Saturday, November 23, 2013

Short History of the umbrella

Short History of the umbrella

Ever Wonder Where the Umbrella Came From? Keep Reading

Photo by Molly DG / Flickr

While the umbrella is a simple tool created by man, it's been very useful since it was first created to shield humans from the sun and rain.

Invention of the Umbrella

The umbrella is thought to have been invented over 4,000 years ago. While no one knows the person who originally came up with the idea the first time, evidence of them has been found in Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and China. At first they were simple devices meant to shield people from the sun. This would change, however, when the Chinese waterproofed them to also protect from rain.

The first umbrellas were really simple, but also large and bulky. Compared to the collapsible umbrellas of today, the ancient ones were hard to handle and reserved for the very rich - people who had money to create them and also money to pay people to hold them. This would change over the years, however, as technology improved and new methods of making umbrellas were used.

Asian Umbrellas

One of the first recorded uses of an umbrella was by Wang Mang in 21 A.D. when he had one created for one of his carriages. The umbrella was actually collapsible, which made it very high-tech for the time period. While the contraption was written about in the history books of the time, an actual example was found in the tomb of Wang Mang. This is probably one of the earlier umbrellas of all time.

This wasn't the actual first umbrella in use, however. In fact, some writings have the technology going back 2,400 years or more. Over the years, the Chinese and other Asian cultures were able to improve the initial designs to come up with the collapsible umbrella we know and love today. This is a good thing because now people are able to stay dry without having to worry about staying indoors all the time!

The Modern Umbrella

The first store dedicated to nothing but umbrellas was James Smith and Sons which first opened in 1830 in  London, England. Somewhat surprisingly, the shop is still there today! The umbrellas sold in the shop were crude by today's standards. They used whale bones and waterproof canvas. In 1852, the first umbrella with metal ribs was created by Samuel Fox.

It wouldn't be until a hundred years later in the mid 20th century that the modern collapsible umbrella that's compact in size was invented. Since that time not a lot of improvements have been made. When you consider all the changes over the last 4,000+ years however, this simple invention is rather spectacular.

If you have any personal stories about umbrellas, please leave a comment below and let us know - especially if they are funny stories. While this article has given you a little peek into the history of the umbrella, there's definitely a lot more to learn about this invention that keeps on helping humanity - one rainstorm at a time.


Ben knows a lot about gutter mesh because he's been working in home construction for some time now. When not working on houses, he likes to write guest posts to publish online.

1 comment:

  1. Yours is a perfect historical data blog which i found few months back. I love your posts. I have awarded with you versatile blogger award. Please collect it here.


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