Of all the comments I got on last weeks “style matching” piece, this is the one that feel deserves the most attention:

“Very nice article . I would have to say that I think caps are the easiest to style match and the hardest to year date. What do you think?”

A few years back, Joe Phillips sent me a 1947-1951 Reds cap. The dating was made possible based on style and manufacturer. As I began looking at it and focusing on photos, I noticed rather quickly that this style cap could be found with both a custom cut whish bone “C” and one that was done as non-form cut patch. I also took note of the number of seams in the bill. This is something I have known has changed over time. In the short time I spent looking at this gifted cap from Joe, I realized two things I “had always been told” about caps did not seem to hold much water:

1. The way to tell retail caps from gamers is that the retail caps were the ones with the crests and logos applied as a patch.

2. A professional quality cap had to have 8-10 seam stitch lines in the bill.

I have never devoted a great deal of time in looking at caps as I have never been asked to offer an opinion on one. This is not to say I have not studied them, but I tend to focus on those things that I have an actual requirement for. All of this has prompted me to look at other teams over the past couple of days and what I found was very interesting. Could it be that style matching caps is a bit more complex and maybe year dating is not impossible as the e-mail suggested? In order to do work along these lines, you really have to look at images in detail and in tandem focusing on the same area of the cap logo. When you find a difference, you then have to study it in detail. Please know I am NOT saying that the variations I have presented here are the only ones that exist by any stretch of the imagination. My intent here is to simply share some observations with the hopes others might begin to look at things in a bit different light.

The images provided of the New York Yankees NY crest from show these three differences in the crest:

1. Difference in the flair of the upper portion of the “Y”.

2. Difference in the length of the stem of the letter “Y”

3. Difference in the length and curve of the fist leg of the letter “N”.

You can continue to pick these images apart, but my point is well made that these crests are different.

For the Brooklyn Dodgers from the 1950s, there are at least three (3) different styles that can be seen by comparing the vertical base of the “B”. There is also at least a fourth (4th) when you consider there are some that can found not directly affixed (either sewn or embroidered). Are there other variations and points of reference? There very well might be, but once again my point is that variations do exist.

The Detroit Tigers could have probably been worth two plates of references. What I liked about the Tiger variations is that they were in fact the easiest to spot given the ornate complexity of the gothic “D”.

I found the 1949-50 Chicago White Sox interesting because these, like the Cincinnati Reds, featured cap logos done in form cut and non-form cut varieties. Another thing I found interesting is that the White Sox and Reds both wore uniforms made by MacGregor Goldsmith in the late 1940s and early 1950s. My Reds hat is a MacGregor-Goldsmith product so it might be possible that the form cut caps are one manufacturer’s characteristic and the non-form cut ones are another.

The variation on the Minnesota Twins cap is subtle, but it is non-the-less present in the form of the outer points of the arms of the letter “T”. Twins maybe, but they would have to be considered fraternal.

This one is for Dave Klug, although I suspect he already knew this, but I found at least four different styles for the Milwaukee Braves. These are both variations of the construction of the letter “M” as well as variations of the “M” being both applied directly to the cap and to a patch sewn to the cap. I thought the Mathews/Aaron picture interesting as it has to be from the same day as they are pictured together.

The images for the Baltimore Orioles highlight more of an evolution as well as style change. The cap worn by Milt Pappas is a style worn the O’s during his rookie season. After that they switched to a similar style, but with an orange bill. In 1965, his final season with the club before being traded to Cincinnati for Frank Robinson (don’t get me started on that trade) they returned to a solid black cap as being one of their styles. Two things are different:

1. The Oriole Crest.

2. The color of the button on the crown.

In looking at images like these, you also have to take into account the folds in the fabric of the Steve Barber cap as these seem to compress how the face of the bird appears.

The Philadelphia A’s caps seem to be much like those of the Detroit Tigers. The ornate font style for the “A” offers a number of points of reference that can vary and serve as points of comparison.

What all of this means to me is that style matching of caps needs to performed with attention to detail and with some degree of study. It also means that it may be possible to year date caps to a much more narrow band of time than is currently thought possible. Additionally, future work along these lines may also help with identifying a caps manufacturer by these types of characteristics. Just as soon as I say this, it also has to be considered that the same manufacturer may have changed production methods or suppliers as well over time. No magic answer here other than to say this is just another area that requires further analysis, contrary to “what we have always been told.”

In doing your own work to “style match” your caps, basic questions you should consider asking and looking for are:

1. Font style by construction in some detail.

2. Manner of appliqué of the logo/crest. (Sewn, Embroidered, or Applied as a Patch).

3. Location and number of vent holes.

4. Number of seams in the bill.

5. Color of crown button.

Surprisingly for some, if I was going to pick one team to focus on, it would not be the Reds. I would likely focus on either the Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1957) or the NY Yankees of the 1950s and 1960s. I say this because these would probably be of most interest to the hobby. Once again I offer that you should consider looking at things on your own and in ways you have not considered before. If you do, I think you will be able to enjoy what you collect and collect what you enjoy all the more.


For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.