I received my first Stormy Kromer from my in-laws for Christmas this year. What’s a Kromer? It’s a stocky wool cap that’s been made since 1903 by a small clothing company in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I grew up.
The cap was invented by George “Stormy” Kromer, a semi-pro baseball player and railroad engineer searching for a “head furnace” sturdy enough to survive tough, U.P. winters. You can read more about the lore and history of Stormy and his seamstress wife, Ida, on the official Stormy Kromer website.
The Kromer is absolutely the best hat I’ve ever owned. I look forward to going for a walk just for the novelty of pulling down the wool ear flaps – my little way of rebelling against the bitter wind. It’s also a living antique and a reminder of the beautiful Upper Peninsula.
The week after Christmas I started working on the 2013 edition of the Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide and what did I find but another Kromer, this one an original!
Artist William Harnden Foster’s oil on canvas “From Traps to Trout” depicts a woodsman spying a leaping trout as he sets a fresh trap. It was likely painted for the cover of National Sportsman or Hunting & Fishing magazine (or maybe even an L.L. Bean catalog cover) around 1923. In fact, Foster was a prolific illustrator for magazines, posters and other commercial works. He is perhaps best known for his iconic painting of the Twentieth Century Limited, an iconic Art Deco image of the iron giant locomotive.
His painting of the hunter sold Jan. 1-2, 2012 for $3,700 by Bobby Langston Antiques, Inc. against a $2,000 to $3,000 pre-auction estimate. This may be the most valuable Kromer ever sold .. so far.