A Short History of the Umbrella

No one wants to be caught outside in the rain without an umbrella. These handy devices come in an array of shapes and sizes, many that will conveniently tuck into a purse or glove compartment in case of a sudden downpour. Just about everyone owns an umbrella, but not many of us give them a second thought. What follows is a brief tribute to an item most of us take for granted.

Historians are unsure of when exactly umbrellas came into play. Some say Egypt while others say China. What is for sure is that they've been around a very long time. They weren't intended to protect us from the rain, however. The ancient Greeks and Romans used them as shade from the sun.

It was the Roman women who began to oil the cloth of the umbrella to protect it from moisture. It wasn't until the 1600's that European women began to carry umbrellas, mostly as shade from the sun. Sometime in the 1700's it became popular to carry wood and oilcloth models as protection from the rain. In 1750, an Englishman named Jonah Hanway decided to carry an umbrella everywhere he went. This was unheard of. Only women carried umbrellas.

Because of this, he became the subject of much ridicule, but at least he was dry. Ignoring the snickers of those around him, Hanway carried his umbrella for 30 years. By the late 1700's however, it became more acceptable for men to carry "hanways." Because they were made of wood, umbrellas were not only expensive, but they were difficult to operate.

In 1852, Samuel Fox invented the steel ribbed kind that we see today. Since then, they've evolved. We now have umbrellas for the rain and sun. We use them on the beach, while playing golf, and on our patios and decks. What would we do without our umbrellas?.

James Hunt has spent 15 years as a professional writer and researcher covering stories that cover a whole spectrum of interest. Read more at www.umbrellas-central.info

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