A toad buying an umbrella, c 1845.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Print entitled 'Pray Sir have you a cheap cotton umbrella? Something lighter than mine, about 4/6'. Satirising the popular demand for umbrellas, a toad holding a toadstool is illustrated going into a shop to purchase an umbrella from a shocked shopkeeper. Visible behind the counter are hats, sticks, umbrellas and rackets. In the doorway a woman is seen protecting herself from the rain with her own umbrella. Umbrellas were in use in the ancient world as a protection from the sun, but were later popularised in England by Joseph Hanway as a protection against rain. The first umbrella shop, called James Smith & Sons, was opened in 1830 at 53 New Oxford Street in London. Umbrellas were made of wood or whalebone, until Samuel Fox invented the steel ribbed umbrella design in 1852.