This is a truly rare item of historical significance.
A Qing Dynasty Official Hat of the Third Grade, with wooden box preserved in original condition. It is definitely not easy for such a set to be passed down 120 - 350 years.
The nine ranks of royal officials in the Qing Empire were distinguished by the top of the hat, being different materials and colors. A third-grade official is equivalent to a vice-provincial governor or a vice-Minister - which is considered quite senior. Third Grade hats are supposed be crowned by blue sapphire. although blue glass was also accepted - to show modesty and non-corruption. Although I have not sent this hat for test, from the appearance, I suspect that this hat is topped by blue glass instead of blue sapphire.
Once someone passes the multi-level imperial exams and excel in all of them, he is usually awarded a seventh-grade post (equivalent to a county administrator). And then, one has to be recognized for excellency before being promoted. Only several dozens of people in the whole empire could ever reach the Third Grade. Officials of the Third Grade, if working in Beijing, would have met with the Emperor regularly.
Hat measures 12'' in diameter and stands 9'' in height. Box measures 14'' in diameter and 14.5'' in height.