Author: Jadon


Walking cane, as an actual phrase for

a type of walking sticks was not in

existence until the sixteenth century.

Through the ages, step by step, it evolved

from a simple tool to become the symbol of

power, prestige, wealth and the external denotation

of one’ social status. Up until then,

walking sticks had been used for centuries,

originally as an aid for travelling over uneven

ground, also as a defensive weapon.

Nevertheless nowadays walking canes are

more likely to appear in collectors and tradition

keepers’ closets, some of us might be

wondering how a simple tool became a meaningful

object, keeping its value through history.

Rulers of many cultures, past and present,

have carried some form of walking stick

or staff. In ancient Egypt, both the Pharaohs

and the common men used the stick or staff

for decoration, support and status, even the

Egyptian Gods were illustrated with staffs in

their hands. The popular sticks were varying

from three to six feet in length and were often

topped by an ornamental knob in the shape

of a lotus, a symbol of long life. The staffs’

importance carried along with cultures and

nations, until in the Middle Ages, a new form,

a sceptre, became popular. The spectre is a

staff or wand held in the hand by ruling a monarch,

as an item of royal or imperial insignia.

Figuratively, it means a royal or imperial

authority or sovereignty. With the appearance

of the spectre, sticks and staffs mainly

turned into tools to support walking again

besides used as ceremonial batons for

hundreds of years, until in the sixteenth

century the walking cane, a more sophisticated

and fashionable version of sticks,

popped up. In Victorian England, walking

cane was not only a must-have accessory

for a man, as its wearing was ruled by the

national etiquette, but it became a high-fashion

item and the symbol of status. Every

fashionable victorian man had to carry his

walking cane made from fi ne wood with

shiny silver or gold handle. At this time,

a cane and a stick or staff was two completely

different item – the walking cane was

a fashion accessory, while the walking stick

as a stable and massive tool was an aid for


The classic walking cane consisted of three

parts: the handle, the shaft, and the two

ferrules, one between the handle and the

shaft to support the cane and conceal the

juncture where the two meet, and one, at

the bottom of the stick, to prevent wear

of the shaft and to prevent splitting. The

most favoured material for the shaft was

wood, but canes were made from ivory,

bone, horn, and even glass too. Almost any

kind of wood could be used, like chestnut,

ebony, or beech, but naturally, the more

expensive the wood was, the more valuable

the cane was too. For example, the

Irish blackthorn is a slow-growing

wood that must be cut in parts and

set aside for years to harden before it

can be fashioned into a walking stick.

Besides exotic bamboo canes, the

Irish blackthorn was one of the most

wished canes by the wealthy men.

The adornment of the cane, the

handle, could be quite various from

the clear, minimalistic designs to the

very detailed knobs and animal head

designs. In case of its material, silver,

gold and ivory were likely used.

The wealthier men commonly asked

for diamonds and other gemstones

from the makers to decorate their

walking canes. The more unique

and expensive materials were used

for the canes, the more wealthy and

powerful impression they gave to

their owner. The daytime canes were

more diverse and adorned than the

evening ones; during evening events

the gentlemen had to carry a shorter,

narrower, lighter and less decorated

cane with themselves. These walking

canes were usually made from ebony

with silver or gold knobs. During

the eighteenth century in the military

some of the canes were hidden

„sword sticks”, and later in the nineteenth

and twentieth centuries, it

became highly fashionable to have

canes with secret features like containing

small items, weapons, cosmetic

compacts or silverware.

In between the seventeenth and nineteenth

centuries, the walking canes

were fashionable items for women

too. The signifi cant difference was

compared to the gentlemen’s canes

that the lady walking canes were lighter,

softer, and usually were decorated

with tassels, ribbons and gilding.

Furthermore, women didn’t have

to carry a walking cane, whilst men

were commanded and ruled by the

etiquette to carry it. Those gentlemen

who did not carry a walking cane appeared

to be rude, moreover, one was

not supposed to carry a walking stick

under the arm, nor lean on it. Canes

were also not to be used on Sundays

or holidays, nor brought on a visit to

a dignitary or member of the royal

family, given the cane’s connotation

of authority and rank and its capacity

to hide a weapon.

During the almost two hundred years

of prevail of the walking canes, they

appeared and were more or less relevant

fashion accessories or tools for

the authority all around the world.

In Europe, until the nineteenth-century

canes were the ultimate symbols

of status, but as the lines started to

fade between the different classes the

symbolic power of the walking canes

also faded. At the end of the century,

the usage of the classic walking canes

became ordinary and the popularity

of orthopaedic or other aid sticks peaked.

Although, walking canes are

produced in a wide range, both in

mass production and by cane making

masters until today, the meaning is

different. These are optional accessories,

mainly carried by tradition keepers

and bespoke lover gentlemen

and ladies. According to the current

prices, the canes still more available

for the elite. The price of today’s

premium walking canes and sticks is

commonly moving between 300 and

4000 euros, but the antique or very

rare and unique pieces can peak up

to 15000 euros on average.