Edward Willett, hat-maker and poet

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Joel Munsell's "Annals of Albany, Vol. 10" from 1859 includes items of interest from the newspapers of the years gone by, including this delightful bit of commercial doggerel attached to an item from Nov. 13, 1835:

The hat factory of Edward S. Willett, corner of Green and Basset streets, was burnt. He was the first to commence the manufacture of silk hats in this city. To show that Mr. Willett was not alone a man of fur merely, but also a poet, his advertisement is introduced. As a man of law he can speak for himself.

If e'er a man in earnest sought
To make a hat as workmen ought,
Substantial, and with beauty fraught,
            'Tis Willett.

And well may he take pains to please
When hosts of Fashion's devotees
Are daily swarming like bees,
            At Willett's.

Hundreds and hundreds who've surveyed
The hats in other stores displayed,
Have left them all and come to trade
            At Willett's.

Ask the genteel where'er you go,
Who made that elegant chapeau?
And ten to one he'll say, I trow,
            'Twas Willett.

Who showed those hats, so rich and rare,
That took the prize
twice at the fair,
Causing the craft to wince and stare?
            'Twas Willett.

The Eagle with the hat that won
The prize that dimm'd a certain
Sun,
Displays a taste that's touch'd by none
            But Willett.


The corner of Green and Bassett, an old, old part of the city, doesn't retain much of its 1835 look today.

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