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Walking Sticks, Canes and Staffs – History, and Evolution

Walking Sticks Collection by CaneDaddy
📷 Credit : CaneDaddy – instagram.com/markdwyercollection

Swords to Walking Sticks

Travelers and shepherds had walking sticks as a tool. It helps to defend against the thieves and disciplining animals to keep in line. As the class of people could only use the swords the other class used walking sticks. Thus it was considered the alternate for the sword. Over time, a walking stick was called as a symbol of power strength. Eventually, the authorized people started using it.

From Support till Show-off

A walking stick is mainly used as an aid for walking, providing stability, maintenance for a good posture, or sometimes for self-defense. Gradually when people started recognizing it as the symbol of strength it was not just a piece of walking aid but also an ornament signifying the economic strength of the background the person belongs to. Canes were associated with the male psyche and power. Rulers carried specters, Black Rod carries a rod, Merlin’s wand Mosses used the staff. Egyptian rulers were assumed to carry staffs which were of three to six feet long. To symbolize the owning sticks people ornamented it with a knob for example; lotus-shaped symbolizing long life.

Canes Fashion era of Walking Sticks

A becoming tool for fashion the walking sticks were termed as canes. This started the manufacturing difference between canes and sticks. When the sticks were made up of ivory, whalebone, ebony and other woods, the canes were made up of Malacca or rattan bamboo or other hardy reeds. Quality of canes started representing social status and wealth.

Medieval Times Walking Sticks

In Europe, the right-hand specter was the royal power representative while the left hand was the representation of justice. Churches adopted staffs as to denote their higher offices. Crooked staff with a hook was held by bishops to make up for his role as shaped to his congregation. Word cane wasn’t used until the late sixteenth century. When wood was an exotic item and shafts were made using bamboo and other tropical grasses.

The sixteenth century

After years the daily fashionable, trendy, sophistication attire was to holding a cane. The most common was the ivory handled Malacca cane, a wooden cane. The wood came straight from the Strait of Malacca, Malaysia. Britain’s exotic wood was the cost of the moon piece. The cane’s brass ferrules prevented the canes to be dunked in the mud. And the ivory and silver pique work made up the handles of the canes.

Antique malacca cane stick with silver collar, possibly Edward Barnard and carved bone handle circa 1860
📷 Credit : M Patrick Duke – instagram.com/giltandgesso

During the end of 16th century, canes were the piece of dignification everyone should have, and the one who does not have it was the one who was violating the new rules of good manners as walking with the canes were included as one of the rules of etiquette formed during this time.

Seventeenth century : licensed canes

Walking around with the canes was now not easy, one had to have the license for owning it. Every gentleman to showoff their privileges and the efficacy had to own a cane and therefore abide by the license’s rules for it. Even though the wood was the same but the gold and the decorative tassels made the men and the canes being dandified. One could find them in the Gainsborough and Victorian age and even during the Industrial revolution portraits, where the men would pose with the canes.

Functional and fantastic canes.

Pool sticks, sword, hidden compartments, rifles, etc. were popular for the collectors. Canes also came with additional features such as for defense, for example, the mace the click on the button. Not only natural but also manmade substances were modelized for the handles. Umbrella or automaton canes such as in form of duck, head, or a bulldog interestingly designed such that mouth would open to provide gloves in the opera. Idiosyncratic handles started increasingly popping in the trend line. Carving handles, animal heads such as mice, eagles, and various dog breeds had been taken into the account for the handles. Various decorative items such as jade or amber where the exotic materials for canes. Art Deco period was when many factories were opened all over Europe: London, Paris, and Vienna.

From rich to poor

The collection of many decorative beautiful accessorized canes was the display for the newly rich middle class. Rustic canes, ash made stout wood canes, walking dog canes, sober office canes were few of the necessities. The wood of cane would reflect you. A duke richness in the ebony cane would not be the same as the peasants who carve their own cane and with country illustrations such as shooting, fishing, and hunting. Sailors used the whalebone, with whale teeth for the handles. From ebony to ivory al were constructed to the canes. All authority figures such as kings, priests, judges, and military commanders represented themselves with the unique different walking sticks to show their power of authorization.  In the late of this century, the Puritans carried the oak sticks.

Improvisation of the cane cause

We're celebrating White Cane Day today at the Blind Children's Center! White Cane Safety Day has been observed annually in the United States since 1964 and celebrates the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired using the symbol of the white cane, an important tool for independence. Check the educational activities that our students, both visually impaired and sighted, participated in together today on our story!
📷 Credit : Blind Children’s Center – instagram.com/blindchildrenscenter

The white cane significance of the independence or the symbol of sight impaired citizens. Between the two world wars, the white cane originated by James Biggs of Bristol in 1921 when after losing sight, when he was being threatened by traffic near his home he painted his cane white so that it is more visible to the motorbikers on the road about the blind man. Later of ten years, France started a movement of white sticks for the sight impaired people. Suggested by the British broadcasting company they gave out white sticks to the sight impaired people in the same year. And thus it was the element of symbolizing the sight impaired or blind people around the world. North American Lions club made up the same event. Finding a way in the government policy the white canes became to be changed to the “long canes” discovered by Richard Hoover for the better functionality in the lifestyle for the blind people, providing them privileges and protections for holding them. Since congress declared a National White Cane Safety Day to promote the use of a white cane for the visually impaired people it has to seem to taken place for that cause all around the world.  

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