Ten Things You Didn’t Know: Walking Sticks & Canes


President George Washington used one, Oscar Wilde rarely went without one, and even TenThings_Walking-Canes-and-SticksQueen Victoria was seen with one a time or two. It’s all about the walking cane or stick, and here are ten things you may not know about them.

1 Richard Valentine Pitchford, also known as the 20th century master magician Cardini,

Cardini cane

This photograph of master magician Cardini, with his cane, appeared on the cover of Genii magazine Vol. 31 No. 11 (July, 1967). (Photo courtesy Pook & Pook).

was often seen with a gold-topped walking stick during his performances. The elaborately carved walking stick sold for $11,000 at Potter & Potter Auctions in April 2013.

2 Walking sticks and canes date back to prehistoric times – often believed to have a limited purpose of providing stability and protection. They were more often a representation of ones’ status in society and involvement in cultural organizations.

3 The American National Cane Club, founded in 1988, serves to unite carvers of walking sticks and canes. One of the group’s projects is making canes for military veterans. www.caneclub.org.

4 Most sticks and canes fall into one of three major categories: Folk art, city sticks, and gadget canes (sometimes called system canes or “secret sticks” as they include a space to hide or store something).

5 Material used to make walking sticks and canes include porcelain, hand carved wood, ivory, glass, bakelite, ebony, Wedgewood, narwhal tusk, and gems, among other things.

6 Famous folks noted for their appreciation of walking sticks and canes include Oscar

Snake cane

This early 20th century walking cane features a large spinach green nephrite snake’s head with ruby eyes as the handle, and carries a presale estimate of $7,000 to $9,000 heading into auction March 16, 2014. (Photo courtesy Kimball M. Sterling Inc.)

Wilde, President George Washington, King Henry VII, Queen Victoria, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

7 Popular books about walking sticks and canes include: “Canes in the United States: Illustrated Momentoes of American History 1607-1953,”Canes From the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century” and “American Folk Art Canes: Personal Sculpture.”

8 Often times one of the more popular aspects of canes is the distinctiveness of the handle (or the knob in the case of walking sticks). In fact, on March 16, 2014 Kimball M. Sterling Inc. will offer a Mid-West Cane Collection auction at their facility in Johnson City, Tenn. and online through LiveAuctioneers, featuring more than 100 canes, many with figural images on the knobs.

9 The most frequent type of walking cane handles are the tourist (inverted “J” shape), derby (appears in the shape of a wave), opera (inverted “L” shape), fritz (similar to a derby), offset (in the shape of the number 7), T shape, and the knob (round shaped handle).

10 During the archeological study of Egyptian Pharaoh King Tutankhamun’s tomb researchers found 130 walking sticks and canes inside.

Sources: www.canesandwalkers.com; www.antiquecaneworld.com; www.walkingstickworld.com; www.rauantiques.com; www.examiner.com

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