Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Great-Grandmother's Hat

Curiously, there is but one relic of my Great-Grandmother Constanta Hopkins Snow, come down to us after her death in 1677 (a year after the death of her husband, Great-Grandsire Nicholas Snow)--her hat, a picture whereof I have found on the Net, and here enclose. It's somewhat the worse for wear after three and a half centuries, but being of stout American beaver, felted in England, it retains most of its original "steeple" shape and floppy brim, only slightly dog-eared.

Such hats were worn by both men and women throughout the first half of the 17th century, as may be seen in the St. Gaudens statue of 'The (male) Puritan,' and in the wedding portrait of himself and his bride by Peter Paul Rubens, wherein the bride wears a much smarter and more be-trimmed version of my grandmother's hat. Note, however, that the rakish floppiness of the brims of Grandmother Snow's and Mrs. Rubens' hats are both quite similar, and--each in its own way, in its own day--fetching. A reminder that the Constanta Hopkins of 1627 was widely acknowledged to be a very beautiful (and extremely capable) young woman. I wonder if Great-Grandsire Nicholas was anywhere near as good-looking as his bride?


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