Late 19th/Early 20th c. Millinery Hat Stretcher c.1890-1920



An original wooden hat stretcher dating from the late 19th/ early 20th Century. It is made in two halves, with an adjustable metal screw to either push apart or pull together the two halves. It sits on a thick wooden base with a sizing chart in inches under the movable section of the stretcher. Works well.

  • CREATOR Unknown.
  • DATE OF MANUFACTURE c.1890-1920.
  • CONDITION Good. Wear consistent with age and use.
  • DIMENSIONS H 13 in. W 8 in. D 13.5 in.


In millinery, 'blocking' is the process of shaping material onto a mold to form the body of the hat. Hat blocks are the molds used in this process. They are usually carved from wood, but you can also find aluminum and poly blocks.

Hat blocks have been used in men's hat-making for over 200 years.Early hat blocks were made from wood turned on a lathe, making them perfectly round, which was fine if the hat was to be placed over a wig. However, this changed in the early 1800s when wigs began to fall out of fashion. Hats now needed to fit to the true shape of their wearers' heads, so block-makers began carving their hat blocks by hand in a more oval shape.This opened up new possibilities for the shaping of hats. Soon there were many different styles in use, which changed and developed over the years.Hat blocks can be made from a single wood block or from several separate pieces which can be assembled in various ways to achieve different effects. These are sometimes known as 'puzzle blocks'.


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