Once heralded as one of the stupidest inventions of all time, the umbrella hat, believe it or not, was originally invented sometime prior to the 1890’s by Seattle’s famed “Umbrella Man”, Robert W. Patten, a colourful local celebrity, famed for his eccentricities and wild stories of his early life. It was never intended to be anything more than a whimsical point of amusement — aside from the happy side effect of keeping rain off his head — and served as his personal signature. Sometime in the early 1900’s however, it appears the umbrella hat went into production, and enjoyed a brief surge of popularity as wealthy businessmen saw it as a convenient alternative to a traditional umbrella which managed to leave their hands free. Presumably for checking their early Blackberries.
It quickly died out, no doubt due to the fact that it looked absolutely ridiculous, and the idea lay dormant for the better part of a century, until it returned in the waning years of the 20th century. Originally, it was used by clowns as a part of their costume, but some clever marketers got ahold of the idea, and began selling them, festooned wildly with the logos from sports teams, to audiences in those teams’ associated stadia, so that those audience members could stay at least partially dry, and keep their hands free for swilling beer and gorging themselves on twenty-dollar hotdogs.
In researching tidbits of technology for AtomicToasters, it never ceases to amaze us how many brilliant inventions are actually modern re-creations of ancient machines. While we haven’t found proof so far, it wouldn’t surprise us to discover that the ancient Egyptians actually had primitive umbrella hats designed to keep them cool while listening to another of the Pharaoh’s lengthy speeches about the necessity for increased taxation on sand sales.