Hang in There; Cool Vintage Hangers

Hang in There; Cool Vintage Hangers

When you buy a piece of clothing from QBO you’re always welcome to keep the hanger. We also sell extra-nice vintage hangers separately, like this adorable needlepoint one from our last Beehive sale.

You wouldn’t think the humble hanger could be historic, but occasionally they are. Some wooden hangers were custom-stamped for travel businesses such as famous hotels, rail or cruise lines. Meant to stay put, they snuck away in suitcases as vacation souvenirs.

Others were given away as advertising by stores, designers, or businesses that cared for clothing such as tailors, laundries, dry cleaners, and professional re-dyers. Prior to the advent of “Fast Fashion” in the 1980s, clothing was much more expensive, so people had smaller wardrobes and invested more in repairs, maintenance and alterations to keep those spendy clothes looking nice.

You can date vintage hangers approximately by the phone numbers – those odd word and number combos that aren’t recognizable as phone numbers today. Early phone calls were managed by operators (women only) who worked at a central switchboard connecting calls by plugging one end of a phone cable into one socket and the other end into another socket, connecting two phone line subscribers.

Callers just picked up the phone to get an operator on the line and then asked for the desired person or business by name, but as phone use burgeoned subscribers were assigned numbered lines within larger named ‘exchanges’, so a caller might have to ask for something like “Burlington 165”, 3 or 4 digit numbers still with no area code. This system persisted throughout the 1950s and well into the 60s in sparsely-populated rural areas.

Slim-padded hangers, which protect delicate garments and keep stretchy knit sweaters from deforming if left hanging for a long time, were first made commercially in the 1950s, although we do get the rare 1960s groovy versions, too, and of course a lot of contemporary over-stuffed ones.

Cut-in notches, textured plastic ‘grips’, knobby screws sunk into the shoulders of wooden hangers, or buttons sewn onto padded hangers are all designed to keep sleeveless dresses from sliding off. There are even baby-sized versions.  dresses and skirts have corresponding ribbon loops in their upper hems to help hang the garment.

We also have specialty hangers with clips for skirts or pants, and overengineered-looking wooden bar clamps that keep a gentleman’s slacks pressed by hanging them upside-down from their cuffs. And, how about some wacky ‘convenient folding travel hangers’, one even incorporates 2 handy clothing brushes!

There are also some wonderfully homemade ‘improved’ hangers. The finely crocheted string or yarn over a wooden base versions are 1950s – 70s vintage, while the looser yarn over thick plastic bases are anytime from the 1980s onward. And last but not least we have this phenomenal 1950s hanger, retro- fitted to hang delicate stockings up to dry.

Desiring that cool hanger you found on the racks but you don’t want the garment? We’d be happy to sell you the hanger alone, most of our unmarked items are just $1.00. And, if you are in need of some FREE hangers (of the ordinary kind) cruise by the last day of one of our house sales; when we end up with extra hangers we love to keep them out of the landfill by giving them away. Hang in there and we’ll see you soon!