1894 - 1919
The Perfection Hat Conformator Co.
Cincinnati, Ohio & Chicago, Illinois
The general design for this hat conformator was first patented on October 16, 1894 (patent no.527,472) by inventors Sigmund Mayer of Cincinnati, Ohio and Samuel H. Altland of Indianapolis, Indian. They received an additional patent for the device on November 28, 1899 (patent no.638,023).
It is unclear when and where the two men first began production of their invention. The earliest evidence I was able to find of a Perfection Hat Conformator was within an 1899 advertisement for Cohn & Losos, a clothier in Little Rock, Arkansas. However, in a 1905 Cincinnati business directory, hometown of one of the inventors, The Perfection Hat Conformator Company was listed on 29 Pearl Street. A later ad dating to 1908 in The Clothier & Furnisher, an industry periodical, also places the company on Pearl Street.
Patent records suggest that sometime between 1908 and 1912 The Perfection Hat Conformator Company was sold to Mr. Herbert M. Darmstadter of Chicago, Illinois. Darmstadter then moved the entire enterprise to his hometown. He was also issued a 3rd and final patent for the devise on July 2, 1912 (patent no.1,030,978). I should note that Darmstadter was issued another related patent in 1914 (patent no.1,102,729) for a formillion meant to be used in conjunction with the Perfection model.
Just like all other hat conformators, the Perfection model was used by hatters to obtain an accurate size and shape of a customer's head in order to produce a custom fitted hat.
The price for one Perfection model in 1908 was $30 if paid-for immediately or $35 with an optional payment plan. It's a very handsome, very durable devise with a 12" diameter and and an 8" tall stature. It was constructed of cast steal and beautifully finished with nickel plating. Functionally, it is a fairly simple spring-loaded apparatus. It is unclear just how many were produced but they were serial numbered. The one on this page here is no.637.
The Perfection Hat Conformator Company was in business at least through 1919, which was when it was still advertising in various newspaper classifieds, such as The Chicago Tribune, in search of traveling salesmen. The ads also indicated that the company had diversified its product line to include a "straw hat conforming machine and complete line of hatters' tools."