Take me on a Sea Cruise…:A Passion for Fashionable Headgear.

Well…it’s only been two years since my last post.  So now something I have been contemplating as a topic for a while…Captain’s Hats!! I love nice hats, but in particular I have always had a thing for boats, water (even though i swim like a rock!) and Captain’s Hats…or more properly Yachting caps.  Almost every major retailer in the world sold them at some point.  Sears, J.C, Penny’s, K-Mart, most sporting goods stores, and even hardware stores.  My first Captain’s hat came from a small Army-Navy Surplus store in Beavercreek, Ohio called Sandy’s Surplus. I suppose the bug bit during the 1970’s when “Gilligan’s Island” was on constant rerun, The Captain and Tennille were popular, and a constant barrage of old war movies were shown on Saturday afternoon.  So what hope was there!?!  It seemed everyone wore an officers cap! In actuality my first hat was made of paper.  Notebook paper I think.  My folks wouldn’t buy a hat, so I cut up paper and colored it with ink and made a hatband, top…it was even contoured the crown…and drew the fouled anchors on.  With a bit of Scotch tape…I was ready for sea trials. Then the second hat was likely one from a discount chain like K-mart.  But my first REAL Yachting cap came at a price.  Dad took me into Sandy’s Surplus, and I saw the hat.  My folks probably decided it was better to succumb to my passion for such headgear by buying a nice hat, rather than having their son running around with a paper hat.  I was doing poorly in school, and the hat was purchased and held hostage high up on a shelf…where i could look, but not touch…until my grades improved.  Well  That never really happened as I recall it.  But eventually my folks gave me the hat, probably so they could have the shelf space.  I wore that hat out!  The headband was cardboard, there was a plastic rain cover sewn over the top to keep it dry and clean…until the plastic got hard and cracked.  So eventually the hat went away…to the trash I suppose. Many years later I still had been pinning for a nice quality cap, and finally found out…when the internet was new…that Lancaster Cap Company of Los Angeles, California made THE YACHTING CAP of the stars!  Alan Hale wore one as the Skipper  So did Jim Backus who was Thurston Howell III.  So I called and found out I could buy the hat through The Quartemaster Supply Co. or a store at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.  I called and found that the hats sold for the princely sum of 75.00 each.  They came in Midnight Blue…(Black), or White and Black.  Any size.  I ordered the “blue” one.  Wore it for a few years and then left it on top of my car…drove away and never saw it again! So again I called these places, but alas these caps had become poor movers in the retail environment, and were no longer available.  So I called Lancaster Cap to plead my case, and a nice lady there talked with the boss who then said they would sell a hat to me directly, but the price was 125.00.  Okay…okay…I’ll pay the extortion money,  After all it had been a number of years since I bought my first cap.  So I ordered one of each…”blue” and Black and White. Alas…I went to dinner with a friend before his wedding, and left the “Blue” cap at the restaurant.  By the time we got back…it was long gone! Once again it had been some years since my last purchase, so I called Lancaster Cap and the same lady answered.  She put me on hold and came back to announce that the current price was 325.00 each CAP!!  I nearly evacuated in my pants.  I protested that I’d long loved the hats, especially their caps, and paid 75 bucks for my first one, 125 for the last batch…and was left scratching my head trying to figure out in a dwindling market how they justified the cost increase. Well she put me on hold and came back and announced she talked with the owner or someone and they would indeed custom make whatever cap I needed for 150.00 each.  I ordered three I think.  One “blue”, one Black and White, but then a thought hit me. I asked if they would honor that price for ANY CAP? “Yes” was the answer. So I took a leap of faith and ordered on Black and White cap with the Admiral’s “scrambled egg” on the visor with not the nylon, but the actual gold wire bullion!  NO INSIGNIA please! The lady chuckled a bit and said it would be no problem, and then took my info, credit card and assured me the hats would be made and sent along in a few weeks.  They were!  I was glad I did this when I did as the company fell on hard times and closed a few years later after 85 years.  Their last run was for the folks at the Woody Boater blog, but due to a major illness in our household, I was not able to get in on the last order from this storied company.  I’d love to have had the Chris Craft Cap and a Khaki cap that Woody Boater folks spec’d out.  They looked amazing. It is my secret dream to reopen Lancaster Cap if I hit the lottery so I can make hats and go to boat shows and sell them a reasonable prices.  SIGH… After wearing these hats for as long as I can remember, and with the internet, auction sites, and on-line flea markets, I have assembled a collection of caps over the years.  Some are my size, some not.  But the amazing thing is the variations on each companies offerings, including variation on different generations.  I have several Lancaster Caps, and though there are similarities, there are some subtle differences too. So lets take a gander at Yachting Caps in popular culture and in person… Alan Hale-002 Undeniably the first face and person anyone thinks of when they see a Captain’s hat…Alan Hale Jr.  Mr Hale was one of the cast of Gilligan’s Island who really embraced his place amongst the cast of characters from the isle.  He continued to wear his headgear the remainder of his life.  The original he used for the series was bronzed and given to the creator of the show, Sherwood Schwartz. Captain & Tennile-002Yup!  Next person that comes to mind is The Captain.  Daryl Dragon was part of the musical family who made Hollywood.  His father Carman Dragon was a conductor and worked in the studios, as did young Daryl.  It is true, if you decide to wear a hat ingsuch as this, and you and your wife a walking into the store, there is a great likelihood of have a rather annoying parallel  drawn between “Us” and “Them”.  So be weary.  Be understanding!  The idiot who makes the comment usually thinks it is the first time you’ve heard such witticisms ringing in the air!  I haven’t had to be assaulted by this one in quite a while, but it’s coming.  I’m overdue! As a wannabe jazzer, it is not a shock that many members of the jazz community have adopted the Yachting cap as a moniker.  Bandleader/Composer/Arranger – Duke Ellington, Jon Hendricks – Scat singing extrodrinare, and a Who’s Who of others. One of my favorites is this guy…The Count, Splanky, The Chief…Count Basie! Basie-004Basie-002Basie-001The Count…William Basie is the epitome of cool…swing…and all that is great in jazz!  He is royalty!  Thus he should wear a hat fitting his station in life.  He was always in command of the swingin’-est band. I was told once by Bandleader/Trombonist Grover Mitchell that Mr. Basie never would buy an expensive cap.  He liked inexpensive caps.  Grover would know.  He was Mr. Basie’s lead trombonist from the 60’s and 80’s (the end of Basie’s life) and his “Lieutenant”.  He helped Mr. Basie get around toward the end of Basie’s life.  He also told me he was charged with buying these hats on occasion.  Mr. Mitchell later lead the Orchestra after The Chief’s passing, and brought the band back to its roots.  He also brought it to Grammy Prominence. Some others who wore the caps in life were…

Hefner-001 Mr. Playboy Magazine-Hugh Hefner

Bogart-002 kH_U9

Film noir icon Humphrey Bogart in “Key Largo” at left.

John Ford John Wayne-001

Director John Ford and his star John Wayne.


Jazz Hammond B-3 Organ master Jack McDuff


The Voice-Frank Sinatra


The Heir-apparent to the Voice-Bobby Darin



Clooney - Ferrer

And even Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer…if only for this album.

Others were charged with wearing such headgear for various movie roles.

Joel McCrey & Rudy Valley-001Spencer Tracy

Joel McCrea and Rudy Vallee…and Spencer Tracy…

Cary Grant Charles McGraw-001

The rough looking Cary Grant in “Father Goose” and Charles McGraw in “The Birds”.

John Wayne-002 thurston howell-001

Again “the Duke” with Lana Turner in “The Sea Chase” and Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III in “Gilligan’s Island”.  For a three hour cruise…Mr. Howell packed a bunch of yachting caps…from Lancaster Cap, and Midway Cap Co, and maybe even a lesser priced Han-Kraft.  He’s seen here wearing an Midway Cap.

Yachting caps were used in advertising too!  Yes it seemed everyone on a boat or in a bar wore one.

Book cover-001

Book cover-002Javelin-001

Logically outboard motor ads would feature a cap.  Here both sporting a “flat-topper” style cap more common in the late 50’s through the 1970’s.


His-and Hers beer ads!

Ballentine-002 Ballantine-004 Ballantine-003

This guy can’t decide what to do…

But his cap is a dead ringer for my cap made by Worth & Worth of New York City!!

And then there is the sex angle.  Pin up girls! Pin-up-003

This is a throw-able life preserver with a pin-up sporting her Captain’s Hat!  What a way to be saved!!

Pin-up-002 Pin-up-001

I’m sorry!  I know they aren’t Politically Correct, but they are fun, silly, and even kinda sexy.

So now on to my collection…

Captain's Hats overview-004

N’yup!  That’s the wall.

We nearly were getting buried by a Hat-valanche each time i tried to move one…so when I restored my 1949 Thompson boat…(My other bad habit!)…we used some of the left over mahogany from the decks to make an expandable hat rack.  Unfortunately…i’m out of space again!  So many hat’s so little time…

Captain's Hats overview-003 Captain's Hats overview-002

So with some cheapo dollar store hat racks space was annexed over the closet door…and on a vintage hat rack.

Captain's Hats overview-001

The view above my desk. Maybe I need a 12-step program!!

There is no easy way in which to cover my collection.  By vintage?  By Manufacturer?  By type?  By cost?  By quality?

It’s amazing that there are so many by-gone manufacturers and these hats have disappeared from the landscape in favor of the ball cap.  YUCK!  How mundane.

Some of these caps are of incredible quality and they have survived nearing a 100 years in one case.  Quite amazing!


This is a very early…and my earliest example…is this old gem from the early 1900’s. It was sold by S. Appel of New York City and is in pretty good shape for being a century old.  Yes the leather visor is melted and has an alligator-like look, but they all can be perfect.  This hat has a story to tell.  Maybe the fact that she was made at, or near the time of the Titanic’s launching helps with some perspective.


S.Appel#1-004 S.Appel#1-003

The other give away that she is very early is the Yacht Club insignia being embroidered on the head band webbing, not a patch or on the crown of the cap.  Having the insignia on the webbing was more common to British caps and early steamship lines of the era.  This insignia a very tight and intricate design with anchor chains that are nearly 3-D and not only one, but two “ropes” of bullion circling the inside and outside of the life ring.  Also notice the detail on the anchor bales.  The enameled burgee pin is amazing and is from Columbia Yacht Club of New York City at the end of 86th Street.


S.Appel#1-005 S.Appel#1-006

Her chin strap buttons are also very ornate compared to later versions.  The silk liner is stamped with the merchant who sold her.  Love that big yacht…the style of which is indicating she is quite old.


The visor is leather with a strange reinforcement.  Amazing the leather sweat band is in good shape.  She has aged gracefully…with a few wrinkles.

E.J. Willis-001

Perhaps my second oldest cap is this one from E.J. Willis Co. of New York, NY.  I would guess that she is of the early 1920’s owing to the cut if her crown, visor, and the fact that the blue hat cover is removable not unlike the military caps of that era.

E.J. Willis-002

Notice that her insignia is a felt background with the gold bullion wire embroidery.  Though not as intricate as our first example, the wire bullion has a great patina and only one “rope” inside her life preserver.  The chains on the anchors are not nearly as pronounced…and there is less detail.

E.J. Willis-003 E.J. Willis-004

Her buttons are still nicely cast brass, and the silk headliner is bearing the name of the merchant.


Our next specimen is an oldie but a goodie!  Estimating her to be again in the 1920’s, owing to the visor and small circumference crown, this hat is made by Barney’s Atlantic Uniform Co. of Boston, Mass.  I believe this is a hat similar to what Rudy Vallee is sporting in the photo above from “The Palm Beach Story”.

Barney's-003 Barney's-006

The visor is very small-ish and of patent leather.  The inside headband is made of wicker as is common on older vintage caps.  Unfortunately her sweatband is long gone.


Again the gold bullion wire is used on a felt patch for the insignia.  The enamel yacht club burgee is in good shape with the initials NBPBC.  I can’t find any information leading to what club this may have been.

Barney's-004 Barney's-005

A couple of parting shots.  Her crown is very small compared to later caps.  The lettering inside has endured well.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-001

This cap is a bit of a mystery.  My friend from the Antique Outboard Club bought this in Florida at a boat show.  He dangled it in front of me for most of two years before succumbing to my pleas to liberate it from his clutches.  With that said, I don’t know its manufacturer.  It looks much like an early Han-Kraft or a Midway Cap Co. hat.  But I lean toward the former.  The cover is removable and the cut of the visor is similar to the Han-Kraft Fly Weights, but is of russet leather construction much like military caps of the late 20’s and 30’s.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-002

The insignia is a patch that was sewn on with a zig-zag stitch…which is unusual.  The enameled medallion is fantastic…with the burgee of the Shearwater Sailing Club.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-003 Han-Kraft Flyweight#3-004

Again the visor can be seen in a side profile to be very slight, and she is not unlike a “50 Mission Crusher” cap of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

And that moves us on to the first of several hats from the Han-Kraft Co. who made middle of the road, but nice Yachting caps.  They are certainly not of the quality that Lancaster Cap Co. or Bancroft Uniform made, but closer to a Midway Cap Co. hat.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-001

This is the first example of the Han-Kraft Fly-Weight.  It is stitched together and cannot be disassembled for cleaning as upper-end hats might be (With the exception of Lancaster Cap Co..) so it would need to be dry cleaned.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-002

The insignia on the Fly-Weight is “stripped-down” by comparison to its predecessors.  While still made of gold bullion wire, the life preserver has no additional “ropes” on the inside or outside, but it still has nice detail and is larger than most insignia of the time.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-003 Han-Kraft Flyweight#1-004

Again the profile of the visor is quite small, and the leather sweat band is in good shape, yet both are fairly fragile at this stage in the game.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-001

This is a New-Old-Stock Han-Kraft Fly-Weight cap with a removable hat cover, webbing, and as an added bonus an extra webbing with “Midshipman” embroidered on it.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-002

The fouled anchors patch is new and was not sewn to the hat when I got it.  It was found inside the sweat band inside the cap.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-003

The really unique part of this find was the addition of the “Midshipman” braid that attaches via the chin strap buttons.

Han-Kraft Flyweight#2-004

Again, the interior is pristine.

Again there are wide variations in the quality of caps by manufacturer.  So lets look at a few caps from my collection that are nice examples.

Abercromby and Fitch#1-001

This cap was made by Abercrombie and Fitch and sold through their stores.  This particular one is very similar to the one Humphrey Bogart wears in “To Have and Have Not”.

Annex - Bogart, Humphrey (To Have and Have Not)_02_CHD

Notice his hat has a very tight crown in this photo and the insignia is embroidered onto the braided band around the hat.

Abercromby and Fitch#1-002

Embroidering the insignia onto the felt backing and down onto the braid is fairly unusual in hats I’ve seen.  The insignia is quite stripped down not unlike the Fly-Weight cap above.

Abercromby and Fitch#1-003

Another Abercrombie cap…

Abercromby and Fitch#2-001

A generation later than the cap above is this offering from Abercrombie and Fitch.  Similar but the visor is different.

Abercromby and Fitch#2-002

Also the insignia, while basically the same as the earlier version, is now entire embroidered on a felt patch and sewn to the braided hat band.

Abercromby and Fitch#2-003

No mistaking who made this cap.

Bancroft Uniform Co. is still around and a leading supplier of uniforms and caps for police, fire, and military.  They are also owned by the same folks that own Midway Cap Co. of Chicago, Illinois.  Here are two examples of Bancroft caps.

Bancroft Zephyr-001Bancroft Zephyr-002

This cap is a Bancroft Zephyr with a slightly different insignia,  I confess I built it out of pieces and parts to resemble the hat John Wayne wore in “Blood Alley” with Lauren Bacall.

John Wayne-003His actual cap in this production was much early in style as the visor is similar to those of the 1930’s.

Bancroft-001This is by all accounts the “Douglas MacArthur Cap” of Yachting Caps…PERIOD!  Who in the world would have ordered a cap that is so ostentatious and elaborate?  This cap has a lot of unique features, but will eventually get a new hat frame since the original visor has long ago given up its shape which is common in the older hard/fiber board visors.

Now onto some features of this Bancroft Cap.


Again, the fouled anchors are fairly stripped down, but the number “62” or “G2” is embroidered on a small felt patch and placed in the center of the life ring.

Bancroft-003 Bancroft-004

The word “COMMANDER” in large gold bullion capital lettering is embroidered across the front of the hat with two stars on each end of the lettering on either side.  Perhaps a person similar to a Commodore wore this cap.  But WOW!


And most interesting is the quilted interior of the white hat cover!  Obviously also built to Bancroft Military specs.

Joe Harris-001This cap by Joe Harris Co. is a great original from the late 1960’s of 1970’s.  A real nice survivor of it’s kind.

Joe Harris-002

The silver stars indicate that it was worn by a “Past Commodore”.  If the they were gold stars then it indicates a “Current Commodore”.

Joe Harris-003

Interestingly, this is one of the few caps I have seen that had the rather elaborate chin strap similar to Lancaster Cap Co..  Most other caps had a rope with knots at each end.  This is a very nice cap…in my size too!

Joe Harris-004 Joe Harris-005

And with a look inside we know who sold it…and who owned it at one time.


This Kingform Uniform Co. hat is a big ‘un.  7 5/8!  Wow.


The gold stars indicate the rank of “Commodore”

Kingform-004 Kingform-003

And the seller is made clear.  The owner was supposed to have been a Michigan politician.  That may explain the over-sized 7 5/8 hat size.  Hmmmmm.


New-Old-Stock…in the plastic.


This cap by Commodore Co. is suitable for…well..a Commodore, as indicated by the stars.


Again this hat came new in the bag and has a nice enameled medallion.

Commodore-004 Commodore-005

Fresh as can be inside, and still had tissue paper to help maintain its shape.


I hate to admit that this cap was purchased for the outlandish fee of 33.00 from an antique mall in Springfield, Ohio recently.  I couldn’t believe I found it in such a land-locked area.  But what a nice cap.


Once again the stars indicate a “Past Commodore” ranking and the enameled burgee is from the Huron Yacht Club.

S.Appel#2-003 S.Appel#2-004

It is somewhat unusual to find a yacht club cap with a military styled chin strap though.  Also this is one of two S. Appel & Co. cap, the other being my earliest cap in the collection.

Worth & Worth-001Ballantine-004

Almost a dead-ringer for the hat in this ad, this cap was made by Worth & Worth of New York City.  Nice hat, but with some issues.

Worth & Worth-002 Worth & Worth-004

The insignia is very fine gold thread.  Kind of unique and unusual.  But the visor has not only discolored for some reason, but is cracked as well  Worth & Worth says they can fix it…since they are still in business, but not sure if I’m gonna do it.

Worth & Worth-005 Worth & Worth-003

An added bonus was that it came with the original hat box.  Other than the visor, it is immaculate.

As in the lyric to Gilligan’s Island…the next caps fall under the heading of “and the rest”

Navy-001 Navy-002

This is a great cap I cobbled together from an old navy officer cap and and insignia I bought in a lot on the big auction site.  Lots of character.  The hat is probably of WWII vintage.

Unknown-001 Unknown-002

This is a turd!  Vinyl cover, weird gold braid chin strap, wonky insignia for a “Store Keeper” or “Treasurer”.  Eh!  Just doesn’t do much for me.

Columbia#2-00 Columbia#1-001

A pair of turds!  From Columbia something of another via the auction site, resembling an officers cap of the White Star Line (See Titanic).  Not so much.  The cap is ENORMOUS in diameter.  It should look more like the S. Appel cap at the beginning of this diatribe.  The workmanship ain’t bad though, but the Ny-Glo “scrambled eggs” on the visor with the nice rich, deep gold bullion insignia is a let down.

Oh well!

Captain cheapo-002 Captain cheapo-001

Another turd bought from a company when I was spec-ing out caps following Lancaster Cap Companies demise.

Back to good stuff!

Next up is Midway Cap Co. of Chicago, Illinois.  Yup!  They are still around and making caps!  Nice caps that are affordable and very traditional.

Midway Cap Co #1-001 Captain & Tennile-002

N’yup!  Same hat as “the Captain”.  Nice cap.  very middle of the road for the casual wear at a boat show.

Basie-004 Midway Cap Co #2-001

N’yup again.  Same cap.  Mr. Basie did not like expensive caps, so this nice middle of the road cap by Midway Cap Company filled the bill.  Besides the Basie Orchestra usually played Chi-town often when touring!

Midway Cap Co #2-002

Only thing that drives me nuts about these caps…the blue ones…is the foam glued to the fabric.  I like my hats beat up…a virtual impossibility with this fabric!  UGH!  Maybe if I wash it 100 times after parking it under my truck for a week!

Midway Cap Co #3-001 Midway Cap Co #3-002

Midway Cap also make this “breezy” little number.  More of a “kiddie hat” by my standard, but still built to their Midway standards.

Midway Cap Co #3-004

Mine is of a different vintage as it has a Kant-Krack visor which almost certainly will crack at some point.  Should have been called…Will – Krack!


This little number is very similar to a Midway Cap, but has no name on it.  There are slight differences in construction, but it still could have been a contract fulfilled by Midway.  Again…very Basie-esque.

Marilyn Monroe - 001 Marilyn Monroe - 002 Marilyn Monroe - 003 thurston howell-003

Which one of these four photos doesn’t match?


But this cap looks great on anyone…

Oshman's-003 Oshman's-004

Again…strikingly similar to a Midway Cap Co. hat, but with variations like the cardboard stiffener in front at the peak.

Now on to the yachting cap of the stars!  Lancaster Cap Company!  WONDERFUL CAPS!  Nice fit, light weight, comfortable, stylish, and very traditional of a by-gone era.

Lancaster #1-002

This is my oldest example of a Lancaster Cap.  I estimate it to be from the mid-1960’s owing to the style of the insignia.  She is in rough shape tough and needs repair, but it probably isn’t worth doing.

Lancaster #1-001Her insignia is very large by comparison to later Lancaster caps.

Lancaster #1-003 Lancaster #1-004 Lancaster #1-005

Unfortunately her headband dry-rotted and split and she has many moth holes.  Sad.

thurston howell-002

This hat is from the same time frame me thinks!

Lancaster #2-001 Lancaster #2-003

This is another cap from Lancaster.  Estimate this as late 60’s into the 1970’s.  The insignia is of the larger style but lacks the inside rope in the life ring as featured on the previous version.

Lancaster #2-004 Lancaster #2-005

Sold by Captain’s Locker, this cap has the same fabric that seems to attract fabric eating insects!

Lancaster #2-002

But I still wear it holes or not.  It has a great jaunty look and very classic.

Lancaster #3-001

Again, an even later version of the same cap from most likely the 1980’s or later, this hat is in great shape.

Lancaster #3-002 Lancaster #3-003

Notice the stains from adhesive where stars for a Commodores rank were applied.  Sold by Quartermaster in Long Beach, CA, where I bought my first Lancaster cap.

Lancaster #6-001 Lancaster #6-002

This Lancaster Cap hat was ordered by me in 1996 or so.  It was a work-a-day hat for a time.

Lancaster #6-004

The visor on this hat came deformed.  I was sorta ticked at first, then realize it added character.

Lancaster #4-001 Lancaster #4-002

Again…ordered around the mid-1990’s with no insignia, I put this Royal Navy crest on in its place.  I hate it.  May have to change it out.  Also I ordered it with the gold bullion…not these damned nylon “scrambled eggs” on the visor.

Lancaster #7-001

One of my personal favorites.  Ordered sans-insignia, I found this crest for it instead.  Ordered with the gold deluxe bullion Admiral’s visor…she has a lot of years, personal history, miles, and wear on her…and still feels great when I put her on.  But she is now semi-retired.

Lancaster #7-002

For some reason this cap gets a lot of reaction…positive reactions.  I’ve had FBI men on airline flights inquire…which made me nervous.  An Airline Pilot tried to buy it…or trade it for his cap…and people at the fast food drive thru window compliment it.

Lancaster #7-004 Lancaster #7-003

But she is tired.

And the classic…

Lancaster #5-001 Lancaster #5-002

Another old friend…tired and used, but serviceable.  This is the third one I’ve owned since I keep losing them.

In the 1950’s, change was afoot.  Ball caps were around the corner.  Styles changed too.

Flat-topper#1 - 001 Flat-topper#1 - 003

The “Flat-topper was based on a WWII Navy cap and used by “sporty” boaters and yachtsmen.  This specimen has a felt patch and bullion insignia sewn to it with a great enamel yacht club medallion.

Flat-topper#2 - 001 Flat-topper#2 - 002

This cap is in good shape and maybe was used by outboard operators…such as myself…since there is a pocket in the front for extra shear pins!

Flat-topper#3 - 001

Just another variation on the theme…

Han-Kraft Flyweight Flat-topper-001 Han-Kraft Flyweight Flat-topper-002 Han-Kraft Flyweight Flat-topper-003

And the nicest Flat-topper I own is this one from Han-Kraft.  New-Old-Stock.

Captains Ball cap

Finally, this is what we have degraded into.  A ball cap.

Let’s face it…mediocrity is what our nation is about now.  Everything run through a meat grinder and spit out to look the same.  Well…I resist it.  My grade school teachers and parents told me to be an individual.  So I wear my “silly captain’s hat” while running my old outboard motors and my antique wooden boat…and think of a time when America built and manufactured things with pride and quality.

I refuse to wear ball caps because they are accepted as “normal”.  Hell…nothing looks dumber to me than some kid wearing his flat bill-ed sport team ball cap off to the side and trying to be a Gangsta.  Damn!  Why not just follow all the other lemmings off the cliff.

No sir!  Give me a nice chapeau any day!

It’s like I said to my wife.  If a group my friends walked into the funeral home upon my demise and saw a casket…they’d never know if they were at the right place.  BUT…if they walked in and saw a “Skipper’s Cap” and a trombone on the table…or pulpit…they’d know they were right where they should be.  No question!

So long!



18 Responses to “Take me on a Sea Cruise…:A Passion for Fashionable Headgear.”

  1. 1 Cobourg Kid
    December 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Hey Greg we missed your stories, it’s great to see you back at the ol keyboard again and not surprisingly you hit a home run right out of f the gate !

    Thanks to you I now have a new appreciation for Captains Hats , who would have thunk ( hmmm is that a word?) that Captains chapeaus came in so many styles and levels of quality. … makes me want to ditch my baseball cap… well maybe not , but I have to admit that your collection is very- very cool, in fact I cant recall seeing anything like it before , not even at the Smithsonian.

    BTW I have an inkling that the “Barney’s Atlantic Uniform Co” Cap’s Burgee signified that its original owner belonged to the “New Bedford Power Boat Club” which is often mentioned in 1920s Motorboating Magazine event listings.

    Kind Regards and seasons Greetings -Cobourg Kid

  2. 3 David
    January 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Hi, captain jones. I have ran across this website a few times now and looks like you do the best work. I am trying to find someone that can rebuild/restore my 57′ johnson 35hp RDE19M. I wasn’t sure how to to reach you so hopefully you see the post.

  3. 5 Sean
    March 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    I came across this article while trying to find an actual quality captains hat and I wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge and collection with the reader. Do you have any good recommendations for places to buy a quality hat and any tips on breaking one in? I just got a Midway Cap Co. Aristocrat and I was a little put off by its stiffness and uniform-esque appearance and would love to break it in quite a bit and have it look a lot more rakish.

    Thanks for your time.


    • 6 conductorjonz
      March 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Well I did not like the look of the Aristocrat. Didn’t suit my style…so I got the other type caps from Midway. However…the blue cap has foam laminated to the inside…which I hate. But it is a winter type cap, so that must be why. I would have called Merle and ordered it without the foam had I known. She is accommodating to customer needs. And these hats are made to order really.

      As to having a more rakish look. Well…wear it often. Get it wet often. Sweat a lot in it. Get it wet in the sink or shower and then park the car on it! (Yes I’ve done this!)

      I have one hat by Lancaster…the one in the article with the most scrambled eggs on its visor…that gets comments constantly. Drive thru at the fast food joint, walking Ito the grocery, and twice on the same flight to Florida by a pilot who tried to buy/trade it from me!! But it looks worn…and has been…so it is semi-retired now. Lot of history in that one!

      At any rate, they don’t get to looking worn…unless you wear it. So go mow the lawn in a rainstorm on a really hot day. It’ll help it age.

      Good luck!


      • 7 Sean
        March 23, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        Thanks so much for the quick response. I actually have the blue Cruiser by Midway and I agree, that foam backing drives me nuts and will make it very tough to break in.

        I might try to get rid of it via eBay and have them make one up without the backing.

        You mention finding some of your hats online, do you have any recommended sites?

        Also, I was on Baron Hats site and I see that they’re coming out with a captains hat patterned after Alan Hale’s, but no word on timing or price.

        Thanks again.

  4. June 25, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Is there anywhere you can buy a real captains hat like Alan hale wore? Willing to pay a fair price.

    • 9 conductorjonz
      June 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      The hat Alan Hale wore on Gilligans Island was made by Lancaster Cap Company. They went out of business a few years back. My understanding is the owner…who is the grandson of the company…wants way too much money to make it feasible to buy the company and continue the tradition.

      It’s a shame as they are great caps…and very comfortable. I have several, but only one in the “midnight blue” which is actually black. Lol!

      The only thing close is a call to Merle at Midway Cap and see if they can make one of theirs to order in the black. After all…Alan Hale wore their caps toward the end of his life. They aren’t as high end as a Lancaster Cap, but nice and much less expensive.

      Good luck!

  5. January 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm


    I know this article isn’t current but I wanted to tell you I purchased Lancaster Uniform Caps from Earnie in 2014. I’ve spent several years learning the craft, going through Lancasters machinery, tools and patterns and now have wondered if there’s interest in top quality yachting caps? To date I have been focusing on WWII caps and the Marlin Brando “Wildones” cap. Im not interested in making cheap knock-offs, but if there is a real interest in bringing them back I can start the process. I am estimating a real direct embroidery bullion cap like the ones in this article will be about $250 each. Please check out my Facebook page to see current production. Peace https://www.facebook.com/americanpatrolcompany/

  6. 11 Raymond Meldrum
    January 26, 2016 at 7:58 pm


    I know this article isn’t current but I wanted to tell you I purchased Lancaster Uniform Caps from Earnie in 2014. I’ve spent several years learning the craft, going through Lancasters machinery, tools and patterns and now have wondered if there’s interest in top quality yachting caps? To date I have been focusing on WWII caps and the Marlin Brando “Wildones” cap. Im not interested in making cheap knock-offs, but if there is a real interest in bringing them back I can start the process. I am estimating a real direct embroidery bullion cap like the ones in this article will be about $250 each. Please check out my Facebook page to see current production. Peace https://www.facebook.com/americanpatrolcompany/

    • 12 conductorjonz
      January 26, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      I know I’d gladly pay that. I think I talked they previous owner down to 125.00 last time I bought one. My first was 75.00. Lol.

      What you need to do is hire me to market them. I’m nuts about the Lancaster caps as there isn’t another cap as comfy by my standard. They are my mainstay headgear.

      I had always wanted to buy the company if I had the resources. I’d simply make those hats…and go to boat shows. Simple. I’ve seen what people who own boats spend on their hobby.

  7. 13 Alan Soellner
    August 14, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Howdy Captain Jones, Now I am bit by the bug of wanting a good quality, comfortable, durable yachting cap in black. Looks like the last reply was in 2016 so this may not still be up. But, like all the other guys that have asked you, I guess the Midway company is the one to use with modifications in black with no foam liner? Any advice. Thanks Alan

    • 14 conductorjonz
      August 16, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Midway is still around and sells for under 100.00 last I checked. But don’t get the foam lined fabric. Too damned hot!

      Lancaster made the Holy Grail of hats. IE: Alan Hale Jr. (The Skipper), Mr. Howell, Elvis, Daryl Dragon (The Captain & Tennile)

      But have a number of other favs. Most are out of business.

      there is aa guy who spaced out caps from Midway that he sells on eBay for 250.00. nice hats…and well made. They aren’t Lancaster though.

      I’m up to 70 or so now and want to redo that post.

  8. 15 Alan Soellner
    August 15, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Can never get a response. Is this site still accepting replies? Contact me (678) 423-7351 ~ Alan

  9. 17 Alan Soellner
    August 17, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Captain, while looking for a black yacht cap I cane across an antique “Point of Pines” burgee hat pin. I would like to send you a photo or post it here but do not see any way to attach, Think your viewers might like to see it. Alan

  10. 18 Alan Soellner
    August 17, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Captain, this is Alan again. Just found a size 7 1/4 early Bancroft Zepher in white. Very nice condition. Once again I would like to show you and the followers of your site the photos but don’t see how. If you can e-mail me at or call (678) 423–7351. I would sure like to trade it to someone for a black yacht cap in 7 1/4.

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