Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ultra Basque Berets

By popular demand, really: the Ultra Basques. 
Once pretty much the only Basque berets available in the US, the Czech (previously Czechoslovak) made Ultra Basques.
The Ultra Basque is a traditional beret with a long history, originally made by FEZCO (which was later taken over by TONAK) - one of the oldest hat manufacturers in the world still in operation today.
Un-lined, basic berets in a one-size-fit-all that are extremely comfortable to wear and at a very competitive price (from $27.00). Available in two diameters: 10.5" / 265mm (in black and grey) and 11.5" / 290mm (in black, navy,and heather varieties). 100% wool, except for the 10.5" in grey (70/30% wool/viscose).
The berets in heather wool are available in Charcoal, Brown and Camel; the heather giving the felted wool a slightly marbled effect.
Available at:

Beighau Berets

It is not that long ago that the South of France (and more specifically the area around Oloron Sainte Marie) counted many small beret manufacturers. These days, there are only two left: Blancq-Olibet and Laulhere. 
Until 1993, there was a third: Beighau.
110 years before, Zechariah Beighau set up business as a wine merchant in Oloron St Marie, and in 1928 his son Xavier started the manufacturing of berets under the family name Beighau. The business expanded rapidly.
In 1945, son Maurice joins his father in the company (he took over the business in 1980). This is still the time that many Frenchmen (and many others) saw the beret as a standard part of their clothing and berets were manufactured in great numbers. In 1977 Beighau produces 450.000 berets (65% export!) and employs 40 people. 
The general decline in wearing hats and strong competition from Asian countries made Maurice, and his son Pierre  decide to end the business in 1996. Most machinery went to Laulhere (including the ownership of the labels). 
One wing of the factory, built in 1932

Another part of the old Beighau beret factory

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spanish Maquis

The Spanish Maquis were Spanish guerrillas exiled in France after the Spanish Civil War who continued to fight against the Franco regime until the early 1960s, carrying out sabotage, robberies (to help fund guerrilla activity), occupations of the Spanish Embassy in France and assassinations of Francoists, as well as contributing to the fight against Nazi Germany and the Vichy regime in France during World War II.

Referring to the contribution of the Spanish Maquis to the French resistance movement, Martha Gellhorn wrote in The Undefeated (1945):
"During the German occupation of France, the Spanish Maquis engineered more than four hundred railway sabotages, destroyed fifty-eight locomotives, dynamited thirty-five railway bridges, cut one hundred and fifty telephone lines, attacked twenty factories, destroying some factories totally, and sabotaged fifteen coal mines. They took several thousand German prisoners and - most miraculous considering their arms - they captured three tanks. In the south-west part of France where no Allied armies have ever fought, they liberated more than seventeen towns."
Also during World War II, Spaniards assassinated the German generals von Schaumberg (commandant of the region around Paris) and von Ritter (a recruiter of forced labor). In October 1944 a group of 6,000 maquis including Antonio Téllez Solà invaded Spain via the Aran Valley but were driven back after ten days. Few details of the maquis' actions in Spain have been made public because of the secrecy of the Franco government, but fighters, including Francisco Sabaté Llopart were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) officers, and uncountable acts of industrial sabotage. Between 1943 and 1952, 2,166 maquis were reported arrested by the Civil Guard, nearly wiping out the movement.
A mural in Sallent, Barcelona, Spain commemorating the actions of the maquis.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Franco's Justice

Three photographs of bereted victims of "Franco's Justice". Of course, 'Franco' and 'Justice' don't combine very well. The 'Justice' here could be adequately described as 'revenge', humiliation, torture, murder and, in the cases of these photographs: slave labour. 
Paul Preston's 'The Spanish Holocaust' is one of the more detailed works on the subject and the paper 'Forced Labour in Franco's Spain: Workforce Supply, Profits and Productivity' can be downloaded here.
The pictures (top and bottom) depict "Red" prisoners performing forced labour on the Canary Islands, the centre photo the Canal BDST Prisoners near Sevilla.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Four Gauchos

Over the years, dozens of gaucho pictures have been posted on The Beret Project; usually very "manly" men, full of machismo, but not all are like that.
I like these photographs here, a bit different from the usual gaucho glorification.
But, all with beret, or boina, naturally. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Non-Motorized Bikes

And after yesterday's post, let me share these three great shots of non-motorized bikes.
All beautiful shots without further details, but plenty material to let your imagination go wild. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Motorbikes, again

A few years back, I posted The Bike Series on The Beret Project, and still, I find some of the nicest photographs of the combination motorbike and beret - it's a good marriage. What headgear, after all, is so easy to roll up to fit in your pocket (while wearing the compulsory helmet)?
I can't recall where I found this (bottom) picture, but I like it. The top picture was accompanied by this text: A la brasserie Deberdt à Nieppe.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dutch Beret?

I found this great photograph on the web site of Phlog ("the Phlog is an image chronicle
produced with material submitted by photographers who permit themselves to keep an eye on particular things of their own interest, and phenomenal occurrences and sightings, sometimes accompanied with a brief commentary").

No commentary with this photo, but my guess is it's taken in Amsterdam or Utrecht (Netherlands) with a strong suspicion the beret in question being worn by a tourist.
Thanks, Hans

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mommie Schwarz

Samuel Leser "Mommie" Schwarz (28 July 1876 - 19 November 1942) was a Dutch Jewish painter and graphic artist. He also worked as a designer of book covers.
In 1920 he married Else Berg. Together they became an artistic couple and were part of the Bergen School of painters. Schwarz and Berg were both killed at Auschwitz in 1942.
Haven (Port)
Schwarz was influenced by such painters as Leo Gestel and Charley Toorop. The works of the Bergen School are characterized by Cubist figuration and expressionist influences in dark shades, which also applies to much of Schwarz’s work.
Schwarz is especially known for his harbor scenes, landscapes, portraits and still lifes.
He also worked as an illustrator and designed book covers and posters, including illustrations for the Dutch art magazine Wendingen.
Painting like Else Berg and Mommie Schwarz, in the Jewish Museum, Amsterdam

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Make his 50th birthday; buy a beret!

No, this is not Daan posting at The Beret Project, but his wife Megan. It's Daan's 50th today, celebrated together at the beach at Worser Bay, Wellington (see photo). He wears a "plato grande", I believe...
Come on, make his day: buy a beret!

Szlatki András - Hungarian Barber

These photographs are by Attila Kleb, his 1992 series of barber Szlatki András, in the old Jewish district of Gozsdu in Budapest. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Greek Beret

An old tobacco farmer, whose son was killed by guerrillas  makes an anti-Slav speech during the Greek Civil War of 1945-1947. Location Rodopolis, Macedonia, Greece.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fred Hill - Motorbike Activist

Article from WalesOnLine:
"He died in prison while protesting for his right not to wear a motorcycle helmet. Now 40 years after it became compulsory to wear a helmet while heading out on two wheels, bikers are taking part in a road trip to pay tribute to a man whose name is a symbol of “exceptional sacrifice in the name of bikers’ freedoms”.
Fred was a retired maths teacher who had served in World War Two as an army dispatch rider. When it became illegal to ride without an approved helmet in 1973 he decided this was a part of the freedom he had fought for and which he was not going to give up.When fined for wearing a beret to ride, he refused to pay and tore up hundreds of subsequent fines.He also served 31 prison sentences and died in Pentonville aged 74, halfway through a 60-day sentence for contempt of court.
Some of the prison sentences were very short, as little as 24 hours on one occasion, when he was held in an unlocked police station cell and told by the desk sergeant to “bugger off when no-one’s looking”. During one prison stay he wrote: “What is a man deprived of his name, his freedom of movement taken away, his every privacy invaded, every move spied upon, locked away in a filthy cell for 23 hours out of the 24 hours - and half of these miserable hours spent in darkness?”
Fred’s face was a familiar sight at Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) demonstrations all over Wales where he would give speeches dressed in an arrow patterned prison suit. Members of the South Wales MAG, of which Fred was a well-known member, will ride in convoy from Cardiff, through Bridgend, Swansea, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion today before arriving in Llandovery where a wreath will be laid at the statue of Prince Llewellyn ap Gruffydd, another iconic figure who fought for freedom.
South Wales MAG member Philip Neale said: “Many people will recall the extraordinary example set by Fred in defying the compulsory helmet law throughout the nineteen seventies and eighties. “Nowhere in the world has anyone made such exceptional sacrifices in the name of bikers’ freedoms. “Motorcycling is about freedom. Fred understood that. We must never forget Fred’s example lest we forget why we ride motorcycles.
“Though in every other way a law-abiding citizen, Fred would encourage the crowds he addressed to follow his example, as the law would have to be repealed if enough people simply ignored it. “Once in the dock of a magistrates court where a lady magistrate berated his lawlessness, Fred took the opportunity to remind her that if it hadn’t been for members of her sex breaking the law some years ago, she wouldn’t be sitting where she was.”
Demonstrations of support by MAG members were frequently staged outside prisons in which Fred was held and a commemoration of his efforts is made annually at the gates of Pentonville on the anniversary of his death.
He was 74 when he died from a heart attack suffered whilst in custody in Pentonville in 1984.
During his final incarceration the prison governor had warned that the harsh prison environment could be the death of him, to which Fred replied: “It doesn’t matter where a man dies but how.”
Philip said: “Whether the helmet issue is important to you or not, we all owe it, not only to Fred but to ourselves, to sustain a ceaseless call for the reform of this outrageous legislation for, as Fred wrote, ‘What is a man deprived of his freedom?’”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Boinas Super Lujo in Navy - Back in Stock!

The boinas Super Lujo  in navy, both in 290mm and 325mm diameter, are well stocked again!
Available here


The name Michelin is more than just the manufacturer of tyres for French cars; the 2nd tyre manufacturer in the world (Michelin owns BF Goodrich, Kleber and Uniroyal, among others), Michelin is also known for it's travel guides, maps and the stars that are so much appreciated by restaurants. 
Ad for Michelin Australia, 1922
Many are the innovations in tires that Michelin came up with: in 1946 the radial tyre (then known as the "X" tyre), and in 1934, Michelin introduced a tyre, which if punctured, would run on a special foam lining, now known as a run-flat tyre (self-supporting type).
Michelin representative delivers the goods with his Vespa scooter combination. 1953
Michelin's wealth came from Indo-Chine (Vietnam), where the population was pretty much used as slave-labourers (at the rubber plantations). The Vietnamese had a reason to fight their oppressors and for communism....
Westminster Bridge, 1954
Anyway, one would think that such an icon like Michelin would have some associations with that other French icon, the beret. But despite many searches, all I could find were these pictures; nice ones, but from England!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


New Zealanders are not really known for their love of berets. I have a few customers here, mainly in Wellington and Otago, often writers and artists, generally rugby fans (there is a strong link between berets and rugby that I still have not been able to unravel), but altogether, not your average Kiwi bloke. "We're an odd lot, us beret wearers", I quote one of my customers.
But when you do see them, they're not the average beret either, I learned while visiting the beautiful town of Oamaru during my last holidays.
In one of the many art and antique stores, I found this large collection of crafty (re-crafted) berets. Not completely my style, but good to see them anyway.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fomes Fomentarius

Not quite a beret, but it comes close. This picture was sent to me by my good friend Bert, a cutting from a Dutch National Geographic Magazine. It triggered my interest and, looking for more information, found that these mushrooms (yes, that's what it is, a mushroom!) are quite commonly used in Eastern and Central Europe. 
I quote Wikipedia:

Fomes fomentarius (commonly known as the Tinder Fungus, Hoof Fungus, Tinder Conk, Tinder Polypore or Ice Man Fungus) is a species of fungal plant pathogen found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The species produces very large polypore fruit bodies which are shaped like a horse's hoof and vary in colour from a silvery grey to almost black, though they are normally brown. It grows on the side of various species of tree, which it infects through broken bark, causing rot. The species typically continues to live on trees long after they have died, changing from a parasite to a decomposer.
Though inedible, F. fomentarius has traditionally seen use as the main ingredient of amadou, a material used primarily as tinder, but also used to make clothing and other items. The 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman carried four pieces of F. fomentarius, concluded to be for use as tinder. It also has medicinal and other uses. The species is both a pest and useful in timber production.
Have a look here, at a most interesting web site.