Advertising & Marketing

When Was the Umbrella Invented? History of the Modern Umbrella

When it comes to a high-impact promotional item that can be used again and again, it just doesn’t get better than an umbrella. In fact, according to the 2023 Ad Impressions Study from the Advertising Specialty Institute, a promotional umbrella gets up to 1,760 impressions in its lifetime. Additionally, 54% of consumers would keep and use a promotional umbrella for at least two years. Talk about a promotional product that works as hard as you do! 

But before you start using umbrellas to promote your business, take a few minutes to learn more about the origin of umbrellas, their history, etymology and more.  

When was the umbrella invented?

It’s hard to identify the first umbrella ever made, since umbrellas have been around for thousands of years – art and ancient artefacts show evidence of the first umbrellas being used in Egypt, Greece and China as protection from both rain and sun as early as 5,000 years ago. 

Who invented the umbrella first?

It’s hard to say who created the umbrella, or exactly when it happened. Umbrellas were originally invented as a method of sun protection, used mainly by the upper classes in ancient civilisations. The Chinese are credited as being the first to create rain umbrellas after waxing and lacquering paper parasols.  

When was the modern umbrella invented?

In the 16th century, the umbrella started to grow in popularity in the Western world, resulting in the ever-growing popularity of the umbrella worldwide. Here is a brief timeline of the modern umbrella’s history: 

  • 1710: Parisian merchant Jean Marius popularises the lightweight folding umbrella in Europe.
  • 1750: Catherine de Medici arrives in French court and popularises the parasol.
  • 1750s: Jonas Hanway popularises the use of umbrellas for men – previously, they were used almost exclusively by women.
  • 1830: The first-ever umbrella specialty shop, ‘James Smith and Sons’, opens in London.
  • 1852: Samuel Fox, founder of the English Steels Company, invents a lightweight, steel-ribbed umbrella – which was lighter in weight.
  • 1928: Hans Haupt invents the pocket umbrella, called the ‘flirt’ in Austria and the ‘knirps’ in Germany.
  • 1969: Bradford E. Phillips, the owner of Totes Incorporated of Loveland, Ohio, obtains a patent for his ‘working foldable umbrella’.

What is the origin of the word ‘umbrella’?

Curious about the etymology of the word ‘umbrella’? The word ‘umbrella’ comes from the Latin word ‘umbra’, which means ‘shade’ or ‘shadow’. 

Different Types of Umbrellas

Standard Umbrellas

Most ‘standard’ umbrellas are about 90 cm from the top of the canopy to the bottom of the handle and are about a metre in diameter. So, they’re perfect for everyday use, especially if you just need to keep yourself sheltered. 

Promotional 27 inch umbrella with Logo

Golf Umbrellas

Golf umbrellas are designed with a larger canopy (usually around 157 cm across) to keep you, your clubs and your ball dry while you’re teeing off. 

Promotional 30” Zeke Golf Umbrella with Logo 

Folding Umbrellas

Folding umbrellas are always a giveaway favourite since they’re so compact. They’re perfect for stashing in handbags, backpacks, desk drawers and more.  

Promotional 21 inch 2 fold umbrella with Logo

Windproof Umbrellas

Storm and windproof umbrellas are made with an extra-thick canopy that is designed to withstand heavy rain, wind and even snow.  

Promotional Luxe 23” auto storm umbrella NEW QUAY

Other Novelty Umbrellas

If you want to make your brand stand out even more, consider an umbrella with a special feature – like a transparent canopy or a wooden handle.  

Promotional 23” Kate Transparent Automatic Umbrella

Why Promotional Umbrellas Make Great Giveaways

A branded umbrella is a practical giveaway that your customers will continue using long after their transaction with your business is complete. And there are plenty of great places to get your logo umbrellas into customers’ hands – give them out at trade shows, sell them in your merch shop, include them as a gift with their purchase… the options are endless.  

Once you’ve chosen the right type of umbrella for your business, customise it with your logo, business name, or slogan – go for a high-contrast imprint that will stand out in any weather. 

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