Our Top Five... Collectible hats of film, art and history
This week, there has been worldwide fascination with a fascinator as Princess Beatrice's spectacular Royal Wedding hat is sent under an online hammer for charity.

The impressive/bizarre Philip Treacy creation in tea rose silk worn at Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials has now achieved a bid of £18,400 (over $29,800) and the eBay auction doesn't end until the end of the week. All the proceeds are going to charity.

With that in mind, we thought it would be a great time to look at our top five favourite collectible hats.

W C Fields's stovepipe

Legendary comedian W C Fields launched his career with a performance in the 1923 Broadway musical Poppy. In the show he wore a light grey, felt stovepipe hat with wide black ribbon band.

Fields insisted on wearing the hat in the 1936 film version, as well as Sally of the Sawdust (1925), through a combination of superstition and sentiment.

W C Fields stovepipe hat
W C Fields's stovepipe hat

It was sold in Heritage's February 2009 Music and Entertainment Memorabilia Auction - in surprisingly intact condition given that it was more than 70 years old. (It had been built to cope with Fields's acclaimed juggling and comedic mishandling.) The hat was sold for $31,070.

Jack Ruby's fedora

President John F Kennedy's murder in Texas caused shock waves to run through America. His killer Lee Harvey Oswald was quickly apprehended and would no doubt have faced the death penalty in time.

Nightclub owner Jack Ruby hastened the process however by shooting Oswald at close range just two days later - live on national television. He was wearing a grey fedora hat with a black band and the cry "follow the hat!" became famous worldwide as he tried to make his escape.

The hat beat its $35,000 estimate in another Heritage auction (November 2009) to achieve an impressive $53,800.

Oddjob's lethal bowler

Of course sometimes a hat can be a weapon in itself. There can be few better remembered villains from the Bond films than Oddjob and his steel-rimmed headgear. Not a man you would want to play Frisbee with.


In a 1998 auction at Christie's in London, the hat worn by actor Harold Sakata in the 1964 film Goldfinger went under the hammer and turned out to be the top lot of the night, selling for £62,000 (roughly $104,000 at the time).

Charlie Chaplin's 'Tramp' hat

Another movie hat in a similar style but for a rather more sympathetic character was the original hat used by Charlie Chaplin in creating his world famous 'Tramp' character.

A hat and cane used by Chaplin in a scene using the 'Tramp' character in the film, The Great Dictator was sold by Bonhams in the summer of 2006 for $139,250.

Charlie Chaplin Hat and Cane
Charlie Chaplin's hat and cane

The Deep Blue Sea

Some people will do anything for attention. At a July 2009 Opal Jewellery Design Awards Presentation Dinner, a wearable sculpture entitled Deep Blue Sea was unveiled. It would have made Princess Beatrice's hat look terribly tame by comparison.

The metre-high spine-crusher boasted 28 opals weighing a total of 1,486 carats. They were set in 337 grams of sterling silver and 18 carat gold.

Created by Australian designer Ann-Maree Willett it was valued at $1m.

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