Essential 1920s Beach Accessory – The Parasol

People in the 1920s were fond of the exotic, and so it is no surprise that a popular sun shade was theJapanese paper parasol.  It seems a bit risky to take a fragile paper item to the beach where it would be threatened by wind and water.  Maybe that is why so many of the ones found today are ripped and faded.

I found this one at an antique mall along with several others, all deadstock, never used.  I can’t say that it is from the 1920s, as these are still being made today (but probably in China).  Anyway, I loved the colors and design of this one, regardless of the age.

It structure of the parasol is entirely bamboo.

Two of these 1920s women have paper parasols.  I also love the bathing cap and shoes and beach pyjamas on the woman on the right.  I have no idea where this photo was taken, but note the US flag flying.  The sign on the building reads “Rooms, Tents, Cottages”.  Any ideas as to where?  There seems to be a fairly large hillside directly behind the beach, so that rules out a great deal of the east coast.

This ad for Lux laundry soap is from 1923.

To see it in the round, here is a vine.


Filed under Collecting, Summer Sports

24 responses to “Essential 1920s Beach Accessory – The Parasol

  1. This one is gorgeous! I have to look for such parasol 🙂


  2. LOVE this blog post!! I have a biodegradable recycled material parasol that I walk around with pride!! Okay, so I avoid the sun like the plague…. no, I’m not a vampire, but my father has had skin cancer and to be honest I look silly tan. I like my pale skin with dark brown hair. Women who walk around with a parasol (or umbrella used as one seem to get odd looks). I know I did the last time I used mine (last October when I visited friends in St. Maartin, but that plus slathering myself with sunscreen left me as pale as when I left, and we went out daily. 🙂


  3. I have a lovely photo of my grandmother in the 1920’s with a parasol on the beach. I must find it and post it. She looks so exotic even though it was in Britain!


  4. Hmmmm, if I knew how, I’d post me w/my parasol. I certainly don’t look exotic 🙂


  5. Fab post! And what a wonderful parasol you found! I used to collect them, but have pared down my collection quite a bit. I simply adore them!

    One of my friends has one with coastal imagery and reads “Nagasaki” across half of it in wonderful script.


  6. Teresa

    Such a beautiful parasol!


  7. The unbrellas are very colorful and pretty….but impracticle to say the least. They remind me of the tiny ones you get in drinks. In fact, I can not believe the big ones were taken to the beach to wether the wind, sand and water.

    The two gals in full dress in the Lux photo seemed a bit overdressed for the beach…was that a typical beach scene…do you think?

    The article was interesting…showing how much beach scenes have changed since the 1920’s…Makes me wonder if the pendulum will ever swing back.


  8. Oh what a pretty paper umbrella! Love the design and colors! I have one from a childhood visit to EPCOT (Japanese section) but it doesn’t have the beautiful bamboo handle yours does.

    There is often a box of solid color paper umbrellas on the wardrobe trailer when I’m working on a show. We use them to shade the actors between takes (when filming outside) and they are nice and lightweight.


  9. So beautiful. Makes me want to visit Chinatown!


  10. Wow, that’s beautiful! Love the vibrant colours.

    It was a real late ’70s/ early ’80s thing (or maybe it was just me) to prop a parasol in front of a lamp for a moody, mellow lighting effect. I think I had a couple of parasols from that era in earthy tone/oranges but they’ve all bitten the dust now. Thanks for jogging my memory.


  11. Absolutely gorgeous!


  12. I too have a grandma as flapper photo with umbrella and wearing a kimono on a Pacific board walk (now where to find it?). Another thing: I am seeing new parasols being sold at outdoor fleas, and women are using them more often when walking out in the sun, it’s so pretty.
    Photo location? Well, it might be the north part of Santa Monica where the palisade cliffs open up at the mouth of the little Santa Monica canyon. In early 20th c. photos, that sort of hillside is visible and random buildings were built there at sand level while the original coast highway drove by. Here’s a time travel rabbit hole to fall down:


  13. Pingback: Ad Campaign – Moygashel Linen, 1949 | The Vintage Traveler

  14. I too love the vibrant colors of the parasols. I have been seeing more and more people carrying umbrellas in the summer here in Ann Arbor. Usually it is Asian students. I always think it’s a great idea, but I’m too lazy and don’t feel like I could juggle holding one more thing my my hand…I would likely make an effort if I found something as lovely and vintage as yours! Love your blog.


  15. After reading your post, I wondered if the parasol fashion made it’s way to the midwest/Lake Michigan, so I googled it. This is what I found:


  16. seaside

    Yes! Maybe the photo was taken at a lake; the sand looks kind of clumpy for the seashore. It’s a charming photo.


  17. I saw a couple of 20s parasols for sale over the weekend. I wish I’d got one now. Yours is gorgeous whatever age it is. Xxx


  18. I make hand painted parasols myself, they sell pretty well! I order plain white rice paper ones, with bamboo handles and then paint them. Sometimes I just go with a flower and bird scene, other times I have painted pin-up models on them. ❤ I adore parasols.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.