Civil War Officer’s M1858 Hardee Hat
Civil War Officer’s M1858 Hardee Hat – This Civil War Officer’s M1858 Hardee hat retains its original, maker’s label in the crown of the hat. The label reads:
BAKER & MCKENNEY
Manufacturers and Dealers
141 Grand Street
In the middle of the label, on two pre-printed lines, is hand written the following:
“Robert M. Jones
There appears to be additional hand written words on the label, although these words are indiscernible. As of this posting, we have not been able to specifically identify Robert M. Jones.
This hat, as indicated by the address listed on the label for the well-known purveyors and manufacturers of military accouterments and hats, Baker & McKenney, was most likely made in1864. According to the compendium volume “Directory of American Military Goods Dealers & Makers – 1785 – 1915”, compiled by Bruce S. Bazelon and William F. McGuinn, the firm of Baker & McKenney became known as Baker & McKenney when James McKenney a long time employee of John Baker, who had started the business in the mid-1840s, purchased the firm from Laura Baker, widow of John Baker, in 1864. Mrs. Baker maintained an interest in the business until 1871. Starting on January 9, 1864, the company was known as Baker & McKenney and began appearing as such in The Army and Navy Journal ads in late January of 1864. Also in January of 1864, the firm moved from its original address at 63 Walker St. in New York City, to 141 Grand St., also in New York City. In the Fall of 1864, Baker & McKenney secured a contract from the U.S. Army, for the production of 10,000 sets of accouterments.
The hat remains in excellent condition; it is constructed of beaver or rabbit felt. It retains its original and complete, wide brown leather sweatband; there is an old tear in the sweatband, but the band remains firmly in place. The brim is bound by a coarse, ribbed, grosgrain, silk ribbon. The lighter form or gauge of this same black ribbon, originally surrounded the crown of the hat, although much of this original ribbon is now gone, with some aspects remaining. (Should the new owner of the hat wish so, we can have our textile conservator place an original, period, black silk ribbon in place of the current damaged one.) The finely embroidered, officer’s, Hardee hat eagle, affixed to the folded up side of the brim, is in great condition; it is an enhanced, bullion wire version of the eagle, with a colorful, bright blue field surrounding the eagle’s head and a yellow field for the riband, with “E PLURIBUS UNUM” in bullion thread on this field; the shape of this insignia is somewhat unusual, as it is somewhat oblong, as opposed to the usually encountered oval shape. The front of the crown has a bullion thread, infantry hunting horn insignia, with a silvered, stamped, sheet brass, faux bullion, regimental designation “5” in the bend of the horn. Surrounding the crown, is a finely woven, gilt bullion, officer’s hat cord, with fine condition, acorn style tassels on each end of the cord. An original, black, iridescent, ostrich plume is tucked into the fold of the upturned brim, on the side with the eagle insignia. A near match to this hat appears in “American Military Headgear Insignia” by J. Duncan Campbell and Michael J. O’Donnell, on p. 212. Also, a very similar officer’s, infantry insignia and hat cord appear in the Civil War period catalog of military items for sale by the firm “Schuyler, Hartley & Graham”. This is a fine example of a rare, Civil War officer’s, M1858 Hardee hat.