I've been collecting antique and vintage hats for nearly 30 yeas. When I was younger, people would hand me hats they had found, as they didn't know anyone else who liked hats. I even had an antique dealer who would save hats to give me that he found in wardrobes, as he was a furniture dealer.
I seem to have a lot of hats from the 1800's, 1920's and 1940's. I never set out to collect hats from these eras, but hats are like popcorn. You can't just have one. It's weird, I have a large batch of 1800's hats, but I never looked for them intentionally, they just keep falling into my lap. The green hat in my picture above and the 1890's Victorian Mourning Hat shown below were purchased from dealers for full price, so not everything in life is free.
I just like hats, and whether they are cheap or expensive doesn't matter, as much as I like the hat itself. I don't really wear the older hats any more, since I'm not doing costuming events currently. I like to wear some of the warmer hats during the Fall/Winter, but I do get strange looks around town, so I tend to wear the tamer hats.
I actually looked around the internet before posting my hats for a good hat resource, and didn't find anything that was really comprehensive with pictures. Maybe someone else has a favorite site? If so, please leave a comment!
I do, however, have a favorite book that is in many reprints.
The book is The Mode in Hats and Headdress: A Historical Survey with 190 Plates, by Wilcox. I'm sure that someone will state it isn't the most accurate of books, because all the images are drawings and not everything is exactly correct. They are correct, that this isn't the best possible book ever. However, the book itself has proven to be a great resource to me over 20+ years, and I have spent countless hours using it as a resource and studying the information. I should add that I own the 1946 edition, which is a library discard.
Before you buy your own copy (they start at $50-$100+) ask at your local library, to see if you can check a copy out, as the book is not to everyone's taste.
I've snapped quick photos of some of my hats, and as I have time in the future, I'll catalog more. I'll put up tutorials or informaition as I have time, and as I learn millinery, I hope to document my efforts, both the achievements as well as the failures.
I will also be posting some hats for sale, as I have TOO MANY hats! If you see something that interests you, drop me a line as I might consider selling it.
My Antique and Vintage and Modern Hat Collection
Antique and Vintage Hat References