The Knox Hat Company was founded in 1838 by Charles Knox…
Knox Hatters expanded slowly at first from a modest shop at 110 Fulton Street to larger premises on Broadway, Nassau Street and eventually his corporate headquarters and shop on Fifth Avenue. The shop was described as “the most elegant establishment of its kind in the country“.
The Knox Hat Company prospered by selling beaver hats to antebellum New Yorkers. Charle’s son, Edward Knox, a Civil War Hero who fought at Gettysburg and was feted by Congress and the Grand Army of the Republic as “the most popular and handsomest officer of the encampment,” took things over upon his recovery from war wounds and turned the company around.
By the middle of the century, Knox Hats were sold all over America and manufactured in Knox’s Brooklyn factory – the largest hat factory in the world. This was the golden age of the top hat and Knox could name many famous Americans as his customers. 23 US Presidents wore Knox hats including Abraham Lincoln’s famous ‘Stovepipe’ hat. Lincoln famously kept important papers in his ‘Knox Stovepipe’.
Knox built their reputation on the quality of their hats and genius for promoting the business which spent huge sums in the newspapers. The financial accounts of 1928 show that Knox Hat Co., Inc operated 62 retail stores and distributed through 2,500 agencies across America. Net sales in 1928 were over $8 Million. The Knox brand lasted until the great depression when in 1932 the three largest Hatters; Cavanagh, Dunlap and Knox merged to become the Hat Corporation of America (known as Hat-Co).