Fine Art Displayed in Parasol Handles: 1902

A crystal parasol handle from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection. See this link for details.

A crystal parasol handle from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection. See this link for details.

Artistic New Parasol Handles

Fine art is conspicuously in evidence in the new parasol handles. Indeed, one of the fads this summer will be to have very beautiful handles for sunshades, and introduced as they are in the creation of the more expensive models, with direct reference to the evolution of the color scheme of the parasol in a way that is essentially artistic. For example, a sunshade of exclusive elegance in white taffeta silk, with applications of black Chantilly lace, has a handle of ebony carved to represent a black lotus with inner petals of ivory. A pale green taffeta sunshade has a handle of the lovely green and buff magnolia wood; one of tan taffeta, a handle of burnt ivory; a Dolly Varden sunshade of warp-painted taffeta, white with sprays of small roses in nature’s tintings of pink and green, with a hand-painted porcelain ball-top decorated with tiny roses. Soft pink rock quartz or clear crystal handles give the finishing touch to lace-covered sunshades and the frou-frou creations of chiffon and mousseline.

Natural woods are much used, and the delicately hued magnolia wood, the oddly-marked thistle, furze, ebony, partridge, pimento and bamboo are all in fashionable favour. But where art is especially to the fore is in the carved handles. Various kinds of woods, ivory, crystal, tortoise shell, mother-of-pear and even nuts are all wrought by the talent of the artificer into the graceful similitude of flowers or into animal figures. The magnolia wood, which is especially fashionable this summer and so effective in its deep cream and delicate green markings, is carved with the heads of swans, ducks, rabbits and parrots, in which the individual characteristics are realistically expressed by the skilful touch of the carver. Handles of white enamelled wood are surmounted with the graceful figures of birds carved and painted. A white taffeta sunshade has a white enameled handle upon which perches a stork, the long neck curving gracefully downward until the beak rests against the stick carved from wood and tinted in shadings of delicate green.

Ebony is very fashionable for both parasol and umbrella handles, and appears in the natural effect of the wood or highly polished when extremely artistic results are accomplished. A handle out of the ordinary is an elephant’s head in polished ebony, with the ivory tusks set in. Upon the top of the handle of another sunshade sits the polished ebony figure of a bulldog less than three inches high, which is a skilful study of for and an expressive piece of characterization, especially in the interpretation of the proverbial “bulldog tenacity.” Some of the animal figures carved from ebony look as if they had been purloined from a curio cabinet to do duty as handles of the parasols of fashionable women. Flowers are exquisitely carved in ebony, orchids being especially favoured. Sometimes the handle may be decorated with a single bloom or two, or it may be a mass of small flowers and leaves cunningly wrought in the somber wood.

The newest handles in rock crystal are balls divided into hemispheres the interior being carved and painted in some wonderful way with flowers; the parts are then joined with a narrow gold an d and attached to a partridge stick with a series of four gold rigs. The effect is of a flower—a snowy petaled pansy or a daisy—floating in clear, limpid water. Mother-of-pearl is artistically carved into animal heads and graceful flower forms. A charming idea is “the face in the flower,” an ideal female profile framed in the petals of a flower carved form the shimmering pearl. Insects of pearl, with gold legs and jewelled wings, perch complacently on handles of natural wood. Ivory is prominent among the parasol handles and is both carved and burned. Orchids are of carved ivory and carnations of coral. The head of a setter in shell is one of a number of exquisite handles in the lovely shaded substance yielded from the back of the tortoise. Unique is the head of a Kaffir-boy carved from a nut and polished until it resembles old ivory.

In quite another class are the hand-painted handles. Among the most fashionable are balls hand-decorated in Coalport manner, as exquisitely as the choice pieces of the ware intended for cabinet ornamentation. Famous portraits by the masters of art are introduced in miniature form on the handles of imported parasols. Of these strikingly beautiful is a handle copied after the charming laurel enwreathed women’s head by Lefevre.

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 25 May 1902: p. B3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One would not mind the inclement weather half as much were one in possession of these lovingly-described umbrellas and parasols. However, some gentlemen, it was found, were in need of a course on how to properly deploy an umbrella when in company with a lady.

Rules That Have Been Formulated for the Young Men of Gotham.

It is said that a school is about to be formed in the great city of New York for the purpose of teaching young men how to carry an umbrella properly over the head of a fair companion.

Something of the kind has long been needed, says the New York World. This season, with its rains and hail and snow, created an absolute demand for it. And so an umbrella schools has sprung into existence. A committee of women selected from the most popular classes of women—widows and debutantes—have formulated a code of rules which shall stand as the A B C’s of the school. They are as follows;

Be sure that the umbrella is unfurled before you leave the doorstep or car. It is exasperating to a woman to walk under a drizzly drip while her escort is fumbling with the shelter.

When once the umbrella is raised, hold it not to the right nor to the left, nor to the front nor to the back, but directly over the hat of the woman.

Be sure that it is not so far forward that the back prongs of the umbrella will drip upon her shoulders, nor yet so far back that the front will drip upon her bangs.

Don’t yank her by the arm while carrying an umbrella. She wants to hold up her skirts and, besides that, the pose of the umbrella is sure to suffer.

Never mind your own hat, even though it be a silk one, and do not value the safety of your eyes, but devote your whole attention to the covering of that one woman.

Should the elements rage in all directions, and the rains descend from everywhere, and the clouds pour forth torrents from the north, south, east and west, abandon at once all hope of keeping the woman’s garments dry and bring all your energies to bear upon the preservations of her frizzes. Keep them dry at all hazards. E’en though you have to shelter them under your “plaidie.” Remember always that better a wet, sozzled, dripping woman with pretty bangs than a dry one with stingy, discontented, desolated locks.

The News-Herald [Hillsboro, OH] 23 April 1891: p. 2


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