Of Top Hats and Logos

I (dropping the royal “we” for the moment) was fortunate to come across some genuine antique top hats last month at a C & C Trading Post. The proprietor Mr. Jim Farley, who is based in Tampa, Florida but takes his trading post on the road, was a very gracious and knowledgeable host who was willing to share. I was particularly taken by the hat pictured below, dating from 1892:

Antique Top Hat

1892 Top Hat

Inside the hat was this note:

Top Hat Note


I was able to find an obituary in the January 19, 1942 issue of the North Adams Transcript for Lincoln Stephen Hickox, Sr., the only child of State Senator Stephen A. Hickox to survive past infancy. The funeral was held in the home of Harold Hickox. The listing was under the heading “Williamstown News Section”. Williamstown, MA is in Berkshire County. Given those points of connection to the letter (“Senator Stephen Hickox”, Berkshire County, “Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hickox”, along with the appropriate time frame) , I am very confident that this hat belonged to this particular (State) Senator Stephen Hickox.

You may not know that the felt covering the hat is made from is beaver fur, and indeed “beaver hat” is another term for top hat. Beaver fur was used because it has naturally serrated edges that make the fur mat easily into a felt. Eventually, beaver fur fell out of favor (perhaps due to the declining availability of beaver fur) and silk became the preferred covering.

You probably would not wish to risk wearing an antique hat like this one, and even if you did, it probably would not fit you. Most of the surviving hats from this era are very small, because heads of this era were very small. In addition to the antique beaver hats, Mr. Farley also had a modern felt hat and a modern leather hat for sale. Here is a picture of all of his toppers:

Top Hats

Top Hats at C & C Trading Post

As you may have noticed, our Steampunk Road logo is a top hat set at a jaunty angle. We have grown rather fond of it, but we want to know what you think about it. Our original top hat was a collapsible silk hat from the 1920’s. We replaced it today with a filtered version of Senator Hickox’s hat.


New Logo

New Logo


The jaunty top hat has a lot going for it as a logo. It is simple, instantly recognizable, scalable, and it works well in a single color. What it does not do is particularly say Steampunk Road without the accompanying text.

One issue with logos is this: Most clip-art, stock photography, and share-with-attribution artwork is not licensed for use as a logo. In the future, we would very much like to offer merchandise with our logo on it as promotional material, prizes, and perhaps even for sale. That means we either have to develop the logo in-house or pay for a work-made-for-hire logo.

So we are asking you to weigh in with your opinions once more. Help us by answering the question in this survey. Thank you!

And for those who want to know about last week’s survey, the current consensus is to keep travel the way it works now.

Note: We are also contemplating the creation of a new home screen which better conveys the feel of Steampunk Road. The new home screen would feature a steamship, steam engine, penny farthing bicycle, and a zeppelin, all going places. We would still need a different graphic for a logo since the home screen image would be much too complex for small sizes.

3 Responses to “Of Top Hats and Logos”

  1. Karre Macek Says:

    We stumbled on your page looking for information on My son’s hat:)He did indeed buy the very hat that is featured in your logo. How awesome it that! Like you the hat seemed to speak to him, he was away at boyscout camp and saw it at a traveling antique mall. It seems I sent him with too much money, because he came home with a hundred thirty-six year old hat.

  2. RedQuark Says:

    Awesome! I am glad that I could shed a little light on your son’s hat. I would have purchased it myself, except that it is far too small for my head. My apologies for not approving your reply earlier. I have been regrettably away from Steampunk Road for far too long.

  3. Steampunk Road Dispatch » Blog Archive » A Steampunk Road Tutorial – Part I Says:

    […] First, go to http://www.steampunkroad.com/index.html and gaze upon that beautiful, nineteenth-century, genuine-beaver-fur top hat at a jaunty angle. We recently heard from the new owner of that hat in the comments to our earlier posting about it. […]

Leave a Reply