Friday, February 6, 2015

Today's FFF - FrankieFunFact. 2/6/2015

Words and photo by F LoBuono
I'm a lid guy. I love hats. Always have. Baseball hats, cabbie caps, Panamas, Fedoras, Stetsons, warm hats, berets, bowlers, pork pies, top hats, beanies, sun hats, rain hats, trilbies, etc. If you can wear it on your head, I'm interested. I like just about everything about hats. So, I was curious about the term "Mad as a Hatter". Are hatters truly mad? And, if so, why??

Well, I did a little research and this it what I discovered: Hats, particularly felt hats, became the rage in the middle of 17th Century Europe. One could certainly not attend court if one's head was not topped by the proper chapeau. That trend continued well into the 20th Century (think Abraham Lincoln and his Stovepipe). Felt is apparently made by separating the fur of a beaver from the skin that lies underneath. That skin is then processed to create the felt. Caustic chemicals where used throughout the entire procedure. Now, with the discovery of the New World and its seemingly endless supply of beaver pelts, the hat business was booming. So, the hatters were "hatting away", i.e. making dozens of hats a day while, at the same time, inhaling toxic fumes, hour after hour. It was enough to made one, well, mad!

Now, what that says about people who WEAR hats is a story for another day.


  1. Your post, the part about people who wear hats, reminded me of Bella Abzug and her many, many hats!

  2. Wasn't it also absorption through the skin of mercury used in felting? I'm a hat lover. I prefer large, absurd Easter bonnet type decorative things, but unfortunately that sort of hat doesn't do diddly in winter; what good is a winter hat if it doesn't keep your ears covered and warm? I wish there were fedoras and the like with ear flaps!

  3. Loretta, my cabbie hat has a fold down flab for ear coverage - I love it!!