People like to collect many different things. Walking cane collections were pupular many years ago. And today they are worth of our attention.
In centuries past, well-heeled gentlemen, and ladies too, were seldom seen without a walking stick in hand. Unlike today, canes of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, often boasting handles of precious metals and jewels, served as symbols of wealth, power and social stature. They were much more a fashion accessory than walking aide.
Of course, the dictates of society have changed drastically since then and the fashionable engagements that filled the days of the well-to-do are far less stringent. Today, canes are more utilitarian in nature and are used primarily as an aid for getting around.
They generally lack the attention to aesthetic beauty that once dominated their manufacture. Yet despite their decline on the fashion scene, the walking stick is enjoying an extraordinary resurgence in popularity among collectors who have become fascinated with the history, workmanship and hidden treasures found in them.
While it is impossible to expound on all of the fascinations of antique canes and cane collection in such a limited space, the following is a brief overview of walking sticks along with a few hints on building a collection and a list of helpful reference materials.
Displaying your cane collection is a matter of personal taste. A small collection can be attractively displayed in something as simple as an umbrella stand. There are many stands specifically made to display canes and they can vary greatly in shape and price. Wall racks also make attractive displays.
Porcelain, glass, enamel and jewelled canes should be displayed carefully so as not to allow them to bump one another. Many a fine cane has been damaged due to a careless display. As a dealer in important and rare canes, I carry an extensive selection of display cases that allow for safe and handsome displays.
Building any kind of fine antique collection is a highly personal endeavor and whichever road you choose to follow, if you adhere to the premise of quality over quantity you will be well on your way to amassing a valuable collection. Collections of any kind that hold superior value and importance are those whose pieces were selected primarily for their quality, rarity or provenance and secondly for their price.
Generally, decorative canes of exceptional beauty or complete system canes bring a higher price than those with damage or those that are incomplete. The exception will lie with canes made of exotic and rare materials or with those that carry with them a special provenance.
As a rule, it is always advisable to buy from a respected dealer. If you find a cane, shake it and listen, there could be a treasure inside and unexpected finds are always the best and most memorable. But beware. Reproductions abound and unscrupulous dealers will try to pass them off as authentic.