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How Union Labels Help to Date Your Vintage Clothing

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Hats are often impossible to date in exact terms. Once in a while there is an actual ink stamp on the inside of a leather sweatband telling us the date the hat was made or sold but this is very rare. Sometimes there is an original receipt from when the hat was purchased. Even less reliable is family lore on when a hat was purchased so few people know anything about hats that this is a highly unreliable method of dating. Other times we know through hat company advertisements that a particular, marked model was only sold during a specific time period. But usually one can only make an educated guess based on when particular models were introduced taken with the various manufacturing methods used on the hat.

Follow the arrow and look behind the sweatband for the tags. Here is what it looks like when you turn down the leather sweatband.

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Now, be very, very careful when you turn that sweatband down. On older hats the sweatband stitching can be very delicate. Turning down that leather in a rough manner can easily result in the stitching breaking apart of the leather cracking.

If you are afraid of damaging the hat, just take a peek behind that leather.

Dating union hat labels

If the hat is in great shape, though, go ahead and turn it out. But be aware that a leather sweatband is NOT made to be constantly flipped in and out of the hat. Hatters may suggest that the sweat be turned out when drying a modern, newly made hat, but this is NOT a good habit on vintage hats for the reason noted above.

A leather sweatband is generally manufactured to stay flipped inward to hold the proper shape of the hat opening but the bigger problem is age. It is not usually safe to flip sweatbands in and out on an older hat. So, once you see your reorder and size tags, best to take a photo of them and then never flip that sweatband out again if you can help it! Late in the s Stetson instituted a great idea for customer relations.

Once he found a hat style he liked, he usually tried to stay with that as long as possible. A man was making a personal statement with his hat. So, Stetson implemented a way for a man to replace his favorite hat with exactly the same style as his lost or worn out hat. The ultimate in customer service. This reorder system lasted from the late s to about when Stetson finally dropped the service.

The separate re-order tag seemed to appear in a myriad of different versions.

Sep 02, †∑ Dating a Vintage Hat by Its Label. By, Dianna Hanson. Dating a vintage hat can be a little tricky. It has been my experience that only about one in three hats has a label of any kind, while others may have up to three. However, here are a few tips to help guide you. Victorian and Edwardian hats donít usually have a label.

The first was a brown tag that was almost square-but not quite-and lasted to sometime in the mid to late s. Then came a second version in orange. Finally came an orange version that was a bit more rectangular than the second.

But there were several other types, to. Still, it is currently unknown just when Stetson started using paper tags inside hats to denote size, style, reorder numbers and block and crown depths. The earliest tag I have seen is from somewhere between the s and In any case, Stetson seems to have had well over a dozen different tags that all appeared in certain eras.

Louis Police.

The Fedora Lounge Guide to Union Labels

This English Bobby-like police hat was popular in American cities until the early s when they went out of fashion for our police departments. This one is similar to the one above, but has the categories moved around a bit. So, it was made between and The black and white tag is often seen on bowlers. This one has only been seen a handful of times. It perhaps from the s or as late as This was found in a bowler. Here is another alternate version, this one also a rare sighting.

Again it is unknown how long this one was used. Ultimately, Stetson used the two separate tags from sometime in the s all the way until about or so when they went to the white tag seen below.

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This tag went from about the s to somewhere in the late s. This one was mostly gone by the mid to late 20s but some stocks of them were still being used up. This tag came to light recently from collectors at the Fedora Lounge website and seems to be from the s to s or so. Hallmarks of later logo imprints were less sharply delineated imprints and, again, by the 60s it was no longer imprinted at all but just printed in black or gold ink onto the surface of the leather.

The logo imprint on a s era Stetson Select Quality. The logo imprint on a s era Stetson No 1 Quality Western.

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For instance, previous to the more mechanized hat factories of the late s and later, sweatbands were often just sewn right to a hat directly.

But as new manufacturing processes began to take hold, a new way of attaching the sweat to the hat began to become more commonplace. By the mid to late 20s the latter style became the most common way to attach a sweat to a hat body than the former. It is seen between the leather and the hat body. This reeding helped make a sturdier attachment. The reed was often connected to itself in the back of the hat with a bit of brass. Over time, this brass often degrades into verdigris and stains the hat a green color right at the back where the sweatband meets itself.

The natural reed was soon replaced with a wire reed and still later with a plastic reed. Still, it depended on the hat maker.

Jul 10, †∑ And now on with Dating Stetson Hats By Inventory Tag. Dating Stetsons by inventory, style and sizing, or re-order number tags might only give you a general set of dates of not more than a decade or two, but taking note of these inventory tags can give you a general idea of the era in which your hat was made. Jul 08, †∑ Union labels, though, can only give the most general idea on dating based on when the unions were active. The earliest hatters union was the National Trade Association of Hat Finishers of the United States of America. This union was formed in and went defunct in I have yet to find an example of this unionís official label. UNION LABELS FOR HATS. Source: (left) 4u2own21 on (right) New York Wanderer. WHEN USED: to LOOK FOR a union label by The United Hatters of North America (UHNA). The label was trademarked in but was first used in

By the dawn ofsome hat makers switched totally to reeded sweatbands on all hat models, some used the reeded sweatband on only some models and sewed the sweatband directly to the hat for others like pocket hats or crushablesand yet other hat makers never adopted the reeding system at all. Another hallmark of pre hats was the stitch configuration. By the 30s and later sweats are more commonly sewn to the hat with an up-and-down stitch.

The above two notes are most especially true with Stetsons, but, again, these are general rules for the hat industry.

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There are exceptions. A Stetson western from the s or previous with the vvvvv stitching. An example of verdigris. The next telltale is how the ends of your sweatband are fixed together. In our day, sweatbands are usually sewn together with a stitch that runs all up and down the ends.

UNION LABELS ILGWU AFL-CIO

But previous to the s, the ends of sweats were not sewn together up and down. Perhaps there was a loop or two at just the very end of the sweatband to keep the ends from flaring, but more often there were completely un-sewn.

Previous to the 30s one of the ways that hatmakers kept the ends from flaring out and looking untidy was to use a strip of heavy paper tape behind the ends. This tape had a heavy glue on it that kept the sweatband ends together.

The little bow that we often see at the back of a hat is also one of the methods used to keep the ends from flaring. Later this tiny bow became merely decorative or was used to hide the stitching of a size tag sewn into the sweatband.

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A Stetson 3X western from the s or previous with the sweatband ends unsewn. A Stetson fedora from the s with the sweatband ends unsewn. A Stetson strawboater from the s with the sweatband ends sewn together. So, there you have it.

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Some general ideas on how leather sweatbands were made in the era between and These telltale signs might help you date your hat. Good hat wearing and good hat hunting. Finally, the last thing that might help date your hat is how the size was marked. Between the s andfor instance, the usual way that a mass produced hat was marked for size was a tiny round sticker with the size printed on it was glued directly to the sweatband at the back of the hat.

Sometimes this sticker was diamond shaped or square, or even a little scalloped shape, but most often it was just round. These were glued either to the sweatband itself usually in the middle of the band or even glued to the felt of the hat above the sweatband - the latter usually only when a hat was produced with no liner.

This changed sometime in the late 20s or early 30s. By that time the size tag became an actual tag sticking down from the back of the hat where the sweatband meets. Sometimes glued in, more often sewn through the cardboard and into the sweat band.

Sometimes this size tag was a little piece of cloth, too. These tags could also be offset from the sweatband ends an inch or so right or left from where the sweatband meets, sticking down out from the leather.

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One other thing on size tags. If your size tag is a sort of rectangular thing with black words printed on gold paper, it is likely a hat made well after and more likely in the s and later. Also, if it is an American hat with a metric size number on it, it was probably made after A s era Schenley Homburg showing older size sticker style.

A cloth size tag on a Mallory fedora from the s. This one lasted from the s to the mid or late s. This lasted from about the s to the 30s. By the s, Stetson went with a manila card stock with only black ink printed on it. This one lasted until ByStetson went with a squared off tag printed in black. Some time after Stetson was sold off to the Stevens Hat Co.

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These tags were a bit less common than those above. Here is another size tag that Stetson used during the early s.

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But this one is rarely seen. Early in the 30s, Stetson had a tag that was embossed and featured gold foil and black ink. Some Canadian manufactured Stetsons were also printed on gold foil. This one from the s. As such, sometimes earlier tags show up in later garments. There will also, almost assuredly be a number of variant tags which did not make it into this guide. Keeping this in mind, never use a union tag as the sole means of assessing the age of a garment; always use it in combination with other dating methods.

The Progressive union had jurisdiction over unionized tailors of ready-made clothing. The union had a socialist lean and was short lived, existing only from It re-organized inand had jurisdiction over unionized custom tailors. Its refusal to accept "less skilled" otr and mtm tailors led to the formation of the UGWA. They first issued a union label in I can not find reference to the union past c.

Modern history books point to as the demise of the union, but period documents and garments show it was around until at least the s. Custom Tailor's Union Label.

Custom Tailor's Union Label variant. They issued a union label shortly after their organization. Inthe UGWA started placing their union label on factory-made made to measure clothes, which the Custom Tailor's Union felt overstepped the jurisdiction of the UGWA union, creating friction between the rival unions. They resolved that the UGWA would have jurisdiction over all non-custom union made garments.

The United Garment Workers of America tag remained virtually unchanged from its first usage in until its last in The most notable change occurred c. The first two label variants date from the first decade of the 20th century. The second two are representative of what was used ss. Tag from Note presence of signature of Henry White, General Secretary.

Feb 13, †∑ Quick Tips for Dating Vintage. Side seam zippers - late ss. Short, center-back neck zippers - mostly ss. Sleeve zippers - ss. Coil (plastic) zippers - invented in , but not in common use until the early s. Center-back dress zippers - seen occasionally in the s and early s. Jun 21, †∑ Looking for help dating a hat with a union label. Cap and Millinery Workers Int. Union". I've done some research and have found this: "The United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (UHCMW) was formed in by the merger of the United Hatters of North America and the Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union. If this style of union label has no R, then the garment was made between June 28, and April 21, UNION LABELS ILGWU RED, WHITE & BLUE. ERA: to LOOK FOR: The same design as to , only in red, white and blue colors. Made in U.S.A. is colored in red and more prominent below the ILGWU logo.

Slight difference in illustration of hands. In this example, the signature is omitted, though this is likely just for the ad in which this image originally appeared. Depending on what was the tag was on, there could be different background text. Generic variant omitting the background text, used for advertising purposes. Last edited: May 9, May 9, 2. The two unions had a rocky relationship in the years to come.

Due to the large number of makers under this union, these ACWA union tags are the most common tags in vintage menswear, and are also the most useful for dating. Arond that time, they started putting their union tags in garments. The ink on tags rubs off sometimes, complicating issues. For instance, the top of a tag may rub off and appear to read Or the side of a label may rub away to look like There are a number of variants to each of these labels.

Dec 22, †∑ The Tailor's National Progressive Union Though founded after the Journeymen Tailor's Union of America, the Tailor's National Progressive Union was the first clothing union in the United States to issue a label on union made clothes in The Progressive union had jurisdiction over unionized tailors of ready-made clothing. The ILGWU, United Hatters of North America, NRA Blue Eagle, Consumers' Protection Label, N.Y. Dress Institute and Amalgamated Workers of American union labels will help identify the era of your vintage clothing. This article illustrates how a union label's design speaks to the authentic age of a vintage garment with vi. Jul 15, †∑ In the union became part of CIO. Tags are notable for their "AFL-CIO" attribution or lack thereof. The AFL and the CIO merged in , therefore any ILGWU labels with AFL-CIO (look closely, as it is often very small) on them are post In the labels were changed to a red, white, and blue color scheme.

The designation on the label will not always match the type of garment into which it is sewn. R started being used shortly thereafter. May 9, 3. Post- Golden Era clothing union evolution: As these are beyond the scope of the era of interest of this board, I will only briefly go over the different American clothing unions of the s-present.

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