Transfer of Stock signed by John B. Stetson and Napoleon StetsonInv# AU1377
Stock transfer signed by both John B. Stetson and Napoleon Stetson.
John Batterson Stetson (May 5, 1830 – February 18, 1906) was an American hatter, hat manufacturer, and, in the 1860s, the inventor of the cowboy hat. He founded the John B. Stetson Company as a manufacturer of headwear; the company's hats are now commonly referred to simply as Stetsons. Stetson was born in New Jersey, the 8th of 12 children. His father, Stephen Stetson, was a hatter. As a youth, John Stetson worked with his father until John was diagnosed with tuberculosis and his doctor predicted he had only a short time to live. Given this, he left the hat-making business to explore the American West, afraid this would be his only chance to see it. There he met drovers, bullwhackers and cowboys. The former hat-maker turned a critical eye to the flea-infested coonskin caps favored by many of the gold seekers, and wondered whether fur-felt would work for a lightweight, all-weather hat suitable for the West. n 1865 — "a time when almost everyone wore hats" — Stetson moved to Philadelphia to enter the hat-making craft he'd learned from his father and began manufacturing hats there suited to the needs of the Westerners. Stetson made a western hat for each hat dealer in the Boss of the Plains style he had invented, during the trek to Pike’s Peak.
These lightweight hats were natural in color with four inch crowns and brims; a plain strap was used for the band. Thanks to the time he had spent with cowboys and Western settlers, Stetson knew firsthand that the headwear they wore (such as coonskin caps, sea captain hats, straw hats, and wool derbies) were impractical. He decided to offer people a better hat. Made from waterproof felt, the new hat was durable. The wide brim would protect people from the hot sun. Noted one observer, "It kept the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. It was like an umbrella. It gave you a bucket (the crown) to water your horse and a cup (the brim) to water yourself. It made a hell of a fan, which you need sometimes for a fire but more often to shunt cows this direction or that." Before the invention of the cowboy hat (which means before John B. Stetson came along), the cowpunchers of the plains wore carryovers of previous lives and vocations. The hat achieved instant popularity and was named the "Boss of the Plains," the first real cowboy hat. Stetson went on to build the Carlsbad, easily identified by its main crease down the front. His hat was called a Stetson, because he had his name John B. Stetson Company embossed in gold in every hatband. The Stetson soon became the most well known hat in the West. All the high-crowned, wide-brimmed, soft felt western hats that followed are intimately associated with the cowboy image created by Stetson. The Stetson Cowboy hat was the symbol of the highest quality. Western icons such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, Annie Oakley, Pawnee Bill, Tom Mix, and the Lone Ranger wore Stetsons. The company also made hats for law enforcement departments, such as the Texas Rangers. Stetson's Western-style hats were worn by employees of the National Park Service, U.S. Cavalry soldiers, and many U.S. Presidents. The cowboy hat is truly an example of form following function. "Invented by John B. Stetson," today’s cowboy hat has remained basically unchanged in construction and design since the first one was created in 1865.
In addition to the cowboy hats, Stetson also made fedoras, and women's hats. Under Stetson's direction, The John B. Stetson Company became one of the largest hat firms in the world. Stetson hats won numerous awards, but as his company grew, he "faced the challenge of developing a reliable labor force." Reportedly, "people working in the hat trade at that time tended to drift from employer to employer" and "absenteeism was rampant." Stetson, "guided by Baptist religious principles, believed that by providing for his employees he would lend stability to their lives and attract higher caliber ones." Unlike most other employers, Stetson decided to offer benefits to entice workers to stay. Stetson also made sure his employees had a clean, safe place to work, including building a hospital, a park and houses for his 5,000 employees. Stetson's unusual moves helped him build a factory in Philadelphia that grew to 25 buildings on 9 acres (36,000 m2). By 1915, nine years after Stetson's death, 5,400 employees were turning out 3.3 million hats. While Stetson profited from his business, he also wanted to give back to his community. Near the end of his life, Stetson began donating almost all of his money to charitable organizations. He built grammar and high schools and helped build colleges, including Temple and Stetson Universities. He also helped establish the YMCA in Philadelphia. Stetson donated generously to the DeLand Academy (in DeLand, Fla.), which was renamed (1889) John B. Stetson University. In 1900, Stetson University founded the first law school in Florida: Stetson University Law School. Stetson co-founded Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, in 1878. Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission has since expanded to provide more services and is still in use for the homeless population of Philadelphia. Stetson owned a mansion in DeLand where he died in 1906. The over 8,000 ft² structure called John B. Stetson House is a mixture of Gothic, Tudor, and Moorish styles, and is open to the public for tours. Stetson is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
The John B. Stetson Company, founded by John B. Stetson in 1865, was the maker of the Stetson cowboy hats, but ceased manufacturing in 1970. Stetson hats are now being manufactured in Garland, Texas, by Hatco, Inc., who also produce Resistol and Charlie 1 Horse hats.
Stetson resumed manufacturing in the 1980s, but the company went bankrupt in 1986. The factory equipment and the license to manufacture Stetson hats was purchased by Hat Brands, a company owned by Irving Joel.
The John B. Stetson Company was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1865 when John B. Stetson decided to mass-produce a hat like one he had fashioned for himself out of necessity during a lengthy Western expedition. Stetson's Boss of the Plains, with its high crown and wide flat brim, became the prototype for all other cowboy hat designs. A factory in St. Joseph, Missouri produced Stetson hats until parent company, Hatco Inc., closed it in 2004. The second factory in Galveston, Texas, continue to turn out the "Boss of the Plains," along with over 100 variations for men and women.
The Philadelphia factory, incorporated in 1891, produced dress hats for both women and men. Employing over 5,000 workers in various departments, the company turned out more hats than any other during the early 20th century.
The Stetson Company was considered especially innovative for its time. The production of high-quality hat boxes became associated with the Stetson name. These hat boxes depicted Christmas imagery or famous Philadelphia institutions. The Company also spread its reputation using marketing techniques and the recording of industrial films promoting its process and product. Hats and copies of the film Birth of a Hat, produced by the Company itself and showing the hat-making process, were distributed to merchants and popular conventions where feedback was recorded and used to make future product.
The first significant change in the Company occurred after John B. Stetson's death in February 1906. His position as President of the Company was filled by J. Howell Cummings.
Stetson sales declined dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s. Between 1947 and 1968, revenues sharply dropped from around 29 million dollars to about 8 million dollars. Members of John B. Stetson's family eventually decided to sell company stock, Ira Guilden, who controlled Ramco Enterprises Inc., came into conflict with the Stetson family although by 1968, he would have majority interest in the Stetson Company.
In the early 1970s, the factory in Philadelphia shut down. Even though the clock tower, gymnasium, auditorium, and fitting room were saved from destruction, they burned down in 1980.
John B. Stetson quickly gained a reputation as an employer driven by religious morals. He ran the Stetson Company in a paternalistic fashion designed to provide benefits for workers, increase profits, and discourage unionization. The Stetson Company provided many benefits for the time such as prizes, Christmas bonuses, shared stock, pensions, and membership to a building association as well as access to Stetson facilities. These facilities serviced several aspects of an employee's life. In the early 1900s, Stetson added a company library, dentist, hospital, auditorium, and athletic fields for recreational use. The John B. Stetson Building Association assisted over 1,000 employees to purchase homes, and over 2,000 children of employees attended Sunday School or Kindergarten on company grounds.
One of the most anticipated events at the Company surrounded the Christmas holiday. Employees gathered at the factory auditorium for an annual celebration that featured speeches from the Company President or Santa Claus, and a distribution of awards, bonuses, and gifts. These gifts and awards varied according to one's position at the Company. Women received candy and gloves, married men received a Christmas turkey, and unmarried men were given hats.
Many Stetson employees were immigrant hat-makers with reputations of moving around where work was plentiful. The Stetson Company, to encourage yearlong work and a high retention rate, offered immigrants a portion of annual earnings as a Christmas bonus, increasing each successive year. Some of these immigrant workers were able to become U.S. citizens, partly due to the "Americanization" classes the Company offered that offered English among other subjects.
Highly specialized positions in the factory utilized the apprentice system. Those recruited to an apprenticeship signed contracts valid until they had reached eighteen years old or completed three years of work. While under contract, they agreed to abstain from gambling or marriage. Pay was two dollars per week with an additional dollar for every week worked after the contract was fulfilled. Many apprentices became full-time employees and had the potential to become a foreman due to their loyalty to the Stetson brand.
John B. Stetson's tradition of providing annual bonuses, Christmas gifts, and facilities for employees were an active attempt to dissuade unions. However, there was a sizable number of union workers at the Philadelphia factory during the early 1900s. They were ordered to leave the factory by their union and work at shops instead. Some of these workers demanded to stay on until Christmas when they received their bonuses and this was generally allowed. However, the attraction of an end of year bonus was so great that many returned to the factory as non-union workers.
In 2006, when visiting the White House, President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir received a black stetson as a gift from the then-U.S. President George W. Bush. He reportedly liked it so much that he purchased several. He now seldom makes public appearances without a black cowboy hat.