It’s been revealed this week that a leading wholesale supplier, Morplan, stock more than 200 types of coat hanger. Yes, ‘types’. That’s 200 different kinds of coat hanger… one of those simple devices shaped like human shoulders and designed to facilitate the hanging of a coat, jacket, sweater, shirt, blouse or dress in a manner that prevents wrinkles (in case you needed a Wikipedia explanation!)
The humble wire framed coat hanger was first imagined by an employee of the Connecticut based Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company back in 1869 but he could never have foreseen what a useful device he’d created. Today, coat hangers are bent and shaped into all manner of objects and tools – here are just some of the uses we’ve heard of:
As movie props… During a scene of the 2008 movie ‘Birdemic: Shock and Terror’ four terrified characters defend themselves against bloodthirsty hawks and vultures by waving wire hangers over their heads.
For DIY purposes… Coat hangers are a handyman’s go to item when it comes to ‘making do’ – back in the 1970’s there was no excuse for having a broken car aerial when you could so easily attach a coat hanger to do the job! They are also molded into spare keys, as paint can holders, extension lead holders, for hanging tools up and as drain clearing devices… They’ve reputedly even been used as makeshift welding rods for nearly 100 years!
For general use… As a keyring, a light diffuser for photography, a kebab stick for cooking marshmallows or hotdogs, bent into an oversized paperclip, belt hook… the list goes on!
For fun… The humble coat hanger has provided years of fun by those who have bent one into a giant bubble blower or after sanding, used one as conducting wire for a test your steadiness game.
For sewing… it’s the obvious choice for helping to thread through elastic but we’ve even seen keen crafts men and women filing them into large sewing or knitting needles.
Made into jewellery… Lockets, rings, bracelets – the trick here is to paint on a layer of clear nail varnish to prevent the metal from irritating the skin.
Fancy dress… Just bend the frame into an outline for fairy wings, a Captain Hook style prop or even a bow (we don’t suggest using one to make the arrow!)
For display purposes… Bend it, shape it anyway you want to and you can come up with an inexpensive, yet highly functional scarf holder, jewellery holder, plate display prop or even a shoe holder.
Now, of course, we have also heard of coat hangers being used for more dubious purposes (to hot wire cars, fiddle a lock etc) but let’s end on perhaps the best use a coat hanger could claim to have – as a lifesaver… When a passenger took ill on their flight back in 1995, orthopedic surgeon Angus Wallace and his fellow doctor Tom Wong quickly unfolded a coat hanger, sterilised it with brandy and used it to stiffen a catheter in order to perform lifesaving surgery at 35,000 feet.
So before you disregard yet another coat hanger on to the scrapheap of life, do consider other possible uses. Or, if you have a coat hanger of interest – hang on to it! Collecticus magazine reported in October 2007 that some clothes hangers (especially those with a famous company or event advertised across the front) are becoming collectible – in fact, a 1950 Butlins hanger had sold for £10.10 just the previous year.