Mad As A Hatter

Here’s another from The Archive for Hats Week – 20% off all hats this Sunday 2nd December at Hornets.


“It is said…” Those three words often hide a multitude of sins. And they come in quite handy when trying to discover the origins of the saying “Mad as a Hatter”. The etymological source of the phrase is disputed, but (here we go) it is said… to come from the use of mercury in the curing of pelts used in the making of top hats. Exposure to the mercury made hat makers go doo-lally. Hence Mad as a Hatter.

The great anomaly of the tale, however, rests is the maddest hatter of them all. Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter exhibits psychiatric symptoms the very opposite of those associated with mercury poisoning – which induces a sense of timidity and lack of self-confidence.

Carroll created Alice in 1865, but the phrase appears as early as 1829 in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Actors to have played the part include Peter Cook, Anthony Newly and Johnny Depp.

P.S. For pre-decimalisation Horneteers, the ticket in his hat – 10/6 – means ten shillings and sixpence (or half a guinea).


On Sunday 2nd December there’s 20% off ALL HATS at our shops here in Kensington. Click below to view our Three Days Of Christmas film for more details.

Hornets Vintage the Online Shop

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