In 1874 Benjamin Dunkerley arrived in Tasmania from England and decided to start a hat making business. His skills as a hatter were backed by his ability to invent machinery, and soon after his arrival he had developed a mechanical method of removing the hair tip from rabbit fur so the under-fur could be used in felt hat making. In the early 1900’s, Dunkerley moved the business to the inner suburbs of Sydney, setting up a small hat making factory. In 1904 Stephen Keir, who had also migrated from England, joined Dunkerley. Keir had hat making experience from England. In 1905 he married Ada Dunkerley, Benjamin’s daughter and soon after was made General Manager. In 1911, the business became Dunkerley Hat Mills Ltd and had a mere nineteen employees. The trade name “Akubra” came into use in 1912.
What’s the difference between the Akubra Balmoral and other hemp hats?
The hat has a finer weave than the Hemp Range hat, giving it more flexibility and a more refined look. The finished brim is 2¾ inches wide. The pinched crown has a teardrop crease at the top and is 4¼ inches at the front, rising to 4⅝ inches on the sides and finishing at 4 inches in the back. The Akubra hat band is made of bonded leather.
How does the Akubra Balmoral compare to other hat materials?
Hemp is not the only material used to make hats. Other hat making materials may include straw, cotton, polyester, nylon, acrylic and many others. Straw hats are often handmade by straw weavers. The fibres are plaited or woven into cone-shape hoods. Cotton is a fluffy, borderline completely cellulose fibre, spun into yarn to make textiles. Cotton is often blended with other natural or synthetic fibres, like linen, rayon, polyester, paper for the creation of different hats. Cotton hats are very comfortable to wear, breathable, hypoallergenic, washable, and packable.
Polyester fibres are manufactured from petroleum-based products. These fabrics are durable, resistant to stretching, shrinking, and wrinkling. These hats are washable and dry quickly. Polyester fibres are made into yarn, plaited and braided. These hats mimic the look of straw hats with the advantage, that they can be worn safely in water without damaging the hat. Nylon is lightweight, durable, wrinkle, fade, stretch, and shrink resistant synthetic fabric. Open construction nylon fabrics permit air circulation, so it feels cool on hot summer days. Hats made of nylon are easy to care for in that they are washable and quick to dry. Dirt doesn’t cling to its fibres; they can even be cleaned with a damp cloth. Acrylic is a lightweight, soft fashion material that can be altered to impersonate wool, cashmere, or cotton. It is often blended with other natural fibres. The material is colourfast and washable; however some may fuzz on the Akubra Balmoral.
What’s the hat made of?
The Akubra Balmoral is a tightly woven hemp braid hat with an inside leather sweat band and a unique banding of leather on the outside for a casual finish. This hat shape is modelled on the famous Akubra Cattleman which is ever popular. Spun hemp hardened with resin to always keep its shape and form. It is rated UPF 45+ meaning it can withstand harmful UV rays up to 45 times.