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Hat stand
  • Hat stand
    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904
  • Enlarge image

Hat stand

  • Place of origin:

    Shropshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    Coalbrookdale Company (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast iron, painted

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1

Object Type
A hatstand is an item of hall furniture with a number of pegs or arms attached to the upper half from which hats and coats can be hung. The lower half often had a rail and a removable tray at the base for storing umbrellas and walking sticks. Cast-iron furniture became popular in the 19th century. After the introduction of coke for smelting in iron manufacture in the mid-18th century, cast iron became cheaper and more widely available. It was also of sufficiently high quality to be used widely in architecture and decorative ironwork.

Design & Designing
The designer Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) distinguished between the different types of design suitable for wrought and cast iron. He regarded sinuous plant forms, some of which were influenced by Medieval, Byzantine and Middle Eastern sources, as appropriate for cast iron, which, when molten, can be poured into a mould. Such features on this hatstand include the acanthus scrolls at the base, which contrast with the more rigorous and geometrical patterns in the spandrels (curved arched supports).

In Britain the cast iron industry began to flourish from the 1770s onwards. Abraham Darby III (1750-1791) of the Coalbrookdale Company in Ironbridge, Shropshire, constructed the first cast-iron bridge in the world in 1779 to span the local river, the Severn. The family foundry became an established producer of a wide range of gates, grates and stoves and later furniture. By the 19th century the Coalbrookdale Company, which manufactured this hatstand, came to dominate the market, exporting its products all over the world.

Place of Origin

Shropshire (made)


ca. 1880 (made)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
Coalbrookdale Company (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Cast iron, painted

Marks and inscriptions

Stamped in the drip pan: a rgistered design mark, the numerals 214963 and the name, COALBROOKDALE

Stamped on the back of the upper section of the stand: COALBROOKDALE


Height: 190 cm, Width: 65 cm base, Depth: 22.3 cm base

Object history note

Designed by Christopher Dresser (born in Glasgow, 1834, died in Mulhouse, France, 1904); manufactured by the Coalbrookdale Company, Shropshire

Brunel Exhibition RF.2006/18

Descriptive line

Cast iron with a painted finish, Coalbrookdale, ca.1880, designed by Christopher Dresser.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Simon Metcalf and Eric Turner "The conservation of a ca.1867 cast iron hat stand: a Dresser design and original Coalbrookdale paint scheme revealed." in The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present, Journal 26, London 2002, pp.26-39. ill. ISSN. 02609568

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Dresser distinguished between the different types of ornament appropriate to wrought and cast iron. These complex stylised plant forms and geometric patterns could only have been produced in cast iron. Hatstands like this could be bought from the Coalbrookdale catalogue in a variety of colours, such as this 'Antiqued Bronze'. [27/03/2003]


Metalwork; Furniture; Interiors; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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