In many collecting hobbies, the term “grail” is used commonly to describe a rare or sought after piece. Cap collecting is no different: there are many caps that collectors seek and hunt for. These grail caps attract the attention of many a seasoned collector and can add prestige to one’s collection. Whether it’s a rare commemorative release, a highly sought after movie cap or simply a vintage classic, any collector worth their salt will keep their eye peeled for a grail to add to their collection.
What if you happen upon a grail that’s seen better days?
Such was the case for this grail cap. Friend to the cause and fellow Gaslamp Ball member Tony Losoya spied this cap on eBay and I had to take this case. What makes this cap a grail? We’ll talk about that after the operation, if it’s successful...
According to the eBay description, this cap had endured a ride in the washing machine and dryer. As you can tell, washing a cap (especially an all-wool example) can lead to a rather dejected and wrinkled piece of headwear. What’s a Hat Guy to do? Let’s look at the symptoms.
The most obvious problem here is a deflated buckram. Whenever a cap is washed without any support behind the buckram as shown here, the front will lose shape and make the cap look like it qualifies for an AARP membership.
Here’s a proper example as compared to our cap in need. The dryer method really affected the size of the wrinkled cap on the right: it shrunk a 7 1⁄2 cap to a smaller size than the 7 3/8 example on the left. I owe some gratitude to Tony for finding these. I’ve been searching for this cap for more than a fair amount of time and he found both in about a day. Dude has skills.
We have the technology. We can rebuild.
Pictured here are a few nifty devices at my disposal to help get this cap back into fighting shape. The items displayed are a Hat Jack and a New Era Re-Cap System.
The Hat Jack is a great tool for stretching a cap’s size. Having a Hat Jack opens up the possibilities for collecting caps that may not be in your exact size. This nifty tool has helped stretch 7 1/2 and even 7 3/8 caps to fit my 7 5/8 head.
The New Era Re-Cap system is used to clean and restore caps into proper shape by virtue of an inflatable bladder and a shaping spray one applies to the interior buckram of a cap.
I first applied heat to the interior of the cap with a hair dryer to loosen up the buckram and prepare it for reshaping. After applying a healthy dose of Shape spray, I set the cap on the bladder form and inflated the cap up to full shape. The cap is then left to dry.
After the cap dried, I applied more Shape spray to the interior buckram to reinforce the shape and set the cap back on the form for another round of drying. I applied more heat to the entirety of the cap with the blow dryer to loosen up the wool while the buckram dried.
While the Re-Cap bladder is good for stretching the interior of a cap, the Hat Jack is better suited for pure size stretching. I let the cap sit overnight on the Hat Jack for maximum sizing. You can also apply heat to the interior sweatband to increase the effectiveness of your resizing. Take care, however: if your cap has glued patches, you run the risk of heating the patch right off your cap.
The brim of the cap had also been worked and bent outta shape. There’s no kitschy tool for fixing this...
Find the heaviest books you can and put ‘em on the brim. I happened to have some wordy literature from a past life in computer sciences that fit the bill...so to speak.
Now that’s a grail!
What makes this a grail cap again, anyway? Well, it’s all in a patch:
This cap is a 1998 San Diego Padres World Series side patch cap with the proper on-field patch. It turns out all the Padres World Series caps you’ve seen have a patch that wasn’t worn on the field. For some reason or another, MLB decided that the Padres and Yankees needed to have a different patch design on their caps other than the actual World Series logo. That alternate logo is what you see here.
Don’t believe me? Check out Kevin Brown’s cap.
Though you can’t make out the patch details in this YouTube screenshot, you can see the shape is more circular than the diamond shape of the standard 1998 World Series logo.
The MLB Batterman is flat-stitched. Raised Batterman logos started appearing around 2005-06.
The under is in the classic 90s-mid 2000s colorway of a gray underbrim and white sweatband. Note the vintage Authentic logo and old 59Fifty taping.
I’m happy to add this grail cap to my collection! Value in caps is totally subjective and intrinsic, so this cap is worth a fair amount to me!
Let’s move on to modification...as you may have caught in my Twitter feed, I spent the better part of the Padres PCL night trying my damnedest to obtain an all-black PCL Padres cap to add to my collection. Simply put, there were none to be found. I had to get a little creative in order to have one of my own in the meantime.
I decided to snag a blank black New Era cap as a placeholder until my grail hunt brings me to an actual 2011 PCL Padres Turn Back The Clock cap. What did I modify in order to make this cap correct to the on-field version, you may ask?
I destitched the New Era flag off my example. At the PCL game played on September 7th, Tony and I noted that the Padres caps that night were devoid of any logos. I wanted to make mine as close to the ones the Padres donned that night, and that required the removal of the New Era flag.
This modification required the use of a stitch ripper as you see here. Utilizing this little tool, I made my blank cap appear closer to the on-field version. All it takes is a little time, patience, and a steady hand.
Thanks for checking out this special version of The Friar’s Hat Stash! I hope you got a little entertainment out of reading about an obscure cap’s restoration and a cheat method to own a cap devoid of any embellishment. Let me know if I can help answer your cap-related queries!
Until next time!