Wednesday, 2 October 2013
British Brollier - James Smith & Sons 1830
One of the Oldest Names in British Brollies
I finally left my brolly on a train. Goodbye, sweet friend. Here he is out and about with some brown shoes. Francis Bown wouldn't approve of that combination. He recommends that the umbrella should match the shoes. He's very strict on these matters.
Flicking though the older pages of The Tweed Pig, ignoring the typos and grammatical license taken, I was struck by how little we've covered brollies (considering we live in the dampest set of islands in the Northern hemisphere).
And we haven't yet mentioned one of the biggest names in British brollydom, James Smith & Sons. Family-owned — not by a middle-eastern sovereign wealth fund or a French fashion conglomerate — they remain a little piece of old England.
About James Smith & Sons
James Smith & Sons was founded in 1830. Their current shop has been at New Oxford Street, London, since 1857. It is Europe's oldest umbrella shop. I don't suppose there are many competitors.
Think of a type of brolly, or walking stick, and they sell it. Most items are made in their workshop, with parts sourced from around Europe.
Buy the Right Size
You can buy solid wooden stick or metal tube-shafted umbrellas from James Smith.
The thicker solid stick umbrellas can be used for support, but can also be ordered to a particular length. The tube-shafted umbrellas gain on lightness and slimness, but have a standard length. You'll need one of each type. Obviously, go for the sterling silver lapband to put your initials on.
Here's the Plank Ash Solid with Silver Lapband:
The solid sticks are measured and cut according to your height.
Here's the Whangee Cane Crook, with needle end:
A classic British, slim city style. Steed's favourite.
The 'Bulgarian umbrella' used by the 'umbrella assassin' was probably adapted from a similar type of umbrella.
Unusual Canes and Walking Sticks
At times it may be useful carry a cane, if only to thrash footpads bartitsu-style. And if you're looking for something unusual in the stick/cane department —and we're hoping you are — James Smith & Sons supply made-to-order drinking sticks that hold two slim glasses and a flask. You can also choose a cane with a handle that untwists to become a corkscrew or a briarwood pipe. A cane with a pipe handle still available in Britain today — doesn't that make your heart sing?
I feel an umbrella song coming on. Rhianna? Come off it.