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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution ; and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

The great hat manufactories of the United States,   pp. 496-510 ff.


Page 498

GREAT HAT MANUFACTORIES.
however, send their stock to the original location of the machines, in
New York City, where it is made into bodies and returned to be fin-
ished at the factory. In 1860, the owners of this process, then running
thirty machines, were, for months, forming ten thousand bodies per day,
and doubtless their present production is not lower than that figure,
notwithstanding the fact above cited, that several establishments have
the invention in immediate use. In addition to the formation of the
body, the subsequent operations of " pouncing," " blocking," and " fin-
ishing" are likewise now performed by machinery, and quite recent
experiments have also met with a promising result in the attainment
of a method of " sizing," which materially advances the quality of the
production.
The fact that more than one house in the country, yearly sells, of its
own manufacture, upward of five hundred thousand hats, and that one
establishment supplies from three hundred thousand to four hundred
thousand of bodies to the finishing shops, is clearly illustrative of the
progress of this great industry, from the day when the " lean-to" of a
New England or Now Jersey farm house with its set kettles and dyeing
ovens, generally worked only after harvest and before planting time,
furnished by the handiwork of the farmer and his family, the head
gear for a whole district. Not less marked in the quality of the pro-
duction than in its quantity, bowever, is this progress. The fine dress
silk hats, of domestic manufacture, rarely exceed three ounces in
weight; the old " castors," only in exceptional cases, were as light as
eight ounces, and generally weighed from ten to twelve ounces.
The Dress-Silk Hat was first manufactured in this country about
1835. Its origin is Chinese, and its introduction to the Christian
World was in 1830, through the enterprise of a Parisian modist. Its
production is confined to hatters in the large cities, who purchase the
felt bodies from the forming establishments and cover them with the
imported plush as trade demands. In point of finish, the American
silk-hat is the recognised superior, foreigners invariably conceding the
greater elegance and delicacy of our manufacture. The only feature
in which our producers have found serious difficulty to obtain the
superiority is that in which French experience and taste had for years
with justice excelled all competitors-the delicacy and beauty of color.
Even in this respect, however, domestic enterprise has within one or
two years made such advance, that it is not a question of equality but
rather of superiority of which our manufacturers now claim the favorable
decision.
As an article of head covering the silk hat is much less worn than
it was anterior to the visit of Kossuth to this country, whose patronage
498


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