What We Know About Abraham Lincoln’s Famous Top Hat

Lincoln’s signature hat is often referred to as a top hat. And while that is technically correct, it is perhaps more accurate to say that Lincoln most commonly wore a stovepipe hat. A stovepipe is technically a variation of a top hat, with both being tall, dark, flat-crowned hats. However, while to an untrained eye, a top hat and a stovepipe might initially look quite similar, there are a few key differences.

Perhaps the most important difference is their level of formality. Stovepipes are considered an informal subcategory of top hats, and tend to be made with non-fur felt or other less expensive materials, according to Hat Realm. They take their name from their distinctive shape, which is said to resemble a chimney or stovepipe. Top hats, on the other hand, are typically made with expensive materials like silk, real beaver skin fur, and black oilcloth coating. They are worn on formal occasions and tend to be much pricier than the more affordable stovepipe. While Lincoln certainly wore both throughout his presidency, donning top hats for fancy events and special occasions, Honest Abe’s preferred everyday wear was a more common stovepipe hat.

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