Oct 21, 2012

Hycroft Cowboy Hat Souvenir

Since the summer I've been casually keeping an eye out for one of these souvenirs. Made during the 1960s and 1970s by the locally operated (and now closed) Hycroft China Factory, these clay cowboy hats became popular forms of advertising with different companies names painted on them. Some people even used these hats as ashtrays because the crease in the hat was perfect for holding a cigarette.  

Medalta Potteries also produced clay hats earlier than Hycroft with the same purpose in mind, however it was these Hycroft cowboy hats that really became symbolic of the city because of local businessman and Medicine Hat Mayor, Harry Veiner. He acquired the factory in 1957 and ran it until it finally closed in 1989, but he used to give pieces of Hycroft China, like these hats, as gifts to other government officials, visitors, and foreign dignitaries. I stumbled onto a few different archival images of Harry Veiner, including one of him giving a piece of Hycroft to the Mayor of Paris. 

With my Around the Hat photo series receiving a lot of attention online, I started thinking that one of these Hycroft cowboy hats would be ideal for the cover of a potential photo book at some point.  So, when I finally saw one of these cowboy hats show up on eBay earlier this week, and actually featuring the city's name and not a company, I jumped at the chance to finally get one.  

It's really the quintessential souvenir as far as I'm concerned.  It's a white cowboy hat made from locally sourced clay and produced by Hycroft in Medicine Hat's clay district, featuring the name of the city, province, and a maple leaf all painted in 22K gold.  There are also no cracks or scuffs on this piece, and the Hycroft brand on the reverse side is cleanly stamped.  It's kind of kitschy, but it's also pretty genuine to the area.  Whether the photo book pans out or not, it's a cool piece of local history to have on display.

1 comment :

Taking it easy said...

I happen to have one on these from Hycroft. The City of Medicine Hat Western Barbecue
July 20, 1967