American Hat Company | Celebrating 100 years
One of our favourite hat manufacturers, the American Hat Company is celebrating their 100th year of designing & producing their much loved cowboy hats of the finest quality & craftsmanship.
At Outback Traders we are proud to stock American Hat Company products. Quality and craftsmanship combined with good old fashioned service and family values are the reason this company never lets us down.
History of American Hat Company
In the beginning
Lets take a journey over to Houston Texas when way back in 1915, many moons before we all learnt to throw our legs over into that first stirrup iron. Imagine for a moment a thriving city of a population of 45,000 strong and sporting 8 story “skyscrapers”. The first ships were journeying up the newly finished ship canal to the Port of Houston.
It was then in 1915 that Sam Silver founded the American Hat Company and started making and selling hats. Since that time Houston has grown and so has American Hat Company.
Three generations of the Silver family continued to carry on the tradition of fine hat making. It was in the 60’s that Bubba Silver developed the open crown weatherproof straw hat that American Hat became so famous for.
In 1984 Bill and Billie George purchased the company and moved to the nearby town of Conroe where It continued to operate until 2003 when current owners Keith and Susan Maddox purchased the American Hat Company and subsequently moved the company to Bowie, Texas. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Keith Maddox who has dedicated his life to the Westernwear industry. In recent times the Maddox family have teamed up with Keith Mundee and together they are taking American Hat Company to a whole new level.
American Hat Company is known throughout the world as the hat preferred by Rodeo Champions, Ranchers and Texas Lawmen. American Hats were worn by the likes of Freckles Brown, Larry Mahan, Jim Shoulders and Lane Frost to name just a few.
Innovators of Style
American Hat Company’s attention to the details
American Hat Company has always been an innovator in styling, manufacturing and finishing. Prior to the 1950’s straw hats could not be worn in the rain without being ruined. That’s when American Hat Company developed a special water resistant finish.
American Hat is also credited with developing the “open crown” concept. Hats shipped with an “open crown” could be shaped to fit the wishes of the customer. To this day American Hats traditional dealers order their hats in an “open crown” with a “flat brim” and they shape the hats to fit their customers. When a specific shape is requested American Hat Company has professional hat shapers who shape each hat by hand at no extra charge.
It’s this heritage of quality and innovation that has made the American Hat Company the choice of rodeo champions and ranchers since 1915.
Tools of the Trade
The identity of a cowboy
The cowboy hat is a tool of the trade, but it also helps to form an identity. A hat can tell a lot about a person, simply by how it’s shaped, the coloring, and even scrapes and stains it collects as it travels down the rodeo road.
American Hat Company is celebrating their 100th year and as you can imagine they have sold millions of hats that all have probably earned their own unique stories, but there are many of these hats whose stories are just beginning at the National High School Finals Rodeo.
“We have a hat for everyone here: The trend setters, trend adopters, and those who are tried and true,” said Keith Mundee, President of American Hat Company. “Everything straw we have is hand woven and the felts are made from the highest quality available. We make our hats fashionable, but functional.”
Looking after your prized possession
The ‘X’ mark you see on a hat is used to identify the quality of the felt. The higher the number for example 40X, 100X, etc the higher the quality of the felt, although there is a need a take care of this because this really isn’t standardised across the country so it can be a bit of a guess to estimate the amount of beaver hair actually used in the making of felt hats.
Keith Mundee says to understand the quality of the felt in a hat it’s best to ‘get your hands on the hat, there should be no wrinkles: bumps and roughness in the felt. Stiffness is not necessarily a good indicator of the quality either but rather the smoothness is.
How to wear your hat like a pro
Yes there is a right way and a wrong way to wear a hat, there’s the greenhorn way which is backward and then there’s the tried and tested way as explained by Keith.
“Folklore has it that the bow at the back of the hat is a representation of the skull and cross bones. When they first started making hats they used to use mercury in the finishing which ultimately lead to people getting sick. This is where you hear the expression ‘Mad as a hatter’ came from.”
When to take your hat off
When you actually do take your hat off don’t place it on the bed, it can bring bad luck! Instead look for a hat rack or pop it down on the crown of your hat to avoid placing stress on the brim. When should you take your hat of has some varied opinions but Keith explains he has been it on first hand authority that removing your hat isn’t just about stepping indoors.
“When I started some years ago, I heard from all parts of Texas, most of Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado that the 10 gallon hat is no ordinary hat but rather a part of western man’s uniform – to be worn with pride and honour and remaining on the head for as long as the gentleman had his boots on.”
We are so thrilled to stock the authentic American Hat Company Products as we have done so since we began in 1991 and proudly wear the flag with our brothers who are celebrating 100 years of their heritage….