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How much water can a 10-gallon hat hold?
A 10-gallon hat holds approximately three-quarters of a gallon of water.
According to History.com, most experts argue that the name “10-gallon hat” is actually an import from south of the border. Cattle drivers and ranchers in Texas and the Southwest often crossed paths with Mexican vaqueros who sported braided hatbands—called “galóns” in Spanish—on their sombreros. A “10 galón” sombrero was a hat with a large enough crown that it could hold 10 hatbands, but American cowboys may have anglicized the word to “gallon” and started referring to their own sombrero-inspired headgear as “10-gallon hats.”
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TEN GALLON HAT
A ten gallon hat is often thought to be large enough to hold ten gallons of water. This is not true (unless you have an exceptionally large head). The gallon in “ten gallon hat” derives from the Spanish galón meaning braid. So a ten-gallon hat is a hat with a braiding around the brim.
A ten-gallon hat actually only holds 3/4 gallon or 3 quarts.
I’ve heard that 10 gallon hats are named so because they can hold 10 gallons of liquid, but they don’t look nearly big enough?
To be sure, we’ve never seen a hat nearly big enough to hold 10 gallons of liquid. The term “galon” actually refers to a certain kind of braided hat band that was popular among Mexican vaqueros around the late 1800s and early 1900s. The “10 galon hat” would indicate a hat with a tall enough crown to display 10 of these braided ribbons which were used as decorations or badges.
The similarity of the spanish “galon” and the english “gallon” is easy to see, and this may have been picked up on in early Stetson Hats advertising campaigns which featured cowboys using their hats as water bowls for their horses to drink from. Since then, “ten gallon hat” has become the common term for the hats of stars such as Tom Mix and any hat with a very tall (7+ inch) crown.
The popular image of a cowboy would not be complete without the wide-brimmed “10-gallon hat,” yet even the most hardened cattlemen can’t agree on how the iconic headgear first got its name. The conventional explanation is that “10-gallon” refers to how much liquid could be carried inside the hat. In fact, a famous ad for the Stetson company once even depicted a cowpoke giving his weary horse a drink from the crown of his hat. While it’s certainly in keeping with the romantic conception of life in the Old West, this image is probably as much of a myth as gunfights at high noon. Not only is the name “10-gallon hat” an obvious exaggeration—even the most comically large cowboy hats could only hold a few quarts of water—carrying liquid in the crown of any hat would most likely damage it beyond repair.
Most experts argue that the name “10-gallon hat” is actually an import from south of the border. Cattle drivers and ranchers in Texas and the Southwest often crossed paths with Mexican vaqueros who sported braided hatbands—called “galóns” in Spanish—on their sombreros. A “10 galón” sombrero was a hat with a large enough crown that it could hold 10 hatbands, but American cowboys may have anglicized the word to “gallon” and started referring to their own sombrero-inspired headgear as “10-gallon hats.” Yet another linguistic theory argues that the name is a corruption of the Spanish phrase “tan galán” —roughly translated as “very gallant” or “really handsome”—which may have been used to describe the majestic image of a hat-wearing cowboy in the saddle.
Why Do We Call It a 10-Gallon Hat?
The 10-gallon hat is a large broad-brimmed hat, with a high rounded crown, traditionally worn by cowboys. It is best known as the defining piece of clothing for the North American cowboy.
Many people are not certain about the origins of the expression “10-gallon hat“ but many think that the term grew from 1925. According to the historians, there are multiple theories about the origins and concept of the 10-gallon hat. The most conventional explanation is that “10-gallon” refers to how much liquid could be carried inside the hat and is often thought to be large enough to hold ten gallons of water, but the hats do not hold anywhere near 10 gallons and never have. It is said that this is one big linguistic mix-up. The gallon in “ten-gallon hat” came from the Spanish “galón“ meaning “braid“, so a ten-gallon hat is a hat with a braiding around the brim and did not refer to the holding capacity of the hat.
Many supposed word origins remain popular because of the tales attached to them. One interesting possible origin is the idea that a “ten- gallon hat“ is for the upper classes, different from the lowly sombrero, which was for the lower classes. The phrase “tan galan“ in Spanish is expressed as “so gallant“ in English which means that upper-class cowboys were considered to be more gallant than common cowboys.
The hat manufacturer, John Batterson Stetson, who owns one of the largest hat firms in the world ( John B. Stetson Company, founded in 1865) is considered as the inventor of the cowboy hat. Stetson created a universal symbol of the West. His hats have been worn by peers, patriots, presidents, professionals, military personnel and ordinary people. There are thousands of Western brands, but none of which are equivalent to Stetson. Wherever and whenever hats are discussed, Stetson will be mentioned.
The ten-gallon hat stands as a symbol of both good and bad in the movies and on television: black hats often for bad guys and white hats often for good guys. Some famous western figures wore ten-gallon hats in movies, television, and in real life: Larry Hagman as JR Ewing in Dallas; Dan Blocker as Hoss Cartwright in Bonanza; John Wayne in many of his famous classic westerns; Clayton Moore as “The Lone Ranger”; Tom Mix; United States President Lyndon B Johnson; Country Western music star Tim McGraw; actor Sam Elliott; and several actors in the television mini-series “Lonesome Dove” such as Tommy Lee Jones, Robert DuVall, and Anjelica Huston.
Western hats are considered as stylish today as they were when they were invented. The Stetson Hat Company and many others are continually developing new variations on the style of this product and exploring different materials such as straw and leather.