Tradition has it that the Normans brought the umbrella to England with them presumably some sort of canopy regalia in , but there is nothing very tangible to support this. Umbrellas were however in common use in France in It is often claimed that umbrellas were introduced to England by Jonas Hanway about , but this is definitely not correct. But Jonas Hanway was the first Englishman to carry an umbrella regularly.
He was pelted by coachmen and chairmen for his persistence, since they saw this craze could endanger there own means of livelihood. It should be remembered that in those days the only covered transport was the private coach or Sedan chair. Also that the umbrellas were very heavy, ungainly things made with whalebone or cane ribs, mounted on a long, stout stick of about 1" in diameter and covered with a heavy cotton fabric, waterproofed by oiling or waxing.
Only on a few public buildings was rainwater led from the roofs by gutters and fallpipes. In the main the water simply ran off the roof into the street. Although sometimes it was collected in gutters under the eaves and poured out like a miniature Niagara Falls, through the mouths of grotesque gargoyles at each corner of the building. Pavements were unknown and the gutter or kennel was in the middle of the street.
The choice was then either to carry one of these portable tents or get soaked. By the umbrella had achieved some considerable measure of popularity within a short period of time and the French ladies umbrellas had achieved remarkable elegance, and on the continent they were used as much as a sunshade as protection from rain. And it is from this period and via the sunshade that umbrellas began to develop into something lighter and more graceful.
Between and men's umbrellas had again reached a weight of over four pounds, but ladies umbrellas continued to be much lighter, weighing less than one pound. This was partly due to the use of finer fabric of silk and by the substitution of light iron stretchers, but in general umbrellas in this country, until the middle of the last century, were made with ribs of whalebone for the best quality and of split cane for the cheaper quality.
Then in the late 's came the development of the Fox Steel Ribs and Frames. And so the modern umbrella was born. It probably could not be closed, but otherwise it looks like an ordinary umbrella, and the ribs are represented distinctly.
The use of the parasol and umbrella in France and England was adopted, probably from China, about the middle of the seventeenth century. At that period, pictorial representations of it are frequently found, some of which exhibit the peculiar broad and deep canopy belonging to the large parasol of the Chinese Government officials, borne by native attendants.
In Thomas Coryat's Crudities, published in , about a century and a half prior to the general introduction of the umbrella into England, is a reference to a custom of riders in Italy using umbrellas: And many of them doe carry other fine things of a far greater price, that will cost at the least a duckat, which they commonly call in the Italian tongue umbrellas, that is, things which minister shadowve to them for shelter against the scorching heate of the sunne.
They are used especially by horsemen, who carry them in their hands when they ride, fastening the end of the handle upon one of their thighs, and they impart so large a shadow unto them, that it keepeth the heate of the sunne from the upper parts of their bodies. Also a bonegrace for a woman.
Also the husk or cod of any seede or corne. In Randle Cotgrave's Dictionary of the French and English Tongues , the French Ombrelle is translated An umbrello; a fashion of round and broad fanne, wherewith the Indians and from them our great ones preserve themselves from the heat of a scorching sunne; and hence any little shadow, fanne, or thing, wherewith women hide their faces from the sunne.
In Fynes Moryson's Itinerary is a similar allusion to the habit of carrying umbrellas in hot countries "to auoide the beames of the Sunne". Their employment, says the author, is dangerous, "because they gather the heate into a pyramidall point, and thence cast it down perpendicularly upon the head, except they know how to carry them for auoyding that danger".
In France, the umbrella parapluie began to appear in s, when the fabric of parasols carried for protection against the sun was coated with wax. The inventory of the French royal court in mentioned "eleven parasols of taffeta in different colours" as well as "three parasols of waxed toile, decorated around the edges with lace of gold and silver.
It could be opened and closed in the same way as modern umbrellas, and weighed less than one kilogram. Marius received from the King the exclusive right to produce folding umbrellas for five years. A model was purchased by the Princess Palatine in , and she enthused about it to her aristocratic friends, making it an essential fashion item for Parisiennes.
In , a French scientist named Navarre presented a new design to the French Academy of Sciences for an umbrella combined with a cane. Pressing a small button on the side of the cane opened the umbrella. Their use became widespread in Paris.
In , a Paris magazine reported: Those who do not want to be mistaken for vulgar people much prefer to take the risk of being soaked, rather than to be regarded as someone who goes on foot; an umbrella is a sure sign of someone who doesn't have his own carriage.
The Lieutenant General of Police of Paris issued regulations for the rental umbrellas; they were made of oiled green silk, and carried a number so they could be found and reclaimed if someone walked off with one.
By there were 42 shops; by there were three hundred seventy-seven small shops making umbrellas in Paris, employing workers. By the end of the century, however, cheaper manufacturers in the Auvergne replaced Paris as the centre of umbrella manufacturing, and the town of Aurillac became the umbrella capital of France.
The town still produces about half the umbrellas made in France; the umbrella factories there employ about one hundred workers. In Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, he constructed his own umbrella in imitation of those that he had seen used in Brazil. Captain James Cook, in one of his voyages in the late 18th century, reported seeing some of the natives of the South Pacific Islands with umbrellas made of palm leaves. The use of the umbrella or parasol though not unknown was uncommon in England during the earlier half of the eighteenth century, as is evident from the comment made by General then Lieut.
About the same time, umbrellas came into general use as people found their value, and got over the shyness natural to its introduction.
Jonas Hanway, the founder of the Magdalen Hospital, has the credit of being the first man who ventured to dare public reproach and ridicule by carrying one habitually in London. As he died in , and he is said to have carried an umbrella for thirty years, the date of its first use by him may be set down at about John Macdonald[disambiguation needed] relates that in , he used to be addressed as, "Frenchman, Frenchman!
By however they seem to have been accepted: Paris Street; Rainy Weather, by Gustave Caillebotte Since then, the umbrella has come into general use, in consequence of numerous improvements. In China people learned how to waterproof their paper umbrellas with wax and lacquer. The transition to the present portable form is due, partly, to the substitution of silk and gingham for the heavy and troublesome oiled silk, which admitted of the ribs and frames being made much lighter, and also to many ingenious mechanical improvements in the framework.
Victorian era umbrellas had frames of wood or baleen, but these devices were expensive and hard to fold when wet.
Modern designs usually employ a telescoping steel trunk; new materials such as cotton, plastic film and nylon often replace the original silk.
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