When the King or Captain General is being saluted, each Officer is to time his salute so as to pull off his hat when the person he salutes is almost opposite him.
This is plainly a guide for officers, but the formal doffing of the hat to a superior is the style of military salute adopted in our English Civil re-enactment. One question encountered in the Sealed Knot is which way up the hat should be held when saluting doffed: held with the inside turned downwards or with the inside turned uppermost?
From the following evidence it is clear that any hat doffed out of respect or in greeting (whether by soldier or civilian) should be held with the inside in plain view - a symbol of openness and honesty, and proof that there is nothing untoward concealed within.
Most of the above pictures depict members of the seventeenth century upper society: gentlemen saluting gentlewomen or other gentlemen. The following woodcut is interesting, as it clearly show two hatless men in the presence of their social superiors. Would the social divide have required a more humble mode of greeting, and a different way of holding the hat?
Occasionally there can be found pictorial evidence of a hat held with the inside concealed:
In conclusion, it is clear that the oft-voiced opinion in The Sealed Knot, that the inside of a Civil War soldier's hat should be turned down when saluting so that the inspecting officer cannot see the hat’s dirty inside, would appear to be unsubstantiated by primary historical evidence.
Incidentally, the doffing of the hat in salute ended in the British army in 1745, with the following published order:
The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass.
(U.S. Quartermaster Corps museum website)
English Broadside Ballad Archive, University of California, Santa Barbara [website] [available: http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/] [accessed 18/06/2016]'Origin of the Hand Salute', US Army Quartermaster Center and School [website] [available: http://www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/history/vignettes/respect1.html] [accessed 18/06/2016]
Rosen, J. Soldiers at Leisure: The Guardroom Scene in Dutch Genre Painting of the Golden Age. Amsetrdam: University Press (2011)
Mason, J. 'The Pictorial Press: Its Origin and Progress', Hellenica World [website] [available: http://www.hellenicaworld.com/History/MasonJackson/en/ThePictorialPress.html] [accessed 18/06/2016]
'What is the difference in the traditions of the outward palm and the palm down salute?' Quora [website] [available: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-in-the-traditions-of-the-outward-palm-and-the-palm-down-salute] [accessed 18/06/2016]