Hello fellow milliners.

Would any of you know what type of crown& brim block this is? I bought it in an antique shop in the U.S. It is definitely for a  mans hat, very boardwalk empire style. The brim has a wooden stand attached to it(underneath) The crown fits nicely into the brim and sits on two pieces of metal that are  coming out of the wood inside the brim on each side. I think it may be like this so the the crown and brim can be blocked together, but I'm not sure. Has anyone seen these before or blocked anything like this. Thanks 


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Although this came together it does not mean it has to be a set.  Each piece can be used separately.  Yes, it does look like a man's hat but many of the women's hats in the 1960's  and 1970's had shapes like this.  So I would just enjoy being creative and using both blocks for whatever your imagination can come up with.  These are pretty standard block shapes separately and together. :) 

Hi Sharon

Thanks for your reply. Have you ever used an insertion block such as this before? In the book " from the neck up" it references these type of blocks as being insertion blocks whereby you block the crown and brim all in one piece. You block  then crown separately then insert the crown upside down into the brim block.  The material is then blocked over the brim block without it being cut apart from the crown. The one I have  has two metal pieces inside and I'm not quite sure the purpose of them. I have used the crown and brim separately as that was the main purpose for the purchase, but i would love to make my husband a hat in this shape using it how it was originally intended to be used. This is the first time I have seen this type of insertion block. Anyone got any idea what the metal pieces inside are there for or ever used one similar to this? thanks 

Hello Nono

Yes, I have used an insertion block before as I have several.  I started as a Hatter (and still make men's hats) and then became a milliner.  Your flange (brim) seems to have a flange stand already built into it which is a nice feature but I would look to see if it can be separated to give you additional use with other brim styles. Your flange is actually for what is considered an uncurled brim but if you want it curled after blocking you can do it by hand. 

As for the metal pieces I am not sure.  Where are they?  Are they at the bottom?  If so they may simply be braces to give more structure during the blocking procedure.  Mine have wooden braces.  If they are on the inside they might be the releases for releasing the brim flange from the flange stand.  A picture might be helpful.

Hope I have been of some help.


Thanks Sharon. I have added a picture of the metal piece sticking out of the flange on the top part of it. There is one on either side. Thanks for your expertise on this. I think i would get a lot more use if it was separated. I don't think it would be easy to separate at all. All the best Nono

This is quite interesting.  The top and bottom  flanges can usually be separated and there are metal pegs that hold them together but the metal pieces in your picture are not those pegs. 

I have over 400 blocks which I got when I bought out my mentors' business when they retired.  I learned very quickly that each milliner/hatter has their own way of doing things which include how they use blocks.  Sometimes they alter a block to work for a particular style of hat or sometimes they alter them to fit their own way of blocking.

When I first saw your picture I thought maybe these were for a tight hold on the crown block when it is inserted.  This might leave an indent on each side (especially in felt) but it looks like those marks would have been covered by any bands placed around the crown.  Upon closer inspection I noticed what looks like tool marks directly above the metal piece.  They have caused a definite indent in the wood. I cannot tell from the picture if a blocking rope could be passed through these metal pieces or not.  If so, it may be that the milliner used this flange for a peticular style unique to them.

Some of my blocks have nails and extra pieces of wood secured to them that my mentors added to make a particular style or make blocking easier for their style.  It certainly is a mystery but no matter what it is a nice set and you should be able to use it in many ways.  Certainly making a hat for your husband should be no problem even with these metal pieces because as I said the indents they might make would certainly be covered by an appropriate size hatband.

If I come up with anything definite other than my speculation, I will let you know.  I would love to see a final project from this set.

Best to you, Sharon

I think you have to put the crown upsidedown into the brim. so you have a bowler with an up brim

If you want a Bowler brim you would indeed have to block the crown and then after it is dry you would put it in upside down to block the brim.  If, however, you want a hat for a female you can block it as shown in the first picture.  These are quite versatile as you can also use them separately.

Thank you both very much for your replies. I would like to try blocking it as a bowler but with those two metal pieces jutting out even when i put the crown in upside down  it will not be possible to block it as one piece as i won't be able to slip the crown through the flange when removing it after blocking the brim. those metal things are in the way, not to worry.  Thanks a million I'm sure i will come up with something. Nono


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