The origin of the hat is very old and its use and shape has changed throughout history. This accessory emerged as a necessary item for protection from the sun and rain. It soon became a highly valued item of social distinction. From its first depictions in Egyptian paintings until the modern day, the model of hat has marked differences in social status, both for men and women. In the mid-19th century, as sewing machines were invented, the manufacturing of hats transformed and this accessory started to be used a lot more.
The gas hat moulder, which is preserved in the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation Gas Museum collection, was manufactured by H. Maillard in Paris at the end of the 19th century. This item, a witness to the modernisation of the hat industry, enabled the manufacturing of different styles of accessory, which revolutionised the history of fashion and clothes. This particular invention, which still has its patent number embossed on the upper part, perfected the handmade craft of manufacturing hats. Firstly, thanks to a device called a conformateur, the master hatter measured the diameter of the customer’s head. Then, with the head measurements taken with the conformateur, the moulder used gas technology to shape the hat with a wooden mould, giving the felt the desired shape by using the heat from a flame in the base.Through the handles and levers on the upper part, the felt was adapted to the mould and the desired size of the customer. Finally, after the gas moulder process, the master hatter ironed the hat and added the final touch.