One of the first economic reasons to come to the U. Evidently, the cemeteries around Stockport are contaminated with mercury from the rotting bones of dead hatters. At one point they were cranking out a million hats a year.
Alyce Cornyn-Selby runs The Hat Museum out of a historic, 100-year-old house in Portland, Oregon.
In this interview, she talks about collecting men’s hats and clears up some popular misconceptions about cowboy hats and other headwear. We have more than a thousand hats here at The Hat Museum.
After you walk around like that on pulled wool, it gets compressed.
The moisture, heat, and the pressure cause it to felt, which means the fibers cling to each other in a really tight-knit kind of a way.
So, they would put mercury on the fur, which caused it to stand up and allowed the hatter to get more fur off of the pelt—you don’t use the skin to make felt, only the fur.
Beaver fur was very expensive, and the animal was annihilated in Europe. Stockport is where much of England’s hat industry was located.
Hatters did go mad because of the mercury they used in the process of making hats. I know the film has gotten mixed reviews, but I thought it was terrific. When they put mercury on fur, it caused what was called carroting because it would temporarily turn the fur orange.
: They didn’t have electricity back then, which means they didn’t have electric clippers to shear off the fur.
S., but they probably didn’t use as much of it by that time because hatters had better ways of getting fur off the pelts.
: Felting has been around for 5,000 or 6,000 years. There were no stores back then, so if you wanted something, you had to make it yourself.
Everybody who has ever owned this house has been a hat nut. My favorite era for women’s hats, though, has to be the Edwardian period when hats were at their largest.