Harold Cotton, Sr. hat blocking stand

Harold Cotton, Sr. hat blocking stand

Usage conditions apply
Hatters used hat block stands such as this one to hold and anchor hat blocks. Wooden pegs hold the stand together and also provide a way to secure a variety of blocks for different shaped hats. From the late-nineteenth century to to the mid-twentieth century, work attire required hats for men and women and most Americans had at one hat in their wardrobe. 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 in 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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
flange holder
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brown (overall color)
overall: 5 in x 12 in x 9 in; 12.7 cm x 30.48 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Michael J. Cotton and Harold C. Cotton II
African American
See more items in
Work and Industry: Work
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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