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Clinton Beck Local Antiquities Expert and Vice President of the Wild Rose Antique Collectors Society uncovered a stolen treasure from National Museum.
Fifteen years ago Clinton Beck was sold a Top Hat that had an interesting story attached to it. Supposedly it belonged to Sir John A MacDonald. It was also supposedly taken from a museum.

“I hear many interesting stories about provenance on items as sellers believe that this will increase the value.” says Clinton Beck President of Beck Antiques & Jewellery Inc.” In most cases there is no proof other than rumors and hearsay.”

The top hat in question was purchased and inspected and appeared to be quite normal and of good quality Victorian heritage. It sat quietly on the top shelf of his Antique store for almost 10 years.

Recently Clinton heard a similar story about a Top Hat at a party when discussions of Sir John A MacDonald came up.

“I was stunned to hear a similar story and realized that the hat in question was sitting on the top shelf of my store.” says Beck, “I immediately took the hat down off the shelf to inspect it and had my senior Estate Appraiser John Horrigan go over the top hat.” As he was inspecting the hat and searching for a museum reference number he rolled back an inner band and found the missing museum reference number.

“We were both ecstatic that we potentially had found a missing Canadian treasure.” says Beck “We immediately started contacting museums in Ottawa and Quebeck to see if anyone recognized the number on the hat.”

“After several weeks of searching and hundreds of emails, we finally received the following email from Quebec.”

First I would like to thanks you for contacting us and recognizing the number, on the hat, as a potential museum number.

After doing some research in our archives we can confirm that the hat is part of the National Collection here at the Canadian Museum of History. The story you have, about this hat is accurate, except for the John A. MacDonald’s part has there is no reference, in our file, of the hat being related to him. Effectively the hat was stolen in 1975 from an exhibit at the Victoria Building here in Ottawa.

We are please it has been found after all these years and would be very happy to discuss the return of it to the museum and the reuniting it with its original hat box.

I look forward in hearing from you

Best regards

Patrice Rémillard

Superviseur, Gestion des Collections

Supervisor, Collections Management

Collections Management and Conservation

Canadian Museum of History

Tel: 819-776-8471 Fax: 819-776-8300

“It is a really special to find a Canadian Treasure