What difference did hangers make?

With ready-to-wear, people bought more clothes. Hangers on rods began to replace “old-fashioned” shelves and hooks in home closets.  

Ad from The Clothier and Furnisher, 1920

Ad from The Clothier and Furnisher, 1920

“Not only is less space required but there is less wrinkling and also provision for more apparel.”

— American Contractor, June 2, 1917

J.T. Batts Wishbone hanger, 1910

J.T. Batts Wishbone hanger, 1910

From the Museum's collection

U.S. Patent granted to J.T. Batts for retail display racks, 1911

U.S. Patent granted to J.T. Batts for retail display racks, 1911

“Men’s suits back then would take up three stacks [on shelves or tables]—one each for trousers, vests, and coats. He figured this was a lousy way to display garments for sale.”

— John H. Batts in a 1993 interview about his grandfather, John Thomas Batts, inventor of the Wishbone hanger and a pioneer in retail display

 

Ad from American Contractor, April 7, 1917

Ad from American Contractor, April 7, 1917

Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the A. May & Sons department store became one of the first retailers to use Batts' hangers in 1906. 

Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the A. May & Sons department store became one of the first retailers to use Batts' hangers in 1906. 

Courtesy of the American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital Encyclopedia (www.influenzaarchive.org)