An "umbrella hat" is an umbrella canopy attached to a headband that functions as a protection against the rain or sun. It is seen as a novelty item.
Umbrella hats have a typical umbrella canopy, with ribs supporting a fabric or plastic covering. This canopy is connected to a headband via four short shafts on every other rib to keep the canopy over the head. The canopy is generally collapsable, with the ribs and fabric collapsing around the headband shafts, much like a typical umbrella. Umbrella hats can come in a wide array of colors, and sizes, including national flags like the British Flag.
In December 1880, there was a patent taken out on the umbrella hat, patent 250,803.
Robert W. Patten claimed that he invented the umbrella hat while he was prospecting in Mexico. His original hat also included a mosquito net attached to the canopy. Patten moved to Seattle in the 1890s and was dubbed the Umbrella Man. He then became a repairman for umbrellas, and inspired a cartoon from John Hager, depicting Robert Patten with his umbrella hat. Patten was seen as eccentric, and Hager's cartoons of him were comic.
Today, the umbrella hat has advanced considerably. It is often associated as a cheap and comical novelty item, but it can be used to shield a person against rain or sunshine hands-free. Umbrella Hats are particularly useful to wheelchair bound people who need the use of both hands in the rain. It is also useful for gardeners, cyclists, walkers, shoppers, hunters, fishers and general manual labourers.
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- Paul Dorpat, "Now and Then: The Umbrella Man," The Seattle Times, Pacific Northwest Magazine, April 5, 1998.