This (John Wayne's hat) was a great example of how we authenticate artifacts here at the museum
(PRWEB) December 13, 2013
A few months ago, Gettysburg Museum of History Curator Erik Dorr, decided to bring a hat that is part of the museum collection out to Las Vegas in an attempt to try to sell it to Rick Harrison from the television show “Pawn Stars.” But this is no ordinary hat as it once belonged to John Wayne and was worn in the iconic film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” As with any artifact that comes into the museum, the hat was subjected to a rigorous authenticating process. It is this meticulous effort that has helped the Gettysburg Museum of History to assemble and display one of the nation’s most prestigious collections of authentic historic artifacts.
Based on the processes in place at the Gettysburg Museum of History, Dorr thought there would be no problems with the transaction. To verify the artifact independently, Mr. Harrison brought in Ethan Wayne, the son of John Wayne. Mr. Wayne looked at the hat, and soon saw that the paperwork and photographic evidence was in order. Mr. Wayne then stated that he and his late father shared the same hat size and attempted to put the hat on his own head. After putting it on, Wayne, remarked that the hat was slightly too small. After this exchange, Mr. Harrison expressed enough reasonable doubt to hesitate from purchasing the hat.
“We started all over as if the hat just came in”, said Dorr and it was back to the authentication process for the curator. “We found as many photos as we could of Wayne wearing the hat as well as a high resolution copy of the film. We then conducted a full forensic photo analysis of the hat. Of the dozens of photos we found, we narrowed it down to 8 of the best and we analyzed the hat down to individual spots, stains, and the actual unique individual stitches on the hat. We went through the same steps for Rick [Harrison] to authenticate the hat that we did when we acquired it for the museum.” In the end the results were overwhelming that this was indeed the authentic hat worn by John Wayne in one of his most famous roles. While the forensic evidence proved the hat’s authenticity, one question remained: If Ethan Wayne and his father shared the same hat size, why did it not fit properly when he tried it on?
“As I said on Pawn Stars, everyone knows hats shrink, but I wanted to do a study and find out just how much do hats actually shrink over time” said Dorr. To answer this question Dorr took 40 hats from the museum’s collection and checked the size of the hat listed, and what the actual measurement is today. The hats ranged from ones manufactured in the 1860s all the way up to the 1970s. After completing this analysis it was found that a large majority, about 70%, shrank; with some as much as a full hat size. Generally the older the hat was the more it shrank over time. The John Wayne hat in question was worn in a film made approximately 50 years ago, and saw a reduction of one quarter size over that period from Wayne’s documented hat size. With even more evidence in hand, it can be stated with full certainty that the John Wayne hat at the Gettysburg Museum of History is without a doubt the one worn by Wayne in the film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”.
“If Rick Harrison wants to buy it based on our new analysis he is most welcome to do so” Dorr went on to say. It is now for sale on our website, http://www.gettysburgmuseumofhistory.com, many similar John Wayne hats have sold for over $100,000.00. The hat worn by Wayne in the film “The Green Berets” sold for $179,000.00. “I will continue to sell things to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas as featured on ‘Pawn Stars.’ I am a regular at that shop and we have made some great deals in the past” says Dorr.
At the Gettysburg Museum of History, one of the most common questions is related to the authentication of the items on display. “This was a great example of how we authenticate artifacts here at the museum” stated Dorr. “While the questions Ethan [Wayne] had about his father’s hat caused some hesitation on the part of the buyer, in the end it gave the public a great look into how we do what we do every day when we add items to our collection” Dorr went on to say. As for the hat, it is currently on display at The Gettysburg Museum of History located at 219 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.