The worst part of the meteorologist calling for rain isn't remembering to bring your umbrella with you, but figuring out where you're going to put it once you bring it indoors covered in little droplets. We'll all go to great lengths to avoid creating our own slip 'n slides in the entryway.
Umbrella holders might have fallen out of fashion, but once upon a time, every average home had a designated place to store their umbrellas. So many have survived today that there's no need for a wet floor sign when you've found the perfect antique umbrella stand to bring a little character to your foyer.
Signs You've Got an Antique Umbrella Stand at Home
Umbrella stands are often antiques that end up on chat boards and forums where people ask the internet what on earth this random old thing was made for. That's because these stands don't have any consistent shape, size, pattern, or maker. Essentially, they're a bit of a nightmare for a regular ol' person to know for sure when they've got one.
However, with these old tools, it's much easier to know when you've got one based on matching it to what others look like. As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and for antique umbrella holders, it's the best thing we've got for a surefire identification technique.
Umbrella Stands: 1850s-1890s
While open vessels have been used as umbrella stands for centuries (since parasols, and later waterproof umbrellas, have been around for hundreds of years), mass-production of these tools didn't really start until the 1800s. By the 1880s, umbrellas had become a fixture of both womenswear and menswear, making them more than just a tool to keep the hot rays of sun off of your face or a damp mist off your clothes. They were as much of a fashion and social statement as they were a useful tool.
Most of the antique stands come from the Victorian period and are known for being made of cast iron and/or brass. Their shapes vary; some of them are made with sculptures of animals, while others use swirling filigree to create a petal-like effect around their rims. While you can find wooden stands from this era, metal fixtures were all the rage, and so they're much more common.
Two major types from this period include square stands and conical stands. The square stands had metal grids on top that doubled for holding both walking canes and umbrellas. The grid kept umbrellas upright and made them easy to grab on the fly. The other was the more basic, conical shaped stand that just kept umbrellas from falling on the floor.
Umbrella Stands: 1900s-1920s
During the early 20th century, people took one look at the gaudy, over-decorated style from a few years prior and said, "Not today." In the early aughts, umbrella stands, like all kinds of other furniture, shifted to be made from more natural materials. Wooden pieces became all the rage, and the arts and crafts and art nouveau style embraced this warm, simple direction that design took.
So, if you find stands made of thick woods or woven cane, then yours could definitely be from this era. Similarly, simple 'bucket' stands with decorative pictures painted around them were common.
Are Antique Umbrella Stands Worth Anything?
You might want to stop rubbing the muck off of your shoe on that old umbrella bucket you inherited from your grandmother when she downsized her house last year, because it's probably worth a few hundred dollars. On the whole, well-kept umbrella stands from the 19th and 20th centuries are worth about $100-$600 on average. This goes for the common, unmarked metal and wooden ones, but some do fall outside of this price range.
Since almost all the umbrella stands that've lasted 'til today are from the Victorian period at the earliest, any you might find from the 1700s or earlier would definitely be worth significantly more.
Stands made of fragile materials, like ceramic and porcelain, as well as precious metals, are worth more because it's harder for them to last so long in good condition. Take this painted, ceramic umbrella holder from the 1910s, for example. It's currently listed on Chairish for $1,800.
Whether you're looking to buy or sell, here's an idea of the kind of holders and prices you'll find:
- This simple oak and brass stand was made in the early 20th century, and thanks to its solid, but not really special, design, it's listed for $502.
- Something a little rarer from a famous designer or out of a valuable material would go for the low-thousands. For example, this gorgeous bent beechwood stand from Thonet's workshop is currently listed for $1,250.
Ways to Put an Antique Umbrella Holder to Use
Not everything has to be used literally, and while an antique umbrella holder does have a designated purpose, you can walk a little on the wild side and use it for something much more inventive. Depending on the type you have, here are some of the most creative ways to incorporate your umbrella holders into your modern décor.
- Set up a trellis. If you're not really partial to drilling a few holes into your holder, you can plant a few vines that'll grow from a small rod or trellis you leave inside the holder.
- Hide snacks and goodies, among other things. People are forever trying to find new places to hide things from their kids or pets, and this tall (and innocuous) decoration is a perfect place to hide your favorite snacks or even that set of keys you can't seem to keep track of.
- Use it to hold other items. Most people don't have more than one umbrella to their name (if that), so having an entire holder for it seems a bit wasteful. Thankfully, there's a ton of other things you can store in them: fishing rods, tennis rackets, tripod stands, and more.
Pair Your Umbrella Holders With the Perfect Antique Umbrella
Antique umbrella stands are beautiful pieces of furniture, but their allure is enhanced when they've got the proper kind of umbrella sprouting out of them. It might surprise you, but umbrellas have been around for hundreds of years, and were so well made that they've survived to today. Full of bright colors, patterns, and textures, these old umbrellas are perfect for your antique holder.
- Just looking at this warm mauve parasol circa 1890s makes you feel rich. It's got that lovely fringe trim, and the mother of pearl inlays were made to poke out of the top of your holder.
- You can't go wrong with the simplicity of a classic black umbrella. They're literally timeless, although this one was made in the 1900/10s. Its glittering gold handle would look great in a dark wooded antique umbrella holder.
- Brighten things up a bit with this poppy red and mint green floral parasol from the 1920s/1930s. Just because it's raining doesn't mean you can't bring a little sunshine around.
Save Them for a Rainy Day
As women have experienced for years, stuff that comes from the home are some of the most forgotten and undervalued things. Other than stereotypical furniture, antiques from the home don't inspire the same awe as a classic car or vintage dress. Yet, antique umbrella stands will be there for all kinds of rainy days - the wet ones and the money ones.