pointy umbrellas
June 7, 2005 12:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find if there's a reason why umbrellas have big spikes at the end opposite the handle.

I realise these are maybe a little old-fashioned, as there are lots of non-spiked umbrellas, but I want to know if the spike ever served a practical purpose.
posted by bunglin jones to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
It might be for self defense.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:32 AM on June 7, 2005

I always thought it was designed for use as a walking stick on wet or muddy ground. Also, I thought it would be useful for cleaning mud from the bottoms of your shoes as you leave the rain and go inside.
posted by mokujin at 12:41 AM on June 7, 2005

Seriously though, I think it's there to keep the wood from splitting.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:52 AM on June 7, 2005

I was thinking along the lines of mokujin -- it was a convenience added so that it would reach the ground and would double as a kind of walking stick.
posted by peacay at 1:07 AM on June 7, 2005

Thirding the walking stick idea. A spike is easier to wedge into the dirt or between cobblestones, which would help tremendously on slippery rained-upon ground.
posted by cmyk at 2:17 AM on June 7, 2005

They have been used for assassinating Bulgarian dissidents...
posted by derbs at 3:13 AM on June 7, 2005

considering lots of old fashioned umbrellas also have cane-type handles, I think the walking stick is yr answer.

A lot of martial arts do have cane forms & techniques, tho', so the side effect of making the umbrella more effective as a weapon will be useful for some part-time ninjas...
posted by mdn at 5:16 AM on June 7, 2005

Lightning rod.

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:43 AM on June 7, 2005

The walking-stick notion is supported by the fact that compact umbrellas do not have these extensions.
posted by alms at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2005

I would vote for a way to keep wood from splitting as it gets wet (in the rain, duh) and expands. From that point on it became an element that large umbrellas were expected to have.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 11:29 PM on June 7, 2005

Seems logical that considering the nature of most roads and walking paths from 'some time ago', that mud and moisture were fairly omnipresent. Probably fathomable that a walk to the pub or church was a muddy affair, and umbrellas were kept outside or at least in an area where water run-off was a factor. The steel ribbing has to have a tip. That tip can't be wood, as the moisture would rot through it, and split it. All that water draining off of other umbrellas must have made someone think, "hmm....better make the tip out of something other than wood."

I'll bet there's some insight to be gained from here.
posted by ValveAnnex at 10:34 PM on June 9, 2005

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