Christy's of London Derby Bowler Hat and Box
This is a fur felt Derby Bowler hand made by Christys' of London together with original retailer's box dates back to the early 1900s. The hat features a satin, leather sweatband and 1" grosgrain ribbon and is sized at 7 1/8". The retailer, Randall's, that first opened its doors in 1902 is still operating of a premium gentleman's outfitter in my hometown, Newark, Nottinghamshire today.
The bowler hat is said to have been designed in 1849 by the London hat-makers Thomas and William Bowler to fulfill an order placed by the firm of hatters Lock & Co. of St James's. Lock & Co. had been commissioned by a customer to design a close-fitting, low-crowned hat to protect Coke's gamekeepers' heads from low-hanging branches while on horseback at Holkham Hall in Norfolk. The keepers had previously worn top hats, which were easily knocked off and damaged. Lock & Co. then commissioned the Bowler brothers to solve the problem. The identity of the customer is less certain, with many sources suggesting it was William Coke. However research carried out by a nephew of the 1st Earl of Leicester cast some doubt on this story, and it is now believed that the bowler was invented by Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester. When Coke arrived in London on 17 December 1849 to collect his hat he reportedly placed it on the floor and stamped hard on it twice to test its strength; the hat withstood this test and Coke paid 12 shillings for it.In accordance with Lock & Company's usual practice, the hat was called the "Coke" hat (pronounced "cook") after the customer who had ordered it. This is most likely why the hat became known as the "Billy Coke" or "Billycock" hat in Norfolk.