn a place as a quintessential piece of the frontier wardrobe, and presidents like Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson would later use them to cultivate a rustic image while serving as commander in chief.

This hat became a true icon of the Old Wet, no matter where the name came from. Folks all over the world recognize the 10 Gallon hat as truly American.

Coffee out on the patio again today.

8 comments:

Wade Herod said...

I have been watching "Saving Grace" which I managed to miss in its heyday. The first season had a segment where Grace grabs the cowboy hat off a fellow OCPD investigator, gets a bottle of water from another officer and gives a horse a drink.

It's a very good series. Three seasons of it are on NetFlix if you managed to miss it like me. Really good TV series.

Wade in NW Florida

linda m said...

That hat had so many uses. Having lived in the southwest I would not ever go outside without a hat. Mine weren't quite that large tho, more wide brimmed than tall. Coffee on the patio sounds good. Save my spot on the swing.

Mamahen said...

I never cared much for hats. I did go through a phase a few yrs ago where I sported baseball caps tho....part of my mid life crises ....patio sounds good...i'll bring some apple turnovers for all.

Chickenmom said...

Makes me want to go out and get a new hat! Apple turnovers - yummy!

Dizzy-Dick said...

When I was kid, I remember the bigger guys calling me "half pint". After reading your posting, I now know that they were referring to the size of my cowboy hat. . .

Rob said...

Top hats & bowlers? I have a picture of my great grandfather in a bowler... My thought was fashion rather than protection from the sun.
Protection from the sun was my guess on why the cowboys wore that wide brimmed hat.

I wonder if the "10 gallon" came from a tall tale about what the hat could hold?

"Saving Grace" was entertaining, I caught it on netflix too.

JO said...

Great post today. I love cowboy hats. I have one but it is not a ten gallon. While I love hats, I wear more baseball caps than anything else.

Love to sit out with your all today. then time to put my porch back together the painting is done.

HermitJim said...

Hey Wade...
Never have seen the show, but I reckon I'll have to watch it now.

I appreciate you dropping by today!



Hey Linda...
I wore a western hat for years, but eventually started wearing baseball caps (called Gimme hats here). Now I don't wear either one much.

Thanks for coming over today!



Hey Mamahen...
Apple turnovers would be nice. I haven't had one for a while!

Thanks for the visit this morning!



Hey Phyllis...
It kinda does, doesn't it?

Thanks for stopping by today!



Hey Dizzy...
I'm glad we could help figure that one out!

Many thanks for stopping by today!



Hey Rob...
I have to agree with you about the brims.

I do appreciate the visit today!



Hey Jo...
I think a lot of us switched to baseball type caps. Most of what I used to have were free, so maybe that's the reason.

Thanks, sweetie, for stopping in today!