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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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A top hat was not restricted to formal wear in the 19th century. Men and boys wore them to meeting (church services), school, and for work. Some top hats were made of braided rye straw that women in New England made at home as part of the "putting out system". They were paid a certain amount per hat. The hat depicted here is made, in part, of hair from the under coat of a beaver.
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