Only landlubbers and lunatics head to sea without the proper headwear, and pirateclothingstore.com is here to tell you all about the hats worn by the pirates of old.
The Golden Age of Piracy, spanning from the late 17th century to the early 18th century, was a period marked by maritime exploration, colonial expansion, and the rise of piracy. As naval personnel and pirates navigated the high seas, the headwear they donned played an essential role in their daily lives, serving both functional and symbolic purposes. This essay will delve into the various types of hats worn by naval personnel and pirates during this era, exploring their design, significance, and the cultural influences that shaped their style.
What are pirate hats called?
Pirate headwear came in all manner of shapes and sizes, from the ostentatious brocaded, feathered tricorn to the simple, practical bandana. Here are some of the most common hats you might expect to see if you were to travel back in time to The Golden Age of Piracy.
Tricorn Hats: A Naval and Pirate Favorite
One of the most iconic hat styles of the Golden Age of Piracy was the tricorn hat. This hat, with its distinctive three-cornered design, was worn by both naval personnel and pirates alike. Made of wool or felt, the tricorn provided protection from the sun, wind, and rain, making it a practical choice for life at sea. The upturned brim allowed for better visibility and prevented the hat from being blown off in strong winds. The tricorn also carried symbolic meaning, as it was associated with power, authority, and social status. As such, it was often adorned with various embellishments, such as feathers, ribbons, or metallic trim, depending on the rank and wealth of the wearer.
Monmouth Caps: A Practical Choice for Sailors
The Monmouth cap was a popular hat choice among sailors during the Golden Age of Piracy. Named after the town of Monmouth in Wales, where it was first produced, this cap was made from wool and featured a distinctive rounded shape with a small brim or cuff. The dense, felted wool provided warmth and protection from the elements, making it an ideal choice for sailors working in cold, wet conditions. Due to its practicality and affordability, the Monmouth cap was widely worn by lower-ranking naval personnel and common sailors
Bicorn Hats: The Evolution of Naval Headwear
As the 18th century progressed, the bicorn hat gradually replaced the tricorn as the preferred headwear for naval officers. This two-cornered hat was similar in design to the tricorn but featured a more elongated shape, with the brim folded up on either side. The bicorn was often adorned with gold or silver braiding, feathers, and a cockade to denote the rank and nationality of the wearer. While less commonly worn by pirates, the bicorn hat still made an occasional appearance among those who sought to project an air of authority or had previously served in a navy.
Bandanas and Scarves: The Pirate's Casual Choice
For pirates who favored a more casual and practical head covering, bandanas and scarves were a popular choice. Made from lightweight, breathable materials such as cotton or linen, these versatile head coverings provided protection from the sun and helped to keep the hair out of the face. Bandanas and scarves were often worn by pirates of all ranks and could be adorned with various patterns and colors, reflecting the wearer's personal style or the flag of their crew.
Hats have long been an essential component of fashion and culture, serving as functional accessories and symbols of status, occupation, and identity. The 17th and 18th centuries, when piracy was at its most prevalent, were a particularly fascinating period for hat manufacturing, with innovations in materials, techniques, and styles reflecting broader socio-economic and cultural shifts.
Materials and Textiles
During the 17th and 18th centuries, a wide range of materials were used in hat manufacture, each with its own unique properties and applications. Wool and felt were among the most commonly used materials, prized for their durability, warmth, and affordability. Linen and cotton were also utilized, particularly for lightweight hats and caps, while more luxurious materials, such as silk and beaver fur, were reserved for high-end headwear worn by the upper classes.
Techniques and Craftsmanship
Hat-making during the 17th and 18th centuries was a specialized craft that required the expertise of skilled craftsmen, including hatters, milliners, and trimmers. These artisans employed a variety of techniques to create hats, ranging from the blocking and shaping of felt to the intricate embroidery and embellishment of silk and other fabrics.
One of the key innovations in hat-making during this period was the development of felt, which was made by pressing and matting wool fibers together using heat, moisture, and pressure. This process produced a dense, water-resistant material that was ideal for hat-making, as it could be easily shaped and molded into various forms, such as the iconic tricorn and bicorn hats.
The Role of Guilds and Apprenticeships
The production of hats during this period was regulated by guilds, which were organizations of skilled craftsmen that set standards for quality, training, and trade. Guilds played a crucial role in maintaining the expertise required for hat-making and ensuring the continuation of traditional techniques.
Apprenticeships were an essential component of the guild system, with young men typically beginning their training around the age of 14 and continuing for a period of 5-7 years. During this time, they would learn the various aspects of hat-making, including the preparation of materials, blocking, shaping, and finishing, under the tutelage of a master craftsman. Upon completion of their apprenticeship, these craftsmen would be granted the title of "journeyman" and were permitted to practice their trade independently.
Global Trade and Influence
The 17th and 18th centuries were marked by an increase in global trade and the exchange of goods, ideas, and techniques between Europe, the Americas, and Asia. This had a significant impact on the hat-making industry, as new materials, designs, and technologies were introduced to European markets.
One notable example of this is the introduction of beaver fur from North America, which quickly became a highly sought-after material for hat-making due to its exceptional warmth, water resistance, and luxurious texture. The popularity of beaver fur led to the establishment of new trade routes and even contributed to the exploration and colonization of North America.
The various hats worn by naval personnel and pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy provide a unique insight into the lives, culture, and fashion of this captivating historical period. From the iconic tricorn hat to the humble Monmouth cap, each headpiece served a practical purpose while also reflecting the rank, wealth, and individuality of the wearer. By exploring the design and significance of these hats, we can better understand the complex social dynamics and cultural influences that shaped the world of naval personnel and pirates alike.