In the quaint and wonderful business of making hats, an historic event took place last week. The John B. Stetson Co., largest hat dispenser in the world, bought out the Mallory Hat Co., one of the runners-up in the trade and the oldest hatter in the U.S.

The absorption of Mallory, which has been controlled by one family during its 129 years, marked the end of an old and famed company. But Mallory's quiet history, mostly in the cities of the U.S., is as nothing compared to Stetson's colorful story.

It began in 1863 when the first John Batterson Stetson, the sickly...

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