Friday, June 21, 2013

An Antique Parasol Acquisition: Part One

Ashley and I have been shopping around for antique parasols for years, but until now we haven't found anything appropriate to either our limited budgets or the historically specific styles we needed.  Then, out of the blue, about a month ago, I won two antique parasols on ebay in the space of a couple of days.  It never rains, but it pours!  I plan to re-cover both of them at some point in the (probably pretty distant) future, but before I start picking them apart, I wanted to document the details so that I can recreate their new covers as closely as possible.

The first parasol has a straight and smooth wooden handle and a metal mechanism.  Its canopy is linen, I think (the dealer listed it as cotton, but it looks and feels more like linen to me), with a tiny single-row eyelet detail 4" up from the edge.  As you can see from the photos, the canopy is in pretty bad condition; one panel has completely split and the others are very brittle, with lots of tiny holes and significant discoloration.  A tassel once hung from the handle, but all that remains of it now is the cording.

My guess, based on the shape, the length and style of the handle and the canopy, is that this parasol dates to about 1900-1920ish.  If anyone with more parasol knowledge than I can date this more specifically based on these pictures, I'd love to hear your input! :-)






The long tip of the parasol is embellished with a "rosette" sort of ruffle detail.


Inside, a scalloped disc protects the tips of the fabric panels from the mechanism. 


Small round discs folded in half are sewn over the joints in an effort to prevent the fabric catching.


I've never re-covered a parasol before, so I plan to document the adventure thoroughly!  Stay tuned for that!


Samantha said...

i think you're right with the date. i have one very similar in style, and that's what i figured it was. it still has its tassel!

best of luck recovering the parasols! i've only recovered one of the four i own, and unfortunately i had to rush it for an event the very next day, so it didn't turn out as nicely as i had hoped. but i'd like to re-do it soon, since i think the size and shape would work for the 18th century. my other three parasols are from the 1850s, and i would like to get a bit more practice before i tackle recovering them. the spokes are all baleen, so i am nervous about damaging them. you've inspired me to document and post them on my blog, though! i really look forward to your work on your parasols.

AuntieNan said...

How timely! I have to do this too! Our theater got 5 of them donated by another theater, so I will be watching your posts.
I found this article online, in case it helps:

Best of luck, and I will await your discussion!
Auntie Nan

Unknown said...

I recovered a parasol and it was actually easier than I expected. I made a mock-up pattern first, then cut my actual fabric, which was black silk taffeta with a nice selvedge. The selvedge was the edge and the shape of the pieces gave it the bias stretch needed to make a nice smooth parasol. (Hope that makes sense; running on little sleep)

An Historical Lady said...

What a great find! So glad you got them!

ZipZip said...

Funny, I have exactly the same parasol. It's handle had snapped (I've repaired that), but otherwise it's in fine shape, including the tassel. If you'd like picures, just let me know.

Claudine de Montigny's blog Idle Hands has several fine posts about parasol repair and recovering. Perhaps you've seen them? (

Very best,

Natalie in KY

vintagevisions27 said...

I have a very similar parasol in black cotton (I think it's cotton anyway) complete with the same eyelet detail. This one still has the tassel and has a curved end. It's been awhile since I've looked at it but I remember it was pretty damaged.

Rebecca said...

Oh how funny that two of you have almost the exact same parasol! Must have been a pretty popular style!

Thank you all so much for the resources. I hadn't seen any of those before, and have saved the links to look through them when I'm ready to start this project...which won't be for a while yet, unforunately, but I'll most certainly post updates as soon as I begin the adventure!

I purchased both of the parasols (the other one coming in the next post!) for a 1908-1911 project for next summer, but I *think* I could probably get away with going 18h century with this one as well. Not ideal, but decent!

Samantha, I'd love to find a parasol with baleen spokes (*sigh*), but I agree - I'd be terrified to take it apart for fear I'd hurt it!!! Best of luck with re-covering yours. I'll look forward to reading your posts! :-) And by the way, are you going to be at UTR? If so, I'll see you there!

Cassidy said...

I actually bought an identical parasol (in worse shape) a few months ago!

Anonymous said...

I was just reading Nicole Rudolph's description of recovering a parasol on her blog.

Unknown said...

Abba Patio 8.5' Round Parasol Patio Umbrella from Bizarkdeal

This is a beautiful umbrella, so happy we purchased it. I love the color, it compliments our chocolate and gold coloring of our house. I would certainly recommend it to friends and family. I would buy one again if needed.

NOTE: I received this product at a discount for sharing my unbiased experience.