Brussels lace parasol with ivory handle, 1860s
The lovely parasol from a wealthy Dublin NH estate is a special find for the collector who appreciates all original condition. Such a fancy parasol was more of a fashion accessory and status symbol than a sun shield. With the exquisite handmade lace top, this parasol would have been the proud possession of a lady of means.
The top is fashioned from handmade Brussels lace and lined with matching cream-colored silk. The floral lace forms a pretty scalloped edge. The shaft and finial are brass; the handle is hand-carved ivory.
Parasols were practical because they shielded a Victorian lady's pale complexion from the sun. The wealthier classes had pale skin, while darker skin meant a life of outdoor labor. This was before the 1920s when Coco Chanel made the suntan fashionable.
The parasol was also useful in the subtle art of flirtation. Just as the lady employed her fan at a fancy dress ball to convey messages to her lover, she could use her parasol during the daytime. Wealthy ladies had parasols for every outfit, but poorer women also owned at least one parasol.
The condition is almost excellent. There are several hairline cracks on the ivory handle as well as a wider crack where the handle is attached to the shaft—see picture below. I also found one small split in the silk lining. These are all minor flaws that do not spoil the beauty of the parasol or affect the design integrity.
The parasol is 27" long. The top diameter is 20 1/2" when open.