The sale of items from the legendary late collector set new participation records for a Sotheby’s UK auction.
Jack McConnell was a hat designer of note. His frivolous feathered creations are highly collectible today. If a Jack McConnell hat bears the label “Styled by Jack McConnell New York” it is a one of a kind McConnell original, designed by Jack McConnell. A red feather would have been pinned under these labels – if the red feather is still intact, this will positively influence the hat’s value.
The “Jack McConnell Boutique” label means that the hat in question was designed by McConnell or a member of his team. These hats were made in varying numbers and many are considered quite rare despite not being one offs.
"Its for the Birds, Jack McConnell,” hats are thought to date from the milliner’s early career. The words will be machine embroidered and the body of the hat will probably be stamped Lancaster – a company that made hat bodies during the 1960s-80s.
Jack McConnell received many celebrity commissions throughout his career, however, the man himself remains frustratingly mysterious.
If you love hats, history, art and antiques and like to collect things, you will find collecting hats to be a rewarding and potentially profitable hobby. A knowledgeable collector can frequently buy great hats at yard sales, auctions on on-line sites for a fraction of their value.
Collecting hats is more fun if you wear them. Aside from museum-grade hats, a hat collection ought to be enjoyed. Rain and snow, however, can ruin vintage Jack McConnell hats - especially those made out of delicate fabrics or embellished with sequins and feathers. Water may dissolve the glue adhering to the feathers, or shrink or even permanently stain hats, causing irreparable damage.
If a hat does gen wet, sake it gently and pat it down with a towel. Do not apply heat as this will only further damage a delicate hat. Once you have removed enough moisture as you can, leave the hat on a hat form or a wig head, or, if you have neither of these, stuff the hat to shape with bubble wrap, crumpled (plain) paper, or balled plastic shopping bags.
A well stocked hat cleaning kit is likely to include: a can of compressed air, a loopy nylon pile link removal brush, a small sponge, an assortment of unused paintbrushes and a tape-roller lint remover.
Cleaning can damage certain hat materials. Start with the least intrusive method and if that does not solve the problem, move onto more serious methods.
Hats are fragile and certain popular fabrics such as straw and velvet have memory. Treat your hats with care.
If a hat has moth holes, don't buy it. The likelihoods of the fabric harbouring moth eggs is very high and, by adding a moth-eaten hat to your collection, you may be sentencing every hat in your collection to a similar fate. If a hat arrives with moth holes that were not disclosed, send it back.
To prevent moths, pack your collection with cedar blocks - cedar is a natural moth deterrent.
Hatpin holes are another common complaint among hat collectors. As a general rule, if a hatpin hole is very obvious, buy an attractive hatpin and insert it through the existing hole. Hoever, if a hatpin hole is neat, tiny and faint, remove the hatpin and store hat and pin separately.
Although flattened feathers can be fluffed with steam, proceed with caution. An all-over feather hat may have water-soluble or heat soluble glue attaching the feathers to the hat, which steam could impair.
Inspect the hat thoroughly to make sure that heat will not damage it in any way. Thoroughly inspect the trim. If the hat body is made of paper straw or cellophane straw, if there are any wires in teh trim or other areas, or if any rhinestones or beads have been attached to the hat with glue, DO NOT USE STEAM.
Some hat collectors advise that the natural oil on the surface of a person's hand can be beneficial to crushed/flattened feathers: stroke individual feathers between your thumb and forefinger.
If a feather stem is bent or even broken, you may be able to repair it by applying a droplet of craft glue onto a toothpick and nudging it back into place.
Entire feather pads can be replaced, feather by feather, while if your hat appears to be missing feathers, replacements can be purchased online.
When you're not wearing them, store your hats inside boxes, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper, in a dark, cool but dry closet. Storing hats out in the open air for very long will run the risk of moth damage. Moths love felt, feathers, and many other things that hats are made of. If you display them in glass cases, make sure the sunlight doesn't hit the case or the hat may fade.
A pair of vintage Jack McConnell cloche hats sold for $150 at Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales Ltd. in Septmeber 2008.
Three vintage Jack McConnell straw hats sold for $25 at Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales Ltd. in September 14 2008.
Five vintage Jack McConnell feather hats sold for $225 at Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales Ltd. in September 2008.
On the date of writing, exceptional Jack McConnell hats are listed on the online auction site 1st dibs at upwards of $500.
Vintage Jack McConnell hats currently appearing on Ebay are generally listed at between $70 and $120. Exceptional hats warrant higher price tags.
The more intricate the featherwork, generally, the more the hat will be worth. Further to this, the more dramatic or unusual, the better in the minds of collectors.
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