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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday I was in London and couldn't resist to get another umbrella!

I already had a James Smith & Sons hickory crook fit-up (i.e. two piece) umbrella that I got in January. This time I wanted a whangee or a solid (one piece) stick.

I examined the various whangee they have on offer since I wanted one for summer use. Unfortunately, I did not 'connect' with any of the whangee (it is a subjective wood, you either like it or loathe it and you need to really like the specimen to be satisfied). I could not make a choice I was satisfied with so I decided to pass Smith's and see what Brigg has to offer first.

When I got to Brigg, I decided to examine the oak one (I wanted a solid stick with a wood that would contrast my hickory). The salesperson brought one out and unfurled and opened it up *by shaking it* first which I found disconcerting (those in the know will know that to open an umbrella properly one must not shake it as the ribs of the frame could get damaged or disaligned, weakening the overall structure). Once it was opened and examined the canopy. There was an immediate difference between the Brigg and the Smith's; the former's canopy was rather flimsy as I flicked the edge to listen to the sound and test the tension; the latter's was much more taught and you could feel that when you opened the umbrella plus when you flick the edge you could hear a clear 'bung' instead of a 'thud'. I wasn't satisfied with it plus it was difficult to fasten the fastening cord. I passed it up.

I then returned to Smith's in the last few minutes before closing (it was a hell of a walk) and decided to settle on a solid stick polished maple one (given the typical British weather, I need all the strength I can get) with a silver lapband. I was handed the adjustable walking stick to test out the various lengths. 35" was the most comfortable length but the ferrule would look too stumpy. 36" (the length of my hickory) was too long I was advised. I told them to cut it to 35 1/2" which they did and it was whisked off down to the workshop (just in the nick of time before it closed) where it was cut and the metal cap ferrule was fitted.

Here are some pics of the said umbrella:








Amazingly, the umbrella is only a teeny weeny bit heavier than the fit-up. Also, the shaft is as thin as the fit up making the overall slenderness the same (one of the things that I dislike about solid stick is that they sometimes can be too thick and the elegance would be lost but this proves that it is possible to have a very slim solid stick). Very elegant and it was easier to furl and fasten than my hickory fit-up. Also, more sturdy and sound. I'll have fun struting it around town this week (it's bound to rain...)

My next umbrella would be a whangee one and I think I might try Fox of Moorgate since after sampling some of their whangees (dotted around in various shops) it has lead me to believe that they seem to have bagged all the best whangee (very slender, nicely curled, least amount of cracks, evenly spaced nodes, etc). The Brigg whangee is priced way too much to be touched even with a barge pole at these money pressing times IMHO.
 

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Very nice. Of course, I'm very biased, having the same brolly minus the silver band. :)

In my opinion, it's light and formal looking enough to be a viable umbrella regardless of outfit. For those of us with only a couple of umbrellas, that makes it a very versatile & cost-effective option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I could not do without the silver lapband. Somehow, it adds to the beauty of the wood by having a contrasting material to it (plus, initial engravement advantage).

I found Smith's malacca to be the most beautiful (and IMO the best in town with a wonderfully warm golden patternation) and I would have gotten one if one that I liked was available (some were too thick, and another was already cut to length.)

I'm trying to amass 4 umbrellas, one for every season. This one I have assigned as my winter umbrella and my hickory is assigned as my autumn one. I would get a whangee for summer and some other for spring (maybe malacca). Of course, I can use whichever whenever I please.
 

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I'm trying to amass 4 umbrellas, one for every season. This one I have assigned as my winter umbrella and my hickory is assigned as my autumn one. I would get a whangee for summer and some other for spring (maybe malacca). Of course, I can use whichever whenever I please.
I love the innate eccentricity of this concept. :aportnoy:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Do go and try them both out and see for yourself. I only tried one umbrella from Brigg so it isn't scientific (I would have tried more but the salesperson was off putting; I thought she might have bitten my head off after I said I wasn't going to buy after putting her through the trouble of fetching me the oak from the storeroom; would rather go through the online services in future).

I want to try out a Fox as well next time. From what I've read, they are/could be even strudier than Smiths'. But it seems they are more of an online enterprise so I might have to ask them to e-mail me pics of the whangee in their stock so I can select one to have the silver collar added on and engraved (they probably can't do this in their Moorgate shop).
 

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I had not been inside the Brigg store since 2007, when I wanted a leather briefcase but did have a look at the umbrellas; currently got my eye on the ostrich leather but they do not give online prices for silk canopy. As for Fox, I used to work near Moorgate Station but walked in the opposite direction, so never stopped in. I did consider going there but as I was working in Haymarket at the time, JS was walking distance during lunch (just about) and had more choices.
 
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