John B Stetson and Traceability

John B Stetson - Pioneer in Traceability John Batterson Stetson is well known as being a pioneer of the American hat industry.

The business he founded in 1865 was still operating in Philadelphia until the 1970’s. Indeed, the name Stetson is still found on modern day hats, although the Stetson company hasn’t made hats since the plant closure.

As a proud owner (and wearer) of many of Mr. Stetson’s fine hats, I’m always interested to learn more about the history of his company and the other hat manufacturing companies.

I know what you are saying : “What the heck does this have to do with Labeling News?”

Believe it or not, there is a great connection. While browsing my favorite fedora enthusiast site I came across a link to an article on John B Stetson at the Sun New York newspaper preserved by The Library of Congress.

The article is from May 1891  and goes into some detail on the company and the manufacturing process for felt hats (sorry about the little bunny rabbits!).

John B Stetson Traceability What caught my eye was the part of the story that J B Stetson Company had a traceability system in place and was able to track a batch of fur from the beginning of the felting process all the way to the final hat retail store.

Stetson Whippet

One of my Stetson hats – made in the 1940’s

Pretty amazing that Stetson had implemented this back in 1891, yet so many industries have still not gotten to do it in 2012! It makes me wonder just what Mr Stetson and his company would have done with the technology available today? I’m sure he would have been one of the first to implement barcode tracking and all his systems would have been wireless just as everyone else was thinking about using batch data collection devices. RFID? I’m sure JBS would have been on the bleeding edge.

So, Mr. Stetson – thanks for all the hats and for being a traceability pioneer!

You can read the New York Sun article here!


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