As one of the more memorable examples of cowboy hats designed by Stetson, the 10-gallon hat was never large enough to actually hold 10 gallons of liquid. Although it was larger than other types of hats dating from the mid-19th century, a 10-gallon hat cab hold only 3 quarts (2.8 liters) of water. In fact, the name of the hat had nothing to do with a unit of measurement.
More facts about the 10-gallon hat:
- The name of the hat is based on the Spanish term tan galan, which means “so gallant.” This means that the popular name for the hat never had anything to do with its capacity to hold liquid, although the larger crown did make it practical for scooping water from a river or trough for washing or drinking.
- There is evidence that the Stetson 10-gallon hat was actually created by Christy's Hats in Frampton Cotterell, Bristol, England. Stetson and Christy’s went to court over the issue, with Christy’s ultimately winning. This led to Stetson paying a licensing fee to keep marketing the hats.
- The 10-gallon hat was a staple of western costumes during the silent movie era, with popular entertainers such as western star Tom Mix spurring sales of the hats across the United States.