Umbrella encyclopaedia

Umbrella encyclopaedia

Technical terms around the umbrella


This is the well-known umbrella from England made by Swaine Adeney Brigg, which epitomises the English gentleman.

(also: cover)

This is the fabric with which the umbrella is covered, and is usually polyester. This is because polyester doesn’t change when stretched out in both wet and dry states. Used as well, however, are both nylon and cotton. In addition, plasticised fabrics are employed - but these can be quite unwieldy in cold weather.

(also: gilt cap)

The cap rests above the notch on top of the umbrella canopy, and serves to divert water from the ferrule onto the canopy. In this way it prevents water from running down along the shaft. For further improving the impermeability in this area, a rosette made of the same fabric as the canopy is often situated between the canopy and the cap.

Cherry wood

Cherry is the most beautiful wood, and the most expressive through its wood-grain and colour. It is used for making umbrella shafts, along with ash, chestnut, hickory, ebony, and many others.

Chinese imports

The majority of umbrellas sold on the German market (more than 90%) are manufactured in China. Even with the low wages prevailing, the cheapest models are made by home workers.


Almost all umbrella fabrics today are coated with Teflon. This renders the umbrella rainproof, and the fabrics are for the most part protected against soiling. The coating itself is not visible. The colours of the materials are maintained and the fabric retains its soft touch.

Connecting wire

Special wire is used to connect the ribs with the notch and runner.

Continuous stick shafts
(also: solid sticks)

These are wooden shafts made of one continuous piece of natural wood. In principle these are walking sticks with handles which are bent in a manual process employing steam over months. In every case the most exquisite umbrellas have continuous shafts made of a variety of high-quality woods.

Crutch umbrellas

These are umbrellas which can also serve as a walking stick or cane, and are fitted with a handle situated at almost a right angle to the shaft, in contrast to straight or rounded handles. This handle enables a stable grip when using the umbrella as walking or standing support. They also have particularly strong shafts to ensure stability. They are smaller than designer umbrellas and have a slip-proof ferrule (often made of rubber) on the end of the shaft.

Designer umbrellas

There are genuine designer umbrellas which actually originate in the fashion studios of artists such as Giorgio Armani and others. "Pseudo" designer products also exist which use normal fabric collections and attach a designer label to the patterns, without being based on original concepts or designs.

Doorman’s umbrellas

An umbrella the size of a golf umbrella which gets its name from its use by hotel doormen.


All umbrellas should be opened up and allowed to dry overnight. Metal parts dry less easily than the canopy materials, and when the umbrella is closed the canopy keeps air away from the frame. Inadequate drying is the main cause of defective umbrellas.


This is a push-button release system for opening the umbrella, and then closing it in the same way. After closing, the umbrella shaft must be further pressed in by hand to create the required tension for the opening operation.


If a long umbrella is used for walking support it can be made slip-proof on flat surfaces by slipping on a ferrule made of rubber onto the end of the shaft. Wooden shafted umbrellas have a ferrule made of tough plastic, and very high-end umbrellas have a ferrule made of horn. All good long umbrellas have a ferrule made of slip-preventing nylon, which also prevents the umbrella from clattering when it’s set on the floor.


This includes all parts of the umbrella except the canopy and the handle. The 10-piece or 8-piece variations refer to the number of ribs. Generally 8-piece frames are used for long and pocket-sized umbrellas. For mini-pocket products (Piccolo, etc.) 6-piece frames are also used. Especially stable and high-quality umbrellas are constructed with 10-piece frames.

Golf umbrellas

These are oversized umbrellas with rib lengths of 67 cm to 75 cm. They have a straight handle in order to fit cleanly among golf clubs in a golf bag. The handles can also fit into an adaptor which fastens them to a golf caddy.


This is the name for the individual fabric segments used in the canopy. Usually these are printed separately and carefully stitched together.

Long umbrellas

These are all umbrellas which are not telescoping or folding. The term is most often used for longer women’s umbrellas. The canopies of long umbrellas are larger than those of the pocket-sized products.

Malacca cane

Malacca cane is used to make many high-quality and lightweight umbrella handles. It is a cane growing in Asia, consisting of long smooth segments. It is particularly beautiful when its natural wood-grain is highlighted with the application of several coats of boat lacquer. We also use continuous Malacca shafts (handle and shaft are made of a single piece of cane).


Small pocket umbrellas whose shafts are telescoping in a number of stages, and whose ribs can be folded likewise in a number of stages.


This is the middle of the umbrella canopy at which point the ribs are attached with the connecting wire, and as such is the nexus point of the umbrella. The notch itself is attached directly to the shaft. Today notches are almost exclusively made of plastic, while extremely high-quality handcrafted umbrellas have notches made of metal.


All umbrellas, whether automatic or manual-lift, are opened by moving the runner.


Piccolo (Italian for "small") is the name applied to mini pocket umbrellas which are less than 20 cm long in their retracted condition.

Pocket umbrella

All small foldable and telescoping umbrellas are referred to as pocket umbrellas. The first pocket umbrella was brought to market by Knirps 80 years ago.


The ribs are the parts of the umbrella which support the canopy. They are connected to the shaft through the runner and the notch. Materials used include steel, fibreglass, aluminium, and even bamboo. The stability of the umbrella is determined to a large extent by the strength, material, and form of the ribs.


Rivets are used to hold together and keep mobile the individual parts of the rib. The rivet functions in this regard like a wheel axle. The rivets absorb a tremendous amount of pressure and must be very precisely made. This is achieved best with rivets which are solid, non-rusting, and made of brass.


Both automatic umbrellas as well as the manual-lift umbrellas are opened and closed by moving the runner along the shaft.

(also: stick)

The shaft is the piece on which the handle is fixed and to which the frame is attached. Shafts are often made of steel and can be plated with nickel or brass, or painted. They can also be made of fibreglass, aluminium, carbon fibre, cane, and of course wood. High-quality and stable umbrellas have continuous (i.e., one-piece and solid) shafts, and are hence at core elegant walking sticks.

Shoulder-strap umbrellas

These are actually long umbrellas with an adapted handle and cap to which a strap is attached. This allows one to carry the umbrella over the shoulder (hence the name).


Automatic umbrellas have an extremely strong spring, which opens the umbrella by pressing the shaft and ribs out from each other. The unusual aspect of automatic springs is that the spring and its pressure point move together in the same direction. In duomatic umbrellas a combination of rubber drawstrings embedded in the shaft and spiral springs is employed.

Stick umbrellas

These are umbrellas, which are usually stored in an aluminium tube. Such tubes have a detachable handle and the appearance of a walking stick. When using the umbrella the shaft can likewise also be used for support while walking.


The tips are fixed at the end of the ribs. The canopy is sewn to the tip in they same way as a knob to a shirt. Top


This pin is located on the upper part of the umbrella shaft and prevents the umbrella from being raised too high and turning inside-out.


On a pocket umbrella the top is the detachable upper part above the ferrule.

U-profile or paragon rib

U-profile or paragon rib refers to the U-shape of the steel or aluminium rib - a characteristic, which stabilises it through greater strength and elasticity.


In some golf umbrellas the ventilation principle is applied in order to better protect the large canopy against strong winds. In the face of strong wind gusts, part of the canopy rises and allows built-up pressure to be relieved via a series of vents. This type of umbrella is virtually impervious to being blown inside-out.

 (also: wind-resistant, wind-defying)

"Windproof" and similar terms means that an umbrella can be restored to its normal position after being twisted over by a strong gust of wind. "Windproof" does not, however, mean that the particular umbrella will continuously withstand this process. The term is mainly applied to imported articles from the Far East.

Wooden shaft

Long umbrellas often have a wooden shaft, mainly due to the attractive rustic appearance achieved with the combination of wood and cotton. The problem with a non-continuous wooden shaft, however, is that it is not suitable for walking support. This is because the handle is glued onto a small nub on the shaft. The problem is avoided when the umbrella is equipped with a continuous wooden shaft (see above).

Is an important term missing, or do you have further questions? You’re welcome to contact us at any time.

8 years ago