A Mystery of Presidential Proportions

Did a U.S. President really wear this hat?

When you see the initials WGH, think of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States. 

At Past & Present Home Gallery, you will always find unique and one-of-a-kind items.  Take, for example, this elegant hat made by a Washington D.C. hat maker. Written in pencil inside this black beaver top hat, one finds the same initials that are also on the outside of the well-worn hat box that carries it: “WGH.”  We present these to you along with a book published in 1923 and titled The Illustrious Life and Work of Warren G. Harding. 

A black beaver top hat
The Illustrious Life and Work of Warren G. Harding and hat box with the initials WGH

Born in rural Ohio, Harding lived there all of his life except when political service took him elsewhere.  He owned a newspaper, before entering public service. First in the Ohio Senate, later as Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor, and then as a U.S. Senator prior to  his election to President in 1921.


In June 1923 Harding set out on an extensive journey which he dubbed the “Voyage of Understanding”.  The tour schedule was exhausting for him, and in late July, it was determined that he had pneumonia along with other health issues and was confined to bed rest in his hotel in San Francisco.  On the evening of August 2, 1923 his wife was reading aloud a flattering article about him from The Saturday Evening Post.  When she paused to fluff his pillows, he said, “That’s good.  Go on – read some more.”  As she proceeded, he collapsed back in bed; doctors were unable to revive him.  The president was dead at the age of 57.  At the time of his death, Warren G. Harding was one of the most popular U.S. Presidents.

A Unique Compilation


Among Past & Present Home Gallery’s many matchless collectibles, this grouping stands out – not only for the history, but for the mystery! We know from the Harding Home State Memorial in Marion, Ohio, that this is not President Harding’s  inaugural top hat; they are in possession of that one, given directly to them by Mrs. Harding in 1924.  Based on the positions he held and his travel and engagements, it cannot be ruled out that this top hat could have been worn by him on other occasions. 

Did a U.S. president really wear this?  We don’t know, but we think it’s likely.  Stop in to Past & Present Home Gallery, the antique store with character, and decide for yourself!