From Our Collection: What is it?

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

In our collection, are objects that once may have been commonplace, but today are something of a curiosity.

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The hat stretcher, pictured above, was donated to the museum several years ago and is from a time when men’s hats were of much more importance. Prior to the 1960s, hats were worn by all men, at times providing important clues about the social status of the individual man.

Interior of the Newton Carriage Worls, 128 E. 6th, Newton, 1887.

Interior of the Newton Carriage Worls, 128 E. 6th, Newton, 1887.

During the 1880s, researchers have estimated that the average American man bought a hat every year or two.

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Advertisement, 1908

A good fit was important.

The hat stretcher in our collection is wooden with metal posts between the two pieces. ┬áThe number “03” over a “4” is the only thing stamped on the piece.

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The stretcher was used to shape and enlarge hats to fit better.

Image of a modern hat stretcher in a hat.

Image of a modern hat stretcher in a hat.

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Sources:

  • http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/117987.html