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93/122/8D Hat stand, mens, wood, maker unknown, France, used by McDougall Bros, Australia, 1930-1945. Click to enlarge.

Men's hat stand used by McDougall Bros

This hat stand is part of a collection of hat blocks and millinery equipment owned and used by Sydney milliners, McDougall Bros. The McDougall Bros, twin brothers Matt and Jim McDougall, had a millinery studio in Sydney making hats for Sydney 'high society', including Winifred Hurt. Betty Viazim , a specialist milliner who began her apprenticeship to Mark Foys department store in 1922, recalls the McDougall Bros as having : 'a very nice little boutique in about Rowe Street, I think. I didn't …


Object No.


Object Statement

Hat stand, mens, wood, maker unknown, France, used by McDougall Bros, Australia, 1930-1945

Physical Description

Hat stand, mens, wood, maker unknown, France, used by McDougall Bros, Australia, 1930-1945

Solid hat stand in the shape of a head and neck made from soft pine wood. The front of the face has been carved showing a pair of eyebrows, nose and smile lines in minimalist form. The colour of the wood is dark brown. There is a thick circular base.


There is pitting to the surface of the top and sides of the head. On the front of the base is carved the number '23'. In the back of the neck is a gold tack with a flower engraved in the centre. There are also three plain tacks in the centre of the base, three small drilled holes and two larger ones.



300 mm


160 mm


210 mm




This hat stand was made in France around 1930-1945.
Hat blocks were introduced in the late 1920s. Blocks were used interchangeably, and could be assembled in a variety of ways to create different shapes and styles. The shape of blocks varied and developed throughout the years to reflect fashion and styles of the day, along with changes in technology. Hat blocks would first be covered with tissue paper to prevent dye from transferring onto the blocks and potentially staining future materials. Later, plastic bags or washable fabric 'hat socks' were used. Fabric, straw or felt would then be shaped onto the block, pushing along the grain of the material, and secured using string which was tied into a 'blocker's knot'. The material would then be steamed, and shaped into the desired style. In the 1940s aluminium blocks, or 'hot blocks' were introduced. These blocks were placed over an electric cone and heated in order to shape the hat.



This hat stand was made in France around 1930-1945.

The McDougall twin brothers, Matthew and James, were born in Ipswich, Queensland (28/12/1915). Their leisure interests were theatre and costume design and Scottish dancing. Matt was involved in the theatre and his partner was English actor, Max Oldaker . Jim joined the army from 1941-1946 and his partner was Wes Eaton.
In the late 1940s the brothers started their millinery business in the old Daily Telegraph Building, 147 King Street, Sydney. They soon gathered an elite Sydney clientele for their beautifully designed hats.
In 1957 they bought Carisbrook, an historic house in Lane Cove, which they renovated in great style. In 1966 they sold the greatly improved house to the council. Millinery was in slow decline after that and they closed the business. Matt died 16/9/1983 and Jim 14/10/1984, both sudden and unexpected deaths in the UK where they had gone to visit Scotland, the land of their ancestors.
Lindie Ward 15/1/2013
ref: Chris Carr, Carisbrook House newsletter


Credit Line

Gift of McDougall Bros, 1993

Acquisition Date

29 March 1993

Cite this Object


Men's hat stand used by McDougall Bros 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 July 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Men's hat stand used by McDougall Bros |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 July 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Technology & Innovation at the Museums Discovery Centre.