Fact File about the Invention of the Umbrella: Invention: Collapsible Umbrella *** Date of Invention: 1851 *** Name of Inventor: Samuel Fox *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1815 - 1887 *** Nationality of Inventor: English *** Historical Period: Second US Industrial Revolution / Victorian (1850 - 1914) *** Category: Clothing and Apparel *** Country of Origin: England *** Facts about the Inventor, Samuel Fox, and the invention of the
modern Collapsible Umbrella ***
Fact 1: Who invented the Umbrella? The Umbrella was invented by Samuel
Fox in 1851 during the Second US Industrial Revolution era of inventions (1850 -
Fact 2: Who invented the Umbrella? Prior to Samuel Fox's invention of the
first successfully collapsible umbrella frame in 1851, the umbrella or parasol
was used in China, Egypt, Rome, Greece and Mesopotamia.
Fact 3: Who invented the Umbrella? The word umbrella derives from the
Latin word 'umbra' which in turn derives from the Ancient Greek word 'ombros',
meaning “shade” or “shadow”.
Fact 4: Who invented the Umbrella? A general description of an umbrella
is a "hand-held portable canopy which opens and folds". The device is used as a
sunshade, or parasol, or as a portable shelter from rain.
Fact 5: Who invented the Umbrella? The Chinese use of the umbrella and
parasol dates way back to the 11th century BC where costly silk umbrellas with
bamboo or mulberry frames started being used by Ancient Chinese nobility and
royalty. The delicate silk top was beautifully painted with various
designs of flowers, dragons, animals, figures, and writings. The most expensive
also had beautiful carvings in the bamboo or mulberry frames.
Fact 6: Who invented the Umbrella? Important dignitaries carried
umbrellas and parasols with different shapes and decorations marking status and
rank. Chinese members of the royal court carried only red or yellow umbrellas,
whereas lesser mortals were restricted to blue umbrellas. Umbrellas were used
for both ceremonial and practical purposes.
Fact 7: Who invented the Umbrella? As a further sign of power and status
the most important Chinese courtiers carried multi-tiered umbrellas, and the
Chinese Emperor was protected with four tiers of a highly elaborate parasol.
Fact 8: Who invented the Umbrella? The Chinese tradition of carrying
umbrellas or parasols spread to the neighbouring countries such as Japan, Korea,
Siam and Burma. In Siam, now known as Thailand, and Burma parasols with between
eight to 24 tiers were used to indicate status and power.
Fact 9: Who invented the Umbrella? Paper was
invented in China in 105 AD and one of its uses was to be used for brightly
decorated sun shading parasols. This brought down the cost of expensive silk
shades and their popularity grew. Oiled , waterproof umbrellas were made using
cheap cotton or linen that were oiled with teak oil and dyed with a coloring
pigment - valuable time was not spent on hand painted decorations.
Fact 10: Who invented the Umbrella? The people who lived in the land
known as Mesopotamia, including the Sumerians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians
and the Persians, lived in hot, dry climates and used umbrella devices as
sunshades. It is probable that the first such devices were made from palm leaves
attached to a stick.
Fact 11: Who invented the Umbrella? However, the palm tree was sacred in
Mesopotamian religions and as the objects gradually evolved only religious
leaders, royalty and nobles were allowed to use them as a form of protection.
The umbrella soon became a symbol of an important rank and wealth.
Fact 12: Who invented the Umbrella? The umbrella was adopted by other
cultures who had contact with the Ancient Mesopotamians and slaves in Ancient
Egypt, Greece, Rome carried sunshades for their masters to shield them from the
sun. In both Greece and Rome only the women used the protective shade of an
umbrella, men viewed their use as 'unmanly'.
Fact 13: Who invented the Umbrella? Because of the dry climates of the
Middle East, Egypt, Greece and Rome the inhabitants never found a need to
waterproof their parasols and create umbrellas. There is no evidence of the
early use of umbrellas in the wetter climates of Northern Europe. The influence
of the Roman Catholic Church also impacted the use of such objects as they were
closely associated with the cultures and religions of Pagan societies.
Fact 14: Who invented the Umbrella? Trade between the East and West
during the Renaissance era witnessed the fashion for oriental goods. In the late
16th and 17th century France, Italy, England and America royalty and the
nobility adopted expensive silk umbrellas as sun shades.
Fact 15: Who invented the Umbrella? The umbrella that provided lasting
protection from rain became an acceptable accessory in Northern Europe and
America during the early 1800's of the Industrial Revolution when heavier and
more reinforced umbrellas began to be manufactured and advertised. One such
entrepreneur was an Englishman called Samuel Fox who invented the world's first
successfully collapsible umbrella frame.
Fact 16: Who invented the Umbrella? The inventor of the Umbrella, Samuel Fox, was born on 17 June 1815 in Bradwell, Derbyshire, UK and died on 25 February 1887.
Fact 17: Who invented the Umbrella? Samuel Fox was apprenticed to Samuel
Cocker's firm of wire-drawers in Hathersage, Derbyshire. The ancient trade of
wire-drawers converted cylindrical and flexible strands of metal into wire. To
make wire, metal would be forcibly 'drawn' through a succession of holes in
stone beads that gradually decreased the size of the diameter of the wire.
Initially the flexible wire produced by wire-drawers were used in making
Fact 18: Who invented the Umbrella? Samuel Fox started his own
wiredrawing business in Stocksbridge, Sheffield in 1845. The
Telegraph had just been invented by Samuel Morse
(1791 - 1872) in 1837 which enabled communication across wires and inventors
were also experimenting with Electricity that also
required the use of wire.
Fact 19: Who invented the Umbrella? The wire-drawer Samuel Fox had chosen
the right business to go into and aware of the advance of new technology he
encouraged his workers to come up with new ideas. One of his employees, an
engineer named Joseph Hayward invented a new hollow (‘U’-shaped), flexible wire.
Fact 20: Who invented the Umbrella? Samuel Fox looked for ways to utilize
the new wire, which led to his invention of the world's first successfully
collapsible umbrella frame. Samuel Fox was not technically minded, nor had he
trained as an engineer, but he was a practical person and a sharp businessman.
He was aware that the umbrella was increasing in popularity but he was also
aware that the umbrellas being manufactured at the time were either too
cumbersome or too fragile.
Fact 21: Who invented the Umbrella? Samuel Fox had found the perfect use
for his new, flexible wire and in 1851 he invented the 'Fox Paragon Umbrella'
which became an immediate success. "Fox's Paragon Umbrellas", with frames made
out of his special new, strong lightweight wire, resulted in Samuel Fox becoming
the largest umbrella frame manufacturer in the world. He also made a fortune out
of using his lightweight wire for the manufacture of the hoops used to stiffen
the fashionable crinoline skirts of the 1860's.
Fact 22: Who invented the Umbrella? Samuel Fox died on 25 February 1887
but the history of the umbrella continued. In 1928 Hans Haupt invented the
pocket umbrella. Later inventors developed umbrellas that could withstand storm
winds and could not be turned inside out. The history of the umbrella is an
interesting one, and what would we do in rainy climates without this ingenious