Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another American Institution Closes It's Doors - Beaver Brand Hats 1860 - 2013

Beaver Brand Hats 1860 to 2013 - A Eulogy

Vintage Beaver Brand Hat

I always wanted to be a cowgirl, just like Annie Oakley or an indian like Sacagawea.  I confess I can still fantasize about being a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition or being a ranch hand out west.  I wished for and "Santa" delivered my first western hat when I was three.  When I was eight my parents purchased my first authentic cowboy hat for me at a "real" western store in Arizona. I'll never forget the smell of leather and the sound of the scuff of shoes on the worn hard wood floors.  My hat was a natural cream color, traditional cowboy hat which I would wear with my red and white gingham check shirt and blue jeans.  I was one of the good guys! And now to you I confess, over the years, western style hats and old hats in general have been a secret love.  

Christmas 1958 wearing my pajamas (the kind with the feet in them) and my new hat!

Nothing says the west like the silhouette of a cowpoke or a cowgirl on a horse wearing a well worn hat. From my earliest memories as a child I wanted a horse and to ride the range.  I saw cowboy's and cowgirl's as free thinkers, independent soles who had the tenacity to help shape a nation.  Like many a cowpoke, I can "hear a song" when seeing a hat; feel that special tingle when you slide it on your head, undergo a transformation of self and spirit.  Whoever you were, you are now a cowgirl or cowboy.

American manufactures like Beaver Brand, Stetson, Resistol, Levis and Remington are a part of our history.  Just saying the names releases the magic of the old west, spurring a memory, story or song.

Here's a verse from one favorite, Chris Ledoux's ballad, "This Cowboy's Hat":

You'll ride a black tornado, cross't the western sky
Rope an ole blue norther and milk it till it's dry
Bull dawg the Mississippi, pin it's ears down flat...
Long before you take this cowboy's hat....
Now partner, this ole hat is better left alone,
She used to be my daddy's, but last year he passed on.
My nephew skinned the Rattler that makes up this ole hatband,
But back in 69 he died in Viet_Nam
Now the eagle feather was given to me by an indian friend of mine
But someone ran him down somewheres round that Arizona line
And a real special lady gave me this hat pin
But I don't know if I'll ever see her again.

More lyrics:

Please pardon my romanticized ramblings and look past the tear that fades down my cheek.  The Beaver Brand Company has died and another piece of America and Americana has died with it.

After 153 Years Beaver Brand Company Closes It's Doors to Hat Making

Since 1860 Beaver Brand made hats by Americans for Americans.  Beaver Brand originated in St. Louis, The Gateway to the West, coincidentally the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804.  This was where settlers would stock their larders for the trip out west.  They produced hats under the Langenberg brand.  In 1928 they moved to the small town of New Haven, Missouri.  Many workers were second and third generation hat makers and purchased the private company in the early 1990's.

Their moniker was "Beaver Brand - Always a Standard of Quality".  They delivered exceptional quality in timeless styles; it was one of the few companies in the world where you could custom order a hat to your specifications.

Their hats are a part of the western collective consciousness and they will be missed.  It was said in the old west a person could tell where you were from by the type of hat you wore.  In many ways it's still true today.  You can go anywhere in the world, if you're donning a cowboy hat, you're American.

Although they ceased production around October of 2012, on July 20, 2013, Beaver Brand Company will formally be liquidated in an auction located at their manufacturing plant in New Haven, Missouri.  If you're in the area and interested in attending, the auction preview is July 19, 2013, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and the auction begins at 9:00 am on July 20, 2013.  American history for sale, I'm sure there are some true treasures to be found.

Among the things being auctioned are:

"advertising, International Time Recording Co Endicott, NY antique time clocks, original art works by Jonathan Wright, Beaver Brand Hats lighted sign, antique 14 drawer cabinet units, massive antique glass front hat display unit, salesman sample hat travel cases, original Beaver Brand Hat boxes, labels, old photographs 1860’s, HUGE LOT OF PRODUCT-various styles of hats, 12+ denim jackets “Don’t Mess With My Beaver Brand Hat”, antique oak office chairs, awesome Beaver Brand Hats lighted advertising sign, hat catalogues, fern stands, oak farm style table"  From the Auctioneers advertisement which can be found here:

A moment of silence please; take off your hat, hold it over your heart and say a word or two for a great American company; the Beaver Brand Company.  While you're at it you may want to say a prayer for all American businesses.  Large and small we need all the help we can get.  Please remember: buy local, buy American, support small business.  It is the heart, and sometimes the soul, of America.

The vintage Beaver Brand hat pictured is available in my vintage shop.  UPDATE - The hat shown has SOLD!

Thank you,
Debra TheInspiredTrader