[Ads-l] Ten Gallon Hat - and other volumes (two, four, five gallons)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 10 12:26:43 UTC 2023

The note by Campa appears on p. 201 of that volume and is nearly impossible
to find because it isn't separately indexed.

The full text in AS is identical to that of the reprint, except for the
correct spelling of "connection" with two Ns.


On Mon, Apr 10, 2023 at 12:04 AM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I am looking into the early uses of “Ten Gallon Hat” and variants.  I am
> looking for help in finding the text to an article in American Speech,
> probably in 1939, in which someone named A. L. Campa first floated the idea
> that “Ten Gallon Hat” is a corruption of a Spanish word for a decorative
> braid on a hat.  The theory goes that a nice hat had ten decorative braids
> – “Galons” or “Galloons,” which was corrupted to “ten gallon hat.”  An
> alternate theory says it might be derived from Spanish “tan galan” – “so
> gallant.”
> Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), November 11, 1939, page 10.
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/122585116/public-opinion/
> This clipping is a reprint, it says, of an article by A. L. Campa in
> American Speech.
> “In the nomenclature of the Southwestern cowboy, sombrero is used
> interchangeably for hat, but the qualifying phrase of “ten gallon” has been
> arrived at by a mistaken translation of a Spanish word.  The word “gallon”
> had no reference to size at one time; it simply served to describe the
> braid with which a vaquero’s hat was trimmed, and instead of being “gallon”
> it should have been “galloon.””
> The article goes on to assert that “gallon” is frequently used in Mexican
> ballads in reference to hats, but does not claim that “ten gallon” (or the
> Spanish equivalent) ever appears.
> Does anyone have easy access to that magazine who might be interested in
> finding the article and sending me a copy or somehow giving me access to
> it?  My limited search capability in HathiTrust shows me that A. L. Campa
> does appear in American Speech volume 14, 1939 at pages 217 and 342 as
> paginated by HathiTrust database.
> I doubt both of these theories.
> “Two gallon hat” appears in print from as early as the 1880s as an
> irreverent name for a silk top-hat, plug hat or stovepipe hat.  Sometimes
> the volume of such hats is even given as four, five or ten.  Even into the
> 1920s, after “four gallon” and “ten gallon” have been associated with
> western style hats, there are examples where a formal silk top-hat is
> clearly being referred to in context.
> The exaggerated volume of the hat playfully refers to the exaggerated
> shape or height of the hat, not a literal claim on the volume of the hat
> body.  Big cowboy hats are bigger than plug hats, and just got bigger
> volumes, generally, although plug hats were sometimes given larger volumes,
> and cowboy hats were sometimes referred to by as little as “two gallon
> hats” or even “gallon hat” in one instance I could find.
> The earliest examples of “ten gallon hat” referring to western style or
> cowboy hats appear as early as 1918 in Texas.  A widely reprinted article
> about military recruiting in Texas in 1918 refers to “ten gallon hats” worn
> by Texans from small towns and ranch country.
> But a Stetson ad from 1926 refers to “four gallon hat,” and a request for
> locals in Fort Worth to wear their big cowboy hats in 1924 refers to them
> as “four-gallon hats.”
> Hollywood movie magazines in the 1920s routinely refer to cowboy hats a
> merely “two gallon hats.”
> Sent from Mail<https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986> for Windows
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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