No one really knows who made the first hanger and what it may have looked like. Some historians believe the first wooden coat hanger was invented by the third president of the new United States, Thomas Jefferson. He was certainly a prolific inventor having designed an improved wooden plow, a portable copying press, a revolving Windsor chair and many other ingenious items. So this claim does seem quite plausible.
What we do know is that throughout most of the 18th century clothing either hung on hooks or was laid flat for storage. It was not until around 1850 that people began using hangers to hang clothes in wardrobes. Victorian women's bustles and skirts needed careful storage and hanger inventors and manufacturers came to their aid with all kinds of adjustable components and spring systems to allow the skirts to retain their pleats and hold the waistbands.
Hanger improvement did not stop there and all kinds of new designs began to appear such as travel hangers which collapsed and folded and hangers with extra hooks for belts. Tailors and clothing merchants were quick to see that these specialty hangers could be used to advertise their businesses.
By the early 1900s the humble hanger had become indispensable and hundreds of patented designs were registered with the US patent office, some of which can be seen in the accompanying illustrations.
The simple wire coat hanger that we are all familiar with today had its origins in a clothes hook patented in 1869 by O. A. North of New Britain, Connecticut. However Albert J. Parkhouse, an employee of Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan is generally credited with the first real wire coat hanger patent. In 1903 in response to his fellow workers complaints of too few coat hooks he bent a piece of wire into two ovals with the ends twisted together to form a hook. Although Parkhouse patented his invention it is unlikely that he profited from it.
We cannot blame Parkhouse for the excess of dry cleaning wire hangers that accumulate in our closets because if he had not invented them someone else surely would have done! Although certainly it would not have been Joan Crawford whose complaint to her daughter Christina in the biographic film ‘Mommie Dearest’ clearly states her view “You live in the most beautiful house in Brentwood and you don't care if your clothes are stretched out from wire hangers”.
Here at Displayarama retail store display products, including Hangers & Accessories, are our business and we take store display very seriously. We talk extensively with our customers and learn from their experiences, we talk with our suppliers and we attend international conferences and exhibitions. We really do know the retail business and our objective is to give you the knowledge, advice and price you need to increase your sales and profitability. So why not call us now Toll Free on 800-292-5227 and see how you can benefit.
(Article by Jodie Deen, © Displayarama 2004)