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Hat auction raises record sum of £750
TWO hours of frenzied titfer tat bidding saw a record total made at this year’s hat auction.
As a preview to the now annual Bridport Hat Festival, the auction was held at the Bridport and West Dorset Club and raised £750, significantly up on previous years.
Eager bidders were egged on by seasoned auctioneer Jim Rowe of Symonds & Sampson.
More than 100 hats had been handed in following a ‘hat amnesty’ at the West Street shop of festival founder Roger Snook.
With the donated hats sorted and numbered, as many as would fit were laid in order on one of the club’s snooker tables, only for chaos to ensue in a mass trying-on before the auction began.
Order restored, Jim Rowe opened the bidding on hats that ranged from panamas to pillboxes, tweed caps to turbans, vintage and wedding confections, a jesters topper and two alleged samurai hoods.
Among the more intriguing items were a travel-stained pith helmet and a sweet 60s straw number bearing the nametag Audrey Hepburn.
But the largest hats of the night also drew the biggest money – two genuine ten-gallon hats, one of which was snapped up by the auctioneer himself, and an Australian Akubra, said to be the favourite hat of Mr Snook, which went for the highest bid of the night at £68.
Yet more money was raised with this year’s Hat Festival bag on sale post-auction, and the evening’s total should climb still higher as remaining donated hats are for sale at the festival itself.
HatFest will have its own stand alongside other exhibitors at the youth centre in Gundry Lane, one of two venues, the other being the arts centre, which will host dozens of hat traders.
A hat-themed quiz and raffle at the Ropemakers on Tuesday, swelled the coffers even further.
HatFest 2013’s chosen charities of Brain Tumour Research and BIRT, the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust, have already had an excellent start to the final total they’ll receive in donations once the festival is over.
Bridport Hat Festival opens on the evening of Friday, September 6 with a concert by festival patron Hank Wangford at the arts centre, while Saturday, September 7 sees a whole day of hat-centred celebrations taking over the town. Full details at bridporthatfest.org.
l See the full programme in next week’s Bridport News.