James Smith & Sons Ltd

London, United Kingdom | C.1830

Photo Credit: Eric Reichbaum

Like the many unique walking sticks and handles that grace the store’s umbrella bins, James Smith & Sons’s long success is owed to not one personality, but to many. The first James Smith founded the shop in 1830, housing a small workshop and showroom in London’s West End. Taking over for his father, James Smith II would see the business grow spectacularly when he employed lightweight steel frames to his umbrellas—a new invention from fellow Londoner Samuel Fox in 1851. As umbrella usage grew in popularity, so too did the Smith & Sons empire, birthing its present day location on New Oxford St.

Along with fine umbrellas, Smith & Sons produced multiple varieties of canes and walking sticks for their clientele—including some that had a hidden surprise. Known as “dagger canes” or “sword sticks,” it was fashionable to have a small sword concealed in one’s cane. These types of walking sticks were sold all the way up to 1988 when they were banned in Britain.

Each piece at the shop is connected to generations of umbrella-users and makers, with an umbrella from James Smith & Sons being something one’s grandparents could have purchased, items that continue to be in vogue. We’re okay, however, with sword sticks falling out of fashion.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

One thought on “James Smith & Sons Ltd

  1. says:
    August 8, 2023

    I cannot think of a better place in the world to buy an umbrella, let alone this aesthetic. I would be there enjoying every-single-second.

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