Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let It Rain!

Whether you call it an umbrella, parasol, gamp, Hanway or brolly, if you live in certain parts of Canada, you will need one every ten minutes (or so it seems!). The rainfall this season has been heavy and contributing to the lacking feeling of summer. So in honor of our very wet summer, here is a little history on the umbrella.

Did you know the umbrella is over 4000 years old? Originally designed to provide shade (from the Latin root word "umbra", meaning shade or shadow), it was first thought to have been used against rain in China where the paper parasols were waxed and lacquered.

In the 16th century, within the rainy weather of northern Europe the umbrella became more popular - but mostly for women as an accessory.

Jonas Hanway (1712-86), a traveller and writer, carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for thirty years, popularizing the umbrella for use among men. English gentleman still often refer to their umbrellas as a "Hanway."
The first all umbrella shop was called "James Smith and Sons" and opened in 1830 in London, England. Umbrellas were originally made of wood or whalebone and covered with alpaca or oiled canvas. The curved handles for the umbrellas were often carved out of hard woods like ebony.

Vintage umbrellas and paraphernalia now available:

Vintage Umbrella Stand


Keith said...

Hey Veronica. Never knew that about the umbrella. Wow. It's definitely been around for a long time. We've had so much rain here this summer. I'm so sick of it.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Had no clue the umbrella was that old or that Englishmen referred to it as a Hanway...pretty interesting. I blurted out laughing when I red the little yellow ones were S&P shakers..too cute!

Catwalk Creative Vintage said...

We get lots of rain in Manchester so you're not on your own. I never go anywhere (even on a hot day) without my umbrella. Great article! I enjoyed reading it very much. xx