Dating vintage stetson hats
The second label below featuring a lot number is from the circa-1930 Derby, though this lot number appears to have far more in common with a "To Duplicate" or "Reorder" number. Photos from left to right, or top to bottom: "Cavanagh Make" debossment on the Derby, an Opera hat, the inside of the Derby, and a label from a circa-1930 Derby for comparison.
Because I knew that John Cavanagh liked to drop in from time to time on the Cavanagh division's curling bench to curl the brims on some of his branded hats, I had originally hoped that his initials meant he had personally curled the brim on this particular Derby.
As an example, here are two Cavanaghs separated in manufacturing time by thirty years: From my experience, most Cavanagh hats in existence today, and that come on the market, are almost always from 1954 into the 1980s.
Earlier ones are rarities, though through diligence one can still find them.
The earliest versions on Cavanagh hats say John Cavanagh, Ltd, and "247 Park Avenue, New York." This address in the liner dates from the opening of the store in November/December 1928, though Cavanagh didn't apply for a trademark until December 12, 1929. These versions are from 1928 to 1936, and probably on the earlier side.
From the mid-1950s onward to the present day, crowns typically tend to be lower and brims are very narrow.
A name synonymous with the cowboy lifestyle, Stetson is perhaps the best known cowboy hat manufacturer in the world.