Was reading an interesting article about "Killer Fashion" in the paper today, and learned something new about the "Mad Hatter" character...
...hatmakers were forced to rely on cheaper furs such as rabbit. But in order to turn these alternative materials into the desirable hats, hatters had to brush them with a mercury solution which led to mercury poisoning.
"Symptoms of mercury poisoning included pallor, anemia, disorientation and trembling," says Matthews David -- the exact symptoms that Johnny Depp displays as the crazy Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's current box office hit Alice in Wonderland. Matthews David says that Alice author Lewis Carroll grew up in one of England's busy hat making centres in the 19th century. It's likely he saw the "mad hatters" that led him to create the fictional character in his now famous book.