18th Century Men’s Tricorn Hats

Various cocked hats of the style presently known as tricorns (chapeau a tricorne).

  • Met C.I.41.124.80
  • Met C.I.39.13.244
  • Met C.I.38.47.4
  • Met 26.56.87, wool, metal [thread?], and paper; Italy
  • Met 26.56.88, wool [and metal thread lace? and silk ribbon cockade?], Italy, mid-18th century
  • Met C.I.50.8.16, wool [with lace trim], France, c. 1750-1775
  • Met C.I.41.124.79, silk and silver; Austria
  • PVMA 1927.28 (also here) once owned by Colonel Joseph Stebbins, Jr., of Deerfield, Massachusetts, c. 1774; it “is made of felted beaver hair.”
  • MORR 3874, “worn by a field general under Gen. Stark at the Battle of Bennington, VT,” 1777
  • CG10; “The tricorn hat was found concealed in a property in Cuckfield, Sussex … This hat is thought to date from 1780. The outer is made of moulded, black felted wool. It is lined with white coarse woven cotton.”
  • Historic New England 1991.315AB, c. 1790-1800: “a black felt tricorne hat with single black faille cockade with faceted jet button at center (other cockade missing); glazed linen lining”
  • Meg Andrews 6591, a tricorn hat & box, c. 1800; “the outside of the box covered in hand made paper with a speckled/sponged effect in black, red on cream, labelled with an address in Alkmaar, Boterstraat(Holland), the inside lined with a magenta and cream striped paper (later) over a pale grey Greek key pattern paper, the hat of beaver with 2 1/2 in high crown, a black ribbed silk band and bow, the three sides of the brim turned up, one with a silk damask braid loop, the brim 3 1/8 in deep , the underside with a band of leather lining the rim, the crown lined with brown cotton,, stamped in gold with a crest or coat of arms.”
  • National Trust 1181028.2, blackwool beaver tricorn hat trimmed with silver-gilt thread braid and two silver-gilt tassels; silver-gilt button at the back with Herbert coat of arms
  • National Trust 437112, a tricorn hat with silver edging, edges decorated with ostrich feathers
  • NT 428806, a tin case for a tricorn hat

References and other notes

  • “In order to form me to her taste, Miss Modish has always most obstinately insisted on my complying with every idle fashion that has been introduced since my acquaintance with her, under the severe penalty of never hoping for her love, if I did not implicitly obey. This, with infinite reluctance and mortification, I have been under the necessity of doing. I remember, when high brimmed hats were in the mode, she insisted on an elevation of my beaver of near half an inch with a fierce Cave Nullo cock. The taste changed, and she would hardly allow me enough to protect my phiz from the inclemency of the weather.” (New York Mercury, January 31, 1757, cited in Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776; further description of cocked hats here)
  • A lengthy description of fashionable hats in the London Chronicle in 1762 is quoted in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction.
  • A humorous description of the Kevenhuller hat worn by General O’Hara at Gibraltar (probably between 1792 and 1802) in The Youth and Manhood of Cyril Thornton (1868): “Never had he changed for a more modern covering the Kevenhuller hat which had been the fashion of his youth. There it was, in shape precisely like that of an equilateral triangle, placed with mathematical precision on the head, somewhat elevated behind, and sloping in an unvarying angle downwards to the eyes, surmounted by a long stiff feather rising from a large rosette of black riband on the dexter side. This was the last of the Kevenhullers; it died, and was buried with the Governor, for no specimen has since been discovered, and the Kevenhuller hat, like the Mammoth and the Mastodon, has become extinct for ever.”