A Slightly Belated Straw Hat Day Appreciation Post!

Posted on May 17th, 2018 by

Did you know, May 15th is Straw Hat Day?

Straw hat with black band made by the M.S. Levy Co. as a sample, n.d. The sample was sent to Harry Levinson in Indianapolis, in a brown cardboard box with internal components designed specifically for this hat and returned to the company at a later date. Gift of Ellen Levy Patz, JMM 1997.93.1a

Straw Hat Day is the traditional day to switch from felt hats to straw! You can read more about Straw Hat Day here (and about the Straw Hat Riot of 1922 here).

You should also check out this early blog post from JMM Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church on some of the fabulous straw hats in our collections.

If that’s not enough for you, we’ve got two great titles on the Levy family, Baltimore’s premier straw hat manufacturers, for sale at Esther’s Place!

The Levys were active in leadership and volunteer roles in the Baltimore Jewish community and leaders and innovators of Baltimore’s once-thriving straw hat industry. Each book is authored by a member of the Levy family, one by Alfred H. Moses and the other by Lester S. Levy.

Betsey and Michael Simon Levy. Gifts of Mrs. Lester S. Levy, JMM 1972.15.4-5.

Michael Simon Levy, the founder of M.S. Levy & Sons, was born March 11, 1836, in Mur-Goslin, Germany. Early on, after running away from his tailoring apprenticeship, Michael met up with his brother Ralph in Manchester, England who was manufacturing hats. Michael joined the business and learned the trade quickly, opening his own shop by the age of 20. It was in Manchester that he also met Betsy Jacobs, and they were married in March of 1856.

After losing everything in 1860 due to a bad speculative investment, Michael emigrated to the United States. His family soon joined him in New York before all heading to Baltimore in 1866, where the opportunities for work were brighter. Baltimore proved to be a welcoming new home for the Levys and their hat business. (See the Maryland Historical Society’s Introduction to “M.S. Levy and Sons Account Books, Records, 1884-1958, MS 1091″ for more info.)

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