Hat, Top

Production date
A black, fur-covered top hat. The hat has a band around the base, and a turned up brim with a layer of striped material. The inside of the hat is lined with cream leather, and on the edge of the brim is a gold stamp with " Made in England " and a royal seal with the lettering " CHRISTYS / LONDON " at the top. On the inside top of the hat is a rearing lion motif within an oval, with the letters ' A ' and ' R ' on either side of the lion. Beneath this is the maker's mark " AUSTIN REED / Of Regent Street ' . The hat is stored in a dark brown hat box, with a yellow cardboard inner. The lid of the hat box has the remnants of a New Zealand Railways label, with " Top hat / only " in handwritten ink.
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This top hat belonged to Sydney George Smith, who was an MP for Taranaki, then New Plymouth, as well as Minister for Education. Sydney's father was Edward Metcalf Smith, also a member of Parliament in Taranaki. Sydney worked on the railways for 20 years. His first tenure as the MP for Taranaki was in 1918, and was minister for Labour and Minister for Mines under the United Government between 1920 and 1931, and Minister of Education from 1934 to 1935. He wore this top hat for formal events, when he was required to wear full ministerial garb. The hat may also have been been wore by his father, Edward Metcalf Smith.
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