Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Artifact of the Week - Umbrella Hat

This week's featured artifact is an umbrella hat donated by Joan Wahl. In the 1950s, this hat belonged to Joan's mother, Florentine Bochenko. Joan remembers her mother, a hairdresser, always having a rain hat with her. She had very fine hair and as soon as it would get wet, it would go flat. To guard against such fashion horror, Florentine always carried her rain hat with her, just in case.

The umbrella hat was first patented by William H. Patten in 1880. He developed the umbrella hat while he was a prospector in Mexico. His original design also featured netting which protected wearers from mosquitoes.

In the 1890s, William moved to Seattle, where he became known as the "Umbrella Man". He was quite the handyman when it came to umbrellas of all sorts. His eccentric demeanor, bushy white beard, cane, suit and of course, the umbrella hat, would soon make him famous: when John Ross "Dok" Hager created a new cartoon feature in the Seattle Times, William was featured in all his umbrella hat glory.

PRMA 2012.006.001 A-B

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