Mad Hatter Day is every October 6th.  Why, you may ask.  In Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter’s hat (illustrated by John Tenniel) has a slip on it that reads “In this style 10/6.”  This means the hat cost 10 shillings and sixpence.  In 1986, some seriously bored computer people in Boulder, Colorado celebrated a day of silliness.  The Mad Hatter character is known for being silly, but did you know that he probably just had mercury poisoning?

from ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by John Tenniel. Macmillan and Co, London, 1898.

Mad Hatter Disease/Syndrome is chronic mercury poisoning among hatmakers whose work involved prolonged exposure to mercury vapors.  The neurotoxic effects included tremor, pathological shyness, and irritability.

Right you are Alice!

Right you are Alice!

 Manufacturing felt hats began in 17th century France and spread to England by the end of the century.  Mercuric

Danbury hatmakers

Danbury hatmakers

nitrate was used to treat the fur of small animals for hats.  By the Victorian era, hatters’ condition had become proverbial and popular expressions arose like “mad as a hatter,” “hatters’ shakes,” and “Danbury shakes.”  In America, this terrible practice continued until 1941 when mercury poisoning in the hatmaking industries of Danbury, Connecticut was exposed.

 

Yes, this holiday has dark roots.  But now it’s fun!  So those computer people I spoke of, well they announced their day of silliness on computer networks and Mad Hatter Day became more popular.  In 1988, it was first recognized as a “holiday.”  

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Baby's hats...contaminated with high levels of mercury...I'm sure that worked out well for those babies later in life.

At Kards Unlimited, we have tons of silly stuff so you can celebrate being silly (and that oh so silly mercury poisoning) in style.  We have Mad Hatter hats, jewelry, even passports to Wonderland.  And for the purest, we have The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland with original illustrations by John Tenniel.  

We sell this!

We sell this!

I know this is posted a bit later than 10/6, but honestly, you can be silly any day of the year!!!

So, what do you think?