• FA-123751 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Textiles and Clothing
1900 - 1909
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Woman’s fez hat, early 20th century


Top hats, berets, veils – head coverings always evoke associations and emotions. They represent a mentality or economic approach, culture or religion, uniformity or diversity.

The ‘Turkish caps’ originally came from north Africa. For a long time they were made in Tunis and in the Moroccan city of Fez, from which they derived their name. In the 18th century firms in Italy and the south of France also began to manufacture these brimless hats with a flattened top and a dangling tassel. Fezes were made in Brno for the first time around 1780. Initially, the manufacturers had the fez hats knitted by hand in rural areas in Moravia, Bohemia and Upper Austria; later on, they were woven on weaving looms. From the loom the caps were taken to the fulling machine; they were then placed over a form, roughened, shorn and napped. After dyeing they were pressed between heated metal plates.

The small Bohemian town of Strakonice (German: Strakonitz) became a European production site for fez hats. There, around 1800, several hosiery makers began producing these red hats for a Linz merchant. In 1809 a French soldier who had stayed behind after the war taught them how to refine the process. Thereafter Turkish businessmen based in Vienna began to commission goods in Strakonice for sale in the Balkans. Trade with ships of the Austrian Lloyd gave the products a high recognition value.

In the 1830s the Ottoman rulers introduced reforms that were often inspired by European role models. Among them, they banned the wearing of the traditional turban within the army and the civil service and introduced the fez as a head covering. It soon became a fashionable item, much to the delight of its Austrian manufacturers. By the mid-1860s the company Volpini in Lower Austria was making 30,000 dozen of these hats a year. And at Wolf Fürth & Co. in Strakonice, 700 people were employed making no fewer than 100,000 dozen fez hats a year.

Manufacturer: Fez factory Thomas Novotny & Co., Batelau (Batelow), Moravia

Date of origin: early 20th century

Inv.Nr. 72673/3
Member of