For more than twenty years, I have searched for the very finest Montecristi hats.
I have searched more as a collector and connoisseur than as a business person. I sell the very finest hats reluctantly, like an art collector parting with a Picasso, a symphony violinist selling a Stradivarius.
There are no sales.
No matter how many words I might write, no matter how many photos you might look at, I cannot possibly communicate to you what these hats are like to see, to feel, to wear. Unless you have already seen one, there is nothing in your experience with which to compare it. How can I describe a color you’ve never seen?
I can tell you one weighs less than an ounce, is thinner than some paper, but that does not tell you what it is to hold one. Or to wear one.
Even other dealers in Montecristi hats have never seen the very finest examples of the art today. Some have gone so far as to state publicly that such hats do not exist, that they are a myth.
Did you read The Da Vinci Code or see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? To find the Holy Grail one must be Worthy.
It took me fifteen years to find the very, very finest. I literally risked my life in the quest.
Was it worth it?
As a businessman, not so much.
As a pilgrim in search of the Holy Grail of Montecristi hats, I am ecstatic. I have found the finest. They exceed my highest hopes.
If an unblocked Simón Espinal hat suddenly appeared in your hands, you would ask: What is this? I would answer that it is a straw hat, and you would ask: No, really, what is this?
The finest are finer than you can imagine.
Photos top two © 2005 Roff Smith