Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Date:

    1850-1860 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Metal frame covered with embroidered taffeta and silk. Carved ivory handle.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by HM Queen Mary

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The parasol was a popular accessory during the 19th and early 20th century, a period when sun tanned skin was highly undesirable. It functioned both as a sunshade and a fashionable accompaniment to dress, distinguishing itself from the umbrella through its infinite and luxurious forms and essentially feminine status. Like the earlier trend for fans parasols displayed an individual's style and could be used in a coquettish ritual to hide the modest bearer from unwanted glances

Small parasols such as this example were designed for open carriage rides which were hugely popular in the middle of the nineteenth century. A folding hinge, held upright by a sliding metal tube when open, meant the parasol could be reduced to half its size when not in use. Carriage parasols were often elaborate in design as their small size meant manufacturers could display their very best in labour and materials. They were also key in the display of wealth and taste, the very possession of one implying ownership of a carriage. This is a typical example of the 1850s, with a thin carved ivory stick and embroidered cover which had become common place, The Ladies Cabinet reporting in 1850 'There is a profusion of embroideries on all materials this year.'

Physical description

Parasol. Embroidered taffeta and cream silk with silk fringing. Folding carved ivory handle.


1850-1860 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Metal frame covered with embroidered taffeta and silk. Carved ivory handle.


Length: 71 cm not folded, Length: 37 cm folded, Width: 48 cm open, Width: 13 cm closed

Object history note

Description from the acquisition register

Folding handle of carved ivory, cover of white silk, white work embroidery with patterns of vine leaves and tendrils, white silk lining.

Descriptive line

embroidered taffeta, 1850-60, English; Cream with cream lining, fringe, ivory handle


Taffeta; Silk; Ivory; Metal


Embroidery; Carving; Fringing


Accessories; Fashion; Women's clothes; Textiles; Parasols & Umbrellas; Personal accessories


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.