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Folding Parasol Artifact Highlight #28

This folding parasol was donated to our collection in 2020. The outer canopy is made of white silk, black lace, and sequins. The inner canopy is made of white silk, which covers the ribs of the parasol. The shaft and the handle are made of carved wood and metal. It dates to the late 19th century.

The parasol was a very popular ladies accessory during the Victorian and Edwardian periods and was used to protect against the sun. Tan skin was associated with the working class and toiling outdoors, so women were diligent in ensuring their pale complexion and used parasols when going to church, strolling in the park, or riding in an open carriage.

July 16, 1899. PCM Collection.

Parasols were usually smaller than umbrellas, which were used for protection against rain. They were lightweight and made in a wide range of styles and colors, frequently matching the outfit. They were often made of silk, chiffon, satin, taffeta, linen, or cotton, and could be decorated with embroidery, lace, beadwork, sequins, fringes, and ribbons.

PCM Collection

The shafts were made of wood, metal, or ivory, with coral or porcelain handles. The popularity of the Asian style during the late Victorian period brought with it parasols made of bamboo and covered in silk and painted paper.

"Auburn Ladies" PCM Collections.

Background Image: "The Dandy Six" August 1888. PCM Collection.

The parasol was donated by Kim Haswell of Auburn and is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Esther Birdsall Darling.

Esther Birdsall Darling

Bridsall Darling was a writer, poet, and traveler. She spent her childhood in Sacramento and graduated from Mills College in Oakland.

Oakland Tribune February 2, 1928

In 1907 she married Charles Edward Darling and moved to Nome, Alaska. She became interested in sled-dogs and became owner of a racing team and kennel.

Some of the dogs from her kennel were sent to France during WWI to be part of the Sled-Dog Division of the French Army. She made one of her champion sled-dogs the hero of her first book titled “Baldy of Nome.”

Birdsall Darling died in Auburn in 1965.