by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator
In our collection, are objects that once may have been commonplace, but today are something of a curiosity.
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.
During the 1880s, researchers have estimated that the average American man bought a hat every year or two.
A good fit was important.
The hat stretcher in our collection is wooden with metal posts between the two pieces. The number “03” over a “4” is the only thing stamped on the piece.
The stretcher was used to shape and enlarge hats to fit better.