Hello, hello! It has been a while since I put up a blog post but since I frequently receive a lot of requests for information about vintage hats, including value, that I thought it was a great time to write a post.
This is NOT going to be a specific value discussion but about how I determine what hats I purchase and offer on my website, The Vintage Hat Box, and why.
First and foremost, please understand that all vintage hats are NOT created equally. Just because a hat can qualify as vintage, does NOT make it valuable. There are a lot of factors to consider. Most importantly for my customers, who typically wear their hats, is condition. I strive to offer hats that are in very good to excellent condition. Meaning they may have minor flaws, such as a small break in a veil or minor defect in the trim, but nothing that significantly detracts from the beauty or use of the hat. You will occasionally see hats in lesser condition, but I usually only offer those because they were acquired as part of a group, cost me nothing additional to list, and may hold some appeal to someone.
Next, I consider style and color. I prefer them to be of a style AND color that will appeal to someone in today's world. Black, dark blue, brown, white, and cream hats sell very well. Whereas, orange and purple hats may take a little longer to sell. What about the style? Some are classics, such as Bretons, berets, cloches, pill boxes, and wide brims that appeal to a wide group of buyers. Then you have the odder shapes, older hats and iconic Bes-Bens and Schiaparellis (boutique label, not the licensed label) on the other end of the spectrum. Some of these are much rarer and very desirable to collectors so they have a MUCH higher value than your average vintage hat. I have been very fortunate to own and sell a few of these over the years. Bes-Bens are my favorites.
I also have to consider the quality of the hat. How is it constructed? If it's felt - is it a wool or a fur felt? Fur felts are of a much better quality than wool. Is it an animal fur hat? While they may be lovely and considered luxurious in their day, their appeal is not the same in today's society and they are very slow to sell, if at all. Was it mass produced or from a boutique? The more unique the item is, the more likely it is to be desirable to a collector.
And finally, I have to make sure it is in a size that will fit. The average size today for a woman's hat is 22 - 23 inches. Of course, there are always exceptions but, generally, most people will fall in this range. So, even if it's a fabulous hat, if it falls outside of that range, say 21 inches, then I have to consider whether or not it's worth the investment and if I have a buyer for that size. Occasionally, I do, but more often than not, I don't.