Several theories exist regarding how the name "Ten-Gallon Hat" came into existence. Most commonly known is the belief that the hat was large enough to hold 10 gallons of water (it has been proven since then that the hat can actually only hold about 3 quarts). Although the exact beginning of this term cannot be traced, it is more likely that the term came from the vaqueros of Mexico with whom American cowboys rode during early cattle ranching days.
It is theorized that the mispronunciation of the Spanish word 'galon' is how this all came to fruition. Galloon was a woven strand of metallic thread used to decorate the traditional Mexican sombrero. The amount of galloon or 'galon' on a sombrero indicated the quality of the hat. So, loosely translated in early American terms, a 'ten-gallon hat' was a hat of very high quality.
Several other hats were available for the working cowboy. In the mid-1860's, Mr. John B. Stetson of Philadelphia designed a wide-brimmed hat after a brief respite in Colorado. His first hat manufactured was known as "The Boss of the Plains". The Boss had a 4-inch wide brim and a 5-inch tall crown. From there the cowboy hat was modified based on demands of rodeo and working cowboys alike.
Buffalo Trader's own Denny Karchner, brilliantly captures the cowboy essence which cannot be completed without the proper hat. He's done so in his pieces, Alan Baker as Buffalo Bill, and Charles Bolin - Quickdraw Artist. These pieces exemplify how the proper hat 'tops off' a cowboy's image!