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The Welsh hat is unique to Wales. With its tall crown and broad, flat brim, both covered in silk plush, there is nothing quite like it in the world. Many working women in Wales wore men’s hats around 1800: some were a little like bowler hats while others had broad floppy brims and low flat crowns. The Welsh hat may have been derived from tall hats worn by some gentlewomen at the beginning of the 19th century. However, it seems likely that one of the large companies who produced silk top hats were commissioned also to produce the Welsh hat; this was worn by a small group of Welsh women from the late 1830s. Most surviving hats have a slightly tapering crown, were made in Bristol or London, and were worn in south-west Wales; hats with straight sided-crowns were made and worn in north Wales. Over 220 19th century Welsh hats have survived. Welsh hats made during the 20th century were made of card and cotton or felt.

This exhibition took place at the National Library of Wales between 21 June and 4 October 2008.

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