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Top Hat Box
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Title: Top Hat Box
Identifier: 979.6.1238.2
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1800-1850
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A top hat box with lid. The lid of the box has written on it "CAPT. J HARRIS, GREAT GRANDFATHER". The side of the lid is printed with a chart with blank spaces to write the "mark, quality, shape and size". The only field filled in is mark which says "(283)". Beside the chart is a small version of the manufacturer's mark. The side of the box has a large image of the manufacturers mark. It has a circular belt with the words "Christy's London" printed in it. Inside the circle is the royal emblem, a crest with four quadrants. The first and fourth quadrants depict three Lions Passant. The second quadrant depicts the Lion Rampant and the third depicts a harp. At the top of the circle is the imperial crown at the bottom is a decorative support. Written beside the support is "Trade Mark".

Captain James Beveridge Harris (1797-1884), born in Plumstead, England, was one of six children of Major General John Harris and Margaret Marshall. He was stationed in Canada in 1829 with the 24th Regiment of Foot but was sent back to Ireland within the same year. The regiment returned to Canada in 1836 in preparation for the possible Rebellion of 1837-38. While stationed at Ile-aux-Noix, Québec, he requested permission to sell his commission for , 1,800 and purchased Benares. The following year he brought his wife, Elizabeth Molony (1806-1884), with him to live at Benares. Elizabeth and James had eight children, four boys and four girls. Their youngest son, Arthur, inherited Benares after James and Elizabeth both died in 1884. Throughout his life in Upper Canada, Captain Harris worked his land, became Justice of the Peace, and contributed to the development of St. Peter's Anglican Church in Erindale.

Christy’s was founded in 1773 in London by Quakers Miller Christy and Joseph Storrs. By the 1800’s the company had expanded to have factories in several locations. The business thrived and in the 1850’s became mechanized. The Christy’s London trademark was registered in 1876 to protect from imitators. The use of the Royal Emblem in the trade mark image indicates that Christy’s was a provider of hats to the palace. The trend for men’s had waned slightly during the early 1900’s but made a comeback after World War II. In the 1980’s Princess Diana’s penchant for hats led to an upturn of business for Christy’s who currently make and market high quality hats for affluent sportsmen and women, celebrities and royalty. http://christys-hats.com/heritage#
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