Model: Combined Stretcher for Hat Making
Rudolf Eickemeyer, Sr., was a prominent figure in Yonkers commerce during the second half of the nineteenth century. As an engineer and factory owner, he obtained more than one hundred patents ranging from industrial sewing and harvesting machines to electromagnets and electric trolleys. Many of his inventions were hat-making machines, and the Museum owns several models he kept for his own use. This combined stretcher performed two separate steps in forming a hat, which started as a damp cone of felt; it pulled out the brim and shaped the crown.
Born in Bavaria, Germany, Eickemeyer immigrated to New York in 1850. He moved to Yonkers a few years later and opened a machine repair shop with his friend George Osterheld. They helped make Yonkers a major center for the hat industry, creating machines that changed hat making around the world.
His son, Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr., was a well known photographer. He began his artistic career by working as a draftsman for his father and took his first photographs to document the firm’s inventions and momentous occasions, such as the contract signing pictured here.