A very light portable canopy, of a circular form, framed of radiating ribs of whalebone, or other suitable material covered with silk or cloth, and supported by a central staff over the heads of persons, to defend them from rain, or the scorching of the sun's rays. These well-known convenient machines have received but little improvement in their construction since their introduction into this country from the East, where they have been in use from time immemorial. British manufacturers have, however, by a series of trifling ameliorations, contrived to reduce the weight of them considerably; to give them more elegance of form, and a more perfect and durable action, considering their slender substance, and the delicate materials of which they are made, than they had previously attained: and all these ameliorations have been effected, together with a reduction of cost equal to fifty per cent.
Our readers will have noticed, that in umbrella frames of the usual construction, the ends of the whalebone are connected to the top of the umbrella by means of a ring of wire, and that the ends of the stretchers are in like manner jointed to theslidihg-tube, which is evidently a very unmechanical arrangement, however cheap and easy of execution it may be; for the axes upon which these parts turn, instead of being straight lines, are the arcs of a circle, by which the friction is so excessive and unequal, as to insure the speedy destruction of these essential parts, and an early dismemberment of the whole machine. In old frames, it will likewise be noticed that the stretchers are connected to the middle of each whalebone by pins passing through the latter; the holes for these pins of course weaken the whalebones exceedingly, and the subsequent wear of these parts reduces their thickness so much, that they are frequently breaking; and the repairs required, from one cause or another, are the source of much inconvenience in rainy weather.
To obviate these defects, each whalebone in Mr. Caney's patent umbrellas is connected to the top by separate straight axes, and in such a manner, that they cannot shift themselves out of their places; the stretchers on the sliding-tube are connected in the same way to the sliding-tubes; and the stretchers are jointed to the whalebones without perforating the latter, as will be understood upon reference to the annexed figures: wherein Fig. 1 shows one of the ends, a of the whalebones, b the ferrule on it, with a pin c passing through its jointed end. Fig. 2 shows a plan of the brass plate, - d being a plate to which the whalebones are jointed; e is the aperture through which the umbrella stick passes; c c denote the pins or axes passing through the joints, and lying imbedded in cavities in the plate, wherein they are confined by the screws of the top brass-plate, shown by Fig. 3. The stretchers being jointed to the sliding-tube in the same manner as before mentioned, need no illustration. Fig. 4 a is one of the eight radiating whalebones; h a ferrule made by the doubling of sheet brass around it, to receive the pin or axis of the stretcher g, without impairing the whalebone; and the manner of doing this is shown in the transverse section in Fig 5, in which the same letters of reference indicate similar parts as are already described.
The construction of Mr. Deacon's patent umbrella is in some respects similar to Mr. Caney's. The ends of the ribs in the former have dovetailed caps, these dovetails entering recesses or notches in a cap, wherein they are confined by a plate, which is screwed down upon the whole. Instead of solid sticks, Mr. Deacon makes them of metal, hollow, and covers them with cloth varnished over, or with a coating of papier mache, impressed with ornamental designs. These coverings to the metal are intended to prevent the unpleasant and destructive effects of oxidation of the metal.
A patent was also recently taken out by Mr. J. G. Hancock, of Birmingham, for making light elastic rods for umbrellas, whips, etc, in the following manner. Willow rods of a suitable length have the pith contained in them bored out, and in its place are put metallic wires or rods. The wooden exteriors are then reduced, by planes or other suitable tools, to the required shape; afterwards, they are coloured and varnished, to give them the appearar.ee of whalebone. One end of the rods is capped with metal tips, the other end has the wires extending a little beyond the wooden cases, which are flattened and drilled to receive the wires that fasten them to the handles, and forms the joint on which they turn. Numerous other patents have been taken out for improvements in umbrellas, chiefly by the Birmingham manufacturers, for the metallic portion of the apparatus, termed the "furniture," and the extremely low price at which it is manufactured, is a matter of astonishment to those who are unacquainted with the facilities of the workshops.