Harold Cotton, Sr. rim for hat block


Wooden flange for a hat block that held the brim of a hat while it was being shaped. From the late-nineteenth century to to the mid-twentieth century, work attire required hats for men and women and most Americans had at least a couple of hats in their wardrobes. Daily wear meant hats got scuffed, dirty, and misshapen. Thrifty consumers did not throw away hats, but had them cleaned and reformed by hatters to extend the life of their purchases. As the fashion of wearing hats declined after the 1960s, hat blocking became a fast-receding craft.

Hatter and small businessman, Harold Cotton, Sr. used this block and others in this collection, in his shop in Greensboro, NC beginning in the mid-1950s. A black entrepreneur, Cotton used the income from his shop to move up the economic ladder and promote the welfare of the black community. Profits from the shop supported institutions within the black community, including St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, the local black Boy Scout troop, and the NAACP.

For other blocks used by Cotton, see 2012. 0201. 01, 2012. 0201. 04, 2012. 0201. 03 and 2012. 0201. 05.

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: African American


See more items in: Work and Industry: Work, Work, American Enterprise


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Michael J. Cotton and Harold C. Cotton II

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2012.0201.04Accession Number: 2012.0201Catalog Number: 2012.0201.04

Object Name: flange

Physical Description: wood (overall material)brown (overall color)Measurements: overall: 2 1/2 in x 12 in x 14 in; 6.35 cm x 30.48 cm x 35.56 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ad-a587-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1429638

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