Young Brothers, New York
Top hats for men have been worn in the West since the late 18th century and are still de rigeur for the most formal occasions: as an invitation to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, for example, requires gentlemen to wear unadorned top hats of black or grey. When JFK gave his inaugural address bare-headed – the first time that had been done – commentators call it “The death of the top hat”.
This sealskin hat (initialed “B.G.B.”) and its accompanying case were manufactured in New York City. A top hat made by the same company in 1898 – that one of silk – is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.