In nineteenth-century England the jocular expression “mad as a hatter” was used to describe individuals who were considered to be eccentric or mentally unstable. The expression came about because milliners were exposed to mercury through their felting work, often developing dementia and severe neurological disorders as a result. The dangers of mercury exposure were certainly known at this time. In America a noted New Jersey physician published an article cautioning against the booming hat industries of Newark, Orange and Bloomfield, but his advice went largely unheeded. It was not until the 20th Century that laws were put in place to protect the welfare of hatters.

Hatters was written for Sō Percussion in March 2015. The composition is concerned with collective effort, confusion, and decay.