Monday, May 9, 2011


While the bonnet is considered the hat of the early 19th century, it has some very distinct roots earlier on.  I found images starting in 1772, consistently appearing until the turn of the century.  A single image from 1740 also appears to show a very bonnet-like hat, a bit different than it's later cousins, but certainly not the plain straw hat often seen.  Another from 1765 is much more like the images below.  There is a much larger variety of sizes, shapes, and trims than I expected to find.  Black does seem to be the most common, but white is also very popular with the more fashionable sort.  Although I've seen pictures of brown, blue, pink, lime green, and even straw!  The basic form seems to be universally worn by all classes.
The biggest problem, however, is the distinct lack of extant examples.  I found only two, very different in style.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were more out there improperly dated to the 19th century, but fortunately the bonnet's popularity is quickly increasing and there may be better research to be had upon it in the near future.

Reapers, George Stubbs 1785 

 Haymakers, George Stubbs 1785

Black silk hat, dated late 18th-early 19th, appears very much like Ensign Rosebud or The Invitation
Black silk hat, 1770-80

Pennsylvania Gazette Index of Bonnets
Two other museum images here and here.


The Dreamstress said...

What a neat collection of prints! Thanks for posting

PvtSam75 said...

very interesting! I've been thinking about buying myself a bonnet for some time, and to know that there are so many period images of them out there in the world is reassuring! Now I'm not afraid to spend the money!

Taylor said...

I've been doing some research on early bonnets since I kept finding tantalizing references to "black silk bonnets" in Virginia newspaper adds in the 1740s. I did manage to find a few early Chodoeweicki images with bonnets, which are similar to the Granby bonnet.

ColeV said...

I was just perusing that post a couple days ago! The one Chodoeweiki image is almost like a Where's Waldo? of bonnets! And I love the fact that we've only but brushed the surface of this bonnet thing (and that we all share!). Exciting days ahead I think.