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Deutsches Technikmuseum - December

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month December 2015

Photo: In the foreground the wooden hat block with folds and decorative bobble, in the background the finished red hat.

Hat block and the finished woman’s hat. © SDTB / Photo: C. Kirchner

Hat block for a woman’s hat, 1950s

Up until the 1950s people rarely left the house without a hat or head covering. Worn by men and women alike, hats were an indispensable part of a "complete" outfit.

A hat not only provided protection from wind and weather but was also a fashionable accessory, a status symbol or an expression of political views.

The importance of hats is reflected in many positively and negatively intended sayings like "I take my hat off to you" or "at the drop of a hat" or "keep something under one’s hat", "to produce out of a hat" and on the other hand "I´ll eat my hat", "to talk through one´s hat" or a "bad hat".

Black and white photo: Portrait of a smartly dressed lady with feather boa, proudly wearing a large plumed hat.

Woman with hat, Berlin around 1910 © Private

Married women covered their hair in public because hair was considered particularly seductive.

Feminists in 19th century New York made a point of not wearing their hats or bonnets in public as a way of demonstrating their emancipation.

A man’s lush hair, on the other hand, was a symbol of power and masculinity.

The occupation of milliner or "modiste"

The occupation of milliner or hatter, which today is often called "modiste", was in past centuries already being practiced by mainly women, who were also authorized to train apprentices.

Black and white photo: The felt blank is shaped by stretching it over the hat block.

The milliner shapes a felt blank. © Hutfabrik Schröder

Then, as now, the production of a hat involves heating a felt blank with steam, pulling it over a mould and blocking (stretching and pulling) it until it achieves the desired shape.

The hat is subsequently decorated with feathers, ribbons or synthetic flowers. When felt hats are industrially manufactured, the blanks are pressed into metal moulds and likewise processed with steam.  

Although hats went out of style in the 1960s, in recent years they have enjoyed a comeback. He who adorns himself with one underscores his individuality and attracts attention.

Have the pluck to wear a hat!