Cazal Parasol - French Antique Parasol



Antique Parasol
1837 Fashion Print Featuring a Cazal Parasol

“The Sunshade, like a rosy vapour, attenuates and softens the contour of the features, revives the vanished tints, surrounds the physiognomy with its diaphanous reflections…. Under its rosy or azure dome, sentiment buds, passion broods or blossoms; at a distance the Sunshade calls and rallies to its colors, near at hand it edifies the curious eye, and disconcerts and repels presumption. How many sweet smiles have played under its corolla! How many charming signs of the head, how many intoxicating and magic looks, has the Sunshade protected from jealousy and indiscretion! How many emotions, how many dramas, has it hidden with its cloud of silk!"

[From: “Essai historique, anecdotique sur le parapluie, l'ombrelle et la canne et sur leur fabrication,” M.Cazal.]


M. Cazal was a renowned French manufacturer of parasols, which are also referred to as umbrellas and sunshades. France was considered the “pre-eminent” designer of umbrellas and parasols and Cazal earned various awards at exhibitions of 1839, 1844, 1855, including the Great Exhibition in London. He patented a spring for parasols in France in 1839; these are found in most Cazal parasols.

Cazal was a parasol maker by appointment to Louis Philippe's queen and subsequently to Napoleon III's empress Eugénie. In 1844 he wrote a small book, “Essai historique, anecdotique sur le parapluie, l'ombrelle et la canne et sur leur fabrication” (Historical and Anecdotal Essay on the Umbrella, Parasol and Walking-stick, and their Manufacture).

Antique Parasol

This marvelous antique parasol is a French mid-19th century lady's carriage (folding) parasol with an ivory silk cover and matching silk fringe and tassel. The bowl of the parasol tilts and the handle is hand-carved ivory in a snake and leaf design. The metal joint is stamped with floral decoration and the inscription: "CAZAL...PARIS...27 BOULEVART DES ITALIENS."


Parasols began to appear as a fashion accessory abundantly in ladies’ magazines from 1815 to 1830s. From year to year, from season to season, the variations in covers introduced into the decoration of ladies' parasols included colored crape, damasked satin, silk striped or figured; others enriched with blonde or lace, embroidered with glass-trinkets, or garnished with marabou feathers, with gold and silver lace, or silk trimming. Before 1815, Paris had no great manufacturer of parasols; but from 1808 to 1851 alone, it was reported that there were over a hundred patents for inventions and improvements relating to umbrellas and sunshades. In his essay on parasols, Cazal lists some of the most extravagant patents:

  1. A patent for invention of an umbrella walking-stick with a field-glass
  2. A patent for invention of umbrellas and sunshades combined with walking-sticks, shutting up in a copper case, in the form of a telescope
  3. A patent for invention of an umbrella walking-stick, containing diverse objects for writing or other purposes, and called “Universal Walking-Stick”
  4. A patent for invention of methods of manufacturing umbrellas and sunshades, opening of themselves, by means of a mechanism placed inside the handle
  5. A patent for an umbrella walking-stick, of which the sheath may be folded at pleasure, and carried in the pocket.
Antique Parasol
1858 Fashion Print Featuring a Cazal Parasol

Cazal’s tasteful designs, the sharp and excellent carving of the ivory handles, the artistic grouping of the colors of the various silks used in the manufacture of parasols, and the supple dressing of the silks for umbrellas, gave the French manufacturer a decided superiority. Added to which, the frames were much lighter and neater than those made in England.

In the 1851 Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, M. Cazal received the Prize Medal For Parasols and Umbrellas elegant in form and of excellent workmanship. Cazal’s carved ivory handles were said to “evince much taste and are well sculptured.” The framing was "very light and presented novelties of construction." At this exhibition, Cazal also featured canes made of rhinoceros horn, white whalebone, and conglomerated horn.

Antique Parasol
1858 Fashion Print Featuring a Cazal Parasol

In 1839, “Galignani’s New Paris Guide” lists a Cazal shop at No. 10, Boulevard Montmartre under the heading of Parasols and Umbrellas. In the 1840s, the Cazal shop was located on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris. In 1858, Le Moniteur de la Mode describes the Cazalie, the newest umbrella of Cazal at 27 Boulevard des Italiens, as the “preferred model of all our great ladies” featuring carefully crafted inlaid handles. This is the address engraved on the parasol in the photo. In his guide, “How to Enjoy Paris” in 1842, Francis Hervé fawned over the French establishment:


"Whilst dilating upon different inventions which either contribute to comfort or convenience, I must not omit that of M. Cazal, who has obtained two patents, and medals for the umbrellas and parasols he has invented, with which he furnishes the Queen and Princesses, and which are entirely superseding all those of any other construction.… His establishment is No. 23, Boulevard Italien, where there is always some one in attendance who speaks English."

1858 Advertisement for Cazal Parasol