An umbrella usually comes with a cover, such as a zippered-pouch or a case. We easily neglect the cover, since we’re focused on the quality of the umbrella however covers are an essential addition to the umbrella. Covers protect the umbrella to keep the umbrella in good condition over time, as well as include complimentary designs to that of the umbrella. But before we review the ins and outs of the umbrella cover, let’s take a look at the umbrella…

How Did They Come Up with The Word Umbrella?

The advent of the umbrella started 3, 500 years ago. The word ‘umbrella’ was derived from the word ‘umbra’ which means shade. Another word for umbrella is ‘parasol’, which contains ‘para’, meaning shade, and ‘sol’, meaning sun, aka sunshade. The umbrella was originally invented to provide shade from the sun.

Umbrellas In Ancient Civilizations

Umbrellas were less common 3,000 ago however one can see the umbrella, depicted in carvings, scriptures, and wall paintings, throughout Egypt, Persia, and India. Originally, they were made of leather for wealthy, high-status families, including powerful rulers.

Umbrellas were also a major part of the Roman Catholic religion. The pope used a red and yellow umbrella, called the ‘umbraculum’ for shade, which has been replicated in churches all over the world.

In the Greek and Roman Civilizations, umbrellas were most often associated with femininity however they were also used to cover massive coliseums. Umbrella canopies, called ‘velarium’, protected audiences from hot sun and rain. 

Umbrella in Early England

In England, umbrellas developed widespread popularity in the 1600’s. Nobility kept umbrellas in the hallway, to be used for the walk from the front entrance to the carriage. Some great men praised the umbrella, including author and spy, Daniel Defoe. In his literary masterpiece, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, he spoke about how his umbrella kept him cool under the searing heat of the sun. Otherwise, umbrellas were exclusively used by women.

In the 1700’s, an English philanthropist, named Jonas Hanway, popularized the umbrella for men. He went out in public with the apparatus for protection from the rain. He was ridiculed however for thirty years he never stopped using the umbrella in public. He claimed that umbrellas were undeniably practical and it didn’t bother him to carry one around London.

French Developments to the Umbrella

Umbrellas became popular in France and were considered just as fashionable, as they were practical. Certain manufacturers dedicated themselves to the production of umbrellas, making them in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. They even customized umbrellas for the different weather conditions.

The French developed light-weight umbrellas, as well as used newer materials to improve their water-repellent properties. Silk and cotton were the lightest materials available at the time, which became popular for the production of umbrellas, yet were also deemed vulnerable to damage.  

A French man, named Samuel Fox, took umbrella manufacturing to the next level when he made a lighter frame, made of whalebone material, as well as invented the strap for fastening the umbrella closed. He also used Alpaca material for the canopy that had superior durability. He was able to sell his umbrellas at a much lesser price than the ones that were previously available on the market and his umbrellas had an extended lifespan of up to 2 years. The cost of repair was also much less than with the earlier models.

The popularity of umbrellas among men attributed to Jonas Hanway, along with the newly-invented economical model, by Samuel Fox, jumpstarted the mass production of umbrellas. They became popularized, worldwide in the 1800’s, and are still used today.

Umbrella Covers in History

There is little mention of the humble umbrella cover, in history, however once the umbrella became popular, umbrella covers also came into existence. Umbrellas were originally much less affordable than they are today, which is why umbrella covers were popular for keeping them in good condition. Greater affordability of the umbrella today still doesn’t lessen the practicality of having a good quality cover.

The Importance of Umbrella Covers

It’s rare to get an umbrella without an umbrella cover and if you look closely at the cover, you can find that it’s made of strong, water-proof materials. This keeps the umbrella from collecting moisture in damp or wet environments, which preserves the quality of its materials. Umbrellas are also protected from tears, punctures, and any other accidental damages that may occur. The damage protection provided by umbrella cover is why they are a must-have item for storing umbrellas, whether short-term or long-term.

Different Umbrella Covers

Manufacturers make covers that are equally as attractive as umbrellas. Covers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including sleeves and cases. PVC covers are designed specifically for outdoor patio umbrellas and are very high in quality.

Umbrella Cover Day

Can you believe that there is such a thing as ‘Umbrella Cover Day’? Every 6th of July you can celebrate this very real tribute to umbrella covers that was started by an American woman, named Nancy Hoffman. She also opened an Umbrella Cover Museum in Peaks Island, Maine. Her idea to start the museum was founded, when she discovered several umbrella covers, in a closet in her home.

As of July 2012, Nancy had already collected 730 covers and by July 2015 her collection had grown to 1,300 covers, from over sixty different countries. The Guinness Book of World Records named Nancy’s umbrella cover collection to be the largest in the world. One glimpse at her collection and you will see a great variety of forms and designs.

She also holds special exhibitions to showcase her rapidly-growing collection. One exhibition, called ‘People and Their Covers’, includes stories of everyday people and their umbrella covers. Another exhibition, called ‘New Umbrella Cover Fashions’, showcases fancy umbrella covers in the hands of celebrities, pop stars, and other notable icons.

What Is an Umbrella Cover’s Worth?

We usually neglect this seemingly insignificant item, sticking it in drawers, the bottoms of bags, and in closets. However, umbrella covers shouldn’t be overlooked, since they are practical and can keep our umbrellas lasting longer. When we take into consideration the history of the umbrella, as well as the fascination of the umbrella cover by one woman, named Nancy, we can begin to appreciate the umbrella cover. Next time you see an umbrella cover, you may take a second glance, appreciating it for the handy little item it is.