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One of the rituals of spring for most men from the 1890s to the 1920s was their yearly purchase of a new straw "boater" hat. Amherst's first hat factory was L.M. Hills and Sons, built in 1829. Hills ran his factory until his death in 1872, when it was taken over by a succession of owners. In 1892, George Burnett purchased the firm and created George B. Burnett & Son. In 1895 it was employing about 325 at the height of the season. Although this hat was not a Burnett hat, it was nonetheless sold at the Burnett Hat Shop in the village, and it dates from the 1890s to the mid-1920s. It is a typical example of one of the better models of straw boaters, with a fine fabric lining and leather headband. The market for straw boaters declined dramatically during and after the Great Depression (1929-1940), first for economic reasons and later from a change in style.
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