Ten Gallon Hats

Some cowboy hats have been called “ten gallon” hats. The term came into use about 1925. There are multiple theories for how the concept arose.

One possibility is that the tight weave of most Stetsons hats made them sufficiently waterproof to be used as a bucket. Early print advertising by Stetson showed a cowboy giving his horse a drink of water from a hat. The Stetson company notes that a “ten gallon” hat only holds 3 quarts (about 3 L instead of 40 L). However, though a very high quality felt hat made from animal fur may hold water, even a cowboy hat with a large crown holds less than a gallon of water, and over time, any cloth container will leak.

The durability and water-resistance of the original Stetson obtained additional publicity in 1912, when they raised the battleship USS Maine, which had been sunk in Havana harbor in 1898. They found a Stetson hat which had been submerged in seawater for 14 years; it had been exposed to ooze, mud, and sea-growths of the water of the harbor. However, the hat was renovated and to all appearances was as good as ever.

Modern hats are usually not made to be as durable as the original designs. When most modern felt hats get wet, the hat is apt to lose much of its ability to hold its shape, thus using it as a water container will destroy most modern hats, other than a few at the very highest quality range.

Another theory is that the term “ten gallon” is possibly a corruption of the Spanish term “galón”, or galloon, a type of narrow braided trimming around the crown, possibly a style adapted by the vaqueros. “The term ten-gallon did not originally refer to the holding capacity of the hat, but to the width of a Mexican sombrero hatband, and is more closely related to this unit of measurement by the Spanish than to the water-holding capacity of a Stetson.” Thus, the term “ten-gallon” did not originally refer to the holding capacity of the hat, but to the width of a sombrero hatband. When Texas cowboys misunderstood the word “galón” for “gallon”, the popular, though incorrect, legend may have been born.



July 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: