gallery news & events

Five Boys - The Story of a picture at Harrow School

For 70 years, this famous picture of five boys has been used to tell the same story - of inequality, class division, “toffs and toughs”. But what was the story behind it? We came across this web site which explains it all:
The rather over dressed boys on the left are from Harrow school, where dressed in tail coats and top hats, and carrying a walking cane. The boys at Harrow school today still carry walking canes on formal occassions, and of course famously have Sir Winston Churchill, currently much in the news as an Old Boy! (see further feature item on Churchill below)

Victorian stage actor of the Day, Sir Henry Irving 1838 - 1905

Sir Henry Irving - and man's best friend, a 19th century portrait photograph of Irving with his dog, who is loyally carrying his walking cane

The Bard of Avon - William Shakespeare

This is a beautiful example of a Victorian hand carved ivory cane, modelled as William Shakespeare. With age it has developed a fine golden patina, sometimes associated with much use; note the small dot on the top of his head, being the ivory nerve which runs through the tusk. The cane is simply mounted with a silver ringed style collar onto a brown stepped malacca shaft. This is a partularly fine example of a subject often seen in all types of decorative arts, and presumably would have been carried by an admirer or "fan" of the great playwright and poet

Victorian "saucy" Emma Stone cigarette cards

Amusingly these two cigarette cards of a Victorian Lady in her underclothes would have be considered very "saucy" in their day - rather charmingly the Lady in question has lost ther outer garments - but not her cane

new & rare subjects are always of interest to collectors

Here is an example of just such a cane, the subject being the head of a Maori New Zealand Warrior. The head is inset with small glass eyes, and the ivory is carved overall with typical facial markings. Unusually the handle is carved and inscribed below the chin in black ink, "To Mary", which perhaps could be that the item was gifted upon return from a Grand Tour to a loved one. It is fitted to a malacca shaft with a slim dark horn band style collar and with further eyelets for silk cord

The Surrealist master... and walking cane collector!

This artist needs no introduction... perhaps of all the 20th century modern artists, Salvador Dali, (1904 - 1989) was the one artist known for "wearing" a walking cane as a fashion and decorative accessory. He is thought to have had quite a collection, however sadly few have ever come to light.. Seen here with is trademark mustache and with different walking canes..

Captain Gabriel Maturin by John Singleton Copley - American portrait artist

An exceptional American portrait by John Singleton Copley (1737 - 1815) of Captain Gabriel Maturin, painted in 1771
By the time John Singleton Copley came to New York in 1771 he was the most successful portrait painter ever seen in the American colonies. Having produced commissions for some of the wealthiest and most respected residents of Massachusetts, Copley was enjoying a sufficient living and wide acclaim. In this portrait Maturin is seen holding in his left hand a very fine hammered gold handled walking cane with a raised crested decoration on the side. The cane also has a black silk rope tie just visible below the hand.. This fine example is beautifully complimented in the overall desing of the painting with the matching elements of gold braid to the outter jacket, gilted buttonsm and the polished brass of the the cannon which the sitter is leaning on..

Cezanne & the Modern exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford

This exceptional portrait titled The Woman in a Round Hat, by Edouard Manet, the French impressionist painter, formed part of the recent exhibition titled Cezanne & The Modern at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The portrait was was painted in Paris and completed in 1877.. It was created at a peak time for canes and parasols being used as a fashion item in stylish Paris, and this painting not only shows an attractive example, but more shows of the Joie de Vivre of that time, when such style and elegance was the aspiration....

an interesting decorated staff in portraiture

..recently seen at auction in England this unusual portrait of Sir John Trelawny of Pelynt, The 1st. Baronet (1592 - 1662), painted by a follwer of Gilbert Jackson (Fl. 1622 - 1640). It shows the sitter with a very unusual staff or cane, from an early period when most canes were used as outward signs of the position of Office of the wearer... This cane is particulary interesting as it appears to be decorated overall with decoration very similar to Penwork, a method of decoration used extensively on Englaish domestic folk art canes.. We sadly cannot identify the designs on the portrait, however, can assume that they were of high quality to compliment the sitters status! The man in question was the High Sheriff of Cornwall on the South Coast of England, in 1630 and the baronetcy was bestowed upon him after his support of King Charles I following a dispute between the Crown and two treacherous MPs, William Coryton & Sir John Eliot. His brief imprisonment in the Tower of London is believed to have been the inspiration for the Cornish cry of `And shall Trelawny die?`, used by Robert Stephen Hawker in his `Song of the Western Men`

The Amazing Anna Piaggi

"Anna Piaggi is one of the last great exotics - a fashion editor in the true and traditional sense of the word"
Anna Piaggi sadly died in 2012. She was an Italian fashion editior, mainly working for Italian Vogue; known for her colourful outfits, and unusual combinations! She was said to treat her very physique as a full-fledged work of art, covering herself in color and pattern, joyously brandishing the unlikeliest combinations, proclaiming confidently with every outfit that more is indeed more!
Here are some beautiful pictures of her, in each example finished off with a joyous walking cane or two, which naturally compliments her outfit..

Trinity House museum portrait reveals a fabulous Narwhal tusk walking cane..

For centuries, Trinity House has been a focus for the seafaring community in the busy and important port of Leith. It is the headquarters of the Incorporation of Masters and Mariners, who looked after the welfare of those who took to the seas. The building is full of stories of the captains and memories of their voyages, and contains many treasures of Leith’s seafaring past. One such treasure is shown here, in the museum's selection of martime related portraits..
This is a portrait of Peter Wood (1749–1826). He and his brother Christopher are recorded as being successful Leith whale-ship owners. They also ran a blubber-smelting business in the Timber Bush of Leith. Peter Wood was a member of Trinity House and Water Baillie of Leith. This three-quarter-length painting shows a prosperous and relaxed-looking man holding his walking cane made from a narwhal tusk. The cane itself is now on display in the museum. The painted was done by the well known portrait artist Sir Henry Raeburn, around 1800. It is so unsual to see a record like this of a Narwhal cane and it's owner, and in this case, the historical connection between the two. Obviously the item was a prized possession, as it has center stage after the sitter in this portrait.
My thanks to Shaun Winfield for bringing this image to our attention.

G.K. Chesterton writing for The Daily News on the 7th March, 1908

Why was a walking cane carried if it was not intended to be used as an ambulatory aid?
G.K. Chesterton once again gives us an insight into another of mans' many misteries in this amusing quote;
"You could not find two things more unlike in this world, more opposite in their aim and substance, than a walking cane and an umbrella... An umbrella is purely practical. A walking cane is purely poetical. An umbrella is a necessary evil. A walking cane is an unnecessary good. A man hides under an umbrella because he feels frightened, even if it is only of being washed. But a man carries a walking cane because he feels brave, because he feels inclinded to fight anybody for two pence...."
Thank you Robert for kindly sending us this fantastic quotation.

portrait of John Milnes by Joseph Wright of Derby

This wonderful portrait is of John Milnes, and was painted by Joseph Wright of Derby in1776 - a very famous year! It is painted in the Rococo style and is a large oil 127cms by 101cms. It hangs in the Musee du Louve, Paris France. Milnes is seen here against a typical countryside background, in period dress, holding a fine tall malacca cane with silver end cap and long ferrule. Canes from the 18th century are usually of this type, always malacca and much taller than later Victorian examples. We do see see such canes with handles made of various materials, including copper gilt, gold, pewter, horn and silver. Typically the ferrules are always long & extended, for use on muddy paths & walks during a period before pavements were introduced. Note this cane example has a stepped section approximately 30cms from the handle, with a further silver flanged band. This is a superior example and would have been seen as a superior outward sign of status and position, a reason why Milnes would have been happy to be portrayed holding it.
From 25th January to the 5th May the Holburne Museum in Great Pulteney Street, Bath has an exhibition "Joseph Wright if Derby: Bath and Beyond" where this portrait can be seen..

the well equipped automobile

We were recently sent these images by a keen cane collector - who also has a passion for cars. Visiting a car show in Philadelphia USA he came across this attractive 1947 Bentley Drophead Cabriolet in two tones of brown.. It had a trunk arrangement which caught his eye & included a spectactular wicker picnic basket but also, upon close inspection there was a compartment space for a shooting umbrella and an ebony evening walking cane.. Certainly its owner would be ready for any occassion. Many thanks to John for forwarding this.. he can be seen enjoying his latest project currently under construction hopefully to be completed later this year.

an early English Battersea enamel "pomander" scent cane with courting couple & cane

This ia a rare English Battersea enamel cane, which opens to reveal a pomander "sponge" within, used as a vessel to sweeten the smell of the air! The sponge within would typically be kept wet and staurated with a smelling essence & so when opened the scent would be expelled..It is set on a white enamel ground & made on a brass gilt metal base, traditionally fitted directly onto an elegant brown malacca shaft. What makes this already rare cane of even more interest is the decoration to the top of the handle. On the dome shaped "lid" hand painted in beautiful colours is a courting couple, both seen in period colthes of the day, the Gentleman seen carrying his tall malacca cane

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, styled & photgraphed by Cecil Beaton

These publicity photographs were taken for the 1963 Broadway production of the musical "My Fair Lady" which starred actress Audrey Hepburn. Here she is seen wearing a costume with a wide lampshade hat topped with bow and holding a fine gold topped walking cane, similar to the item illustrated... The dress was designed by Cecil Beaton who also was responsible for taking the photos..the cane is available on our website

the 18th Century English "Macaroni"... & the origins of the "Yankee Doodle"... are a selection of English "Macaroni" 18th century prints, saturising the "Italianate" English members of the Macaroni Club, who wore extravagant dress, bag wigs with macaroni clubs of hair attached to the back of their heads and carried tasseled macaroni canes. The notoriety of their dress prompted many satirical prints published in London from 1770 - 1776 while in America during the French & Indian War the derisive term was used by the nattily dressed Brisith forces to mock the Americans ~ New York "Yankees" ~ who joined them at Niagara dressed in their homespuns, buckskins and animal pelts. British army surgeon Richard Schuckburg ridiculed the countrified colonials in his song about Yankee Doodle who stuck a feather in his hat & called it "macaroni". There are more than 150 recorded variants of the song that ridiculed the motley American troops who thought thrusting a feather in their caps made them fashionable...
During the American Revolution however the American troops seized upon the song as their anthem, playing it on fife & drum & making it become the major patriotic song of the war.
At Cornwell's surrender, the British band played "The World Turned Upside Down", whilst the Americans played "Yankee Doodle" and so had the last laught at the Briitish expense....

why fashionable walking canes continue to be a Wow!

It appears that the walking cane will continue to be seen forever as a fashionable accessory, suited or booted, be it carried by a Lady or a Gentleman, the remarkable walking cane is a cross gender item of elegance that continues to hold its own in the smartest circles; seen here in typical evening dress of the Balck & White variety, from the 60's with English model of the day Twiggy with matching double breasted Prince of Wales check, or a Winter fashion collection mix of tartans and velvet by American designer Ralph Lauren.. perhaps not long now to wait until we see the walking cane make a return to form & actually used again for it's true purpose, as an accoutrement to a smart & colourful outfit..

William of Orange at The Royal Palace of Kensington

William III of Orange was King of Great Briatain and Ireland from 1689 - 1702 and seen here standing in the front gardens of the Royal Palace of Kensington is this large bronze staute of him, wearing Court dress & holding a tall fine cane. The staitue has recently been restored and renovated as has the main facade and entrance to the Palace. William of Orange died on March 8th, 1702 in the Palace. Kensington Palace has been the home of various members of the Royal family, in most recent times the Duke and Duchess of Kent have apartments there, Princess Diana lived there, and it is now the new home for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The last image is taken from within the Palace in the main front room, the view from which so many of the family would have viewed out to see the London life beyond.. on one occassion I happened to be there all on my own.

"To be truly elegant one should not be noticed"

So said George Bryan "Beau" Brummell (7 June 1778 – 30 March 1840) an iconic figure in Regency England, the arbiter of men's fashion, & a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. He established the mode of dress for men that rejected overly ornate fashions for one of understated, but perfectly fitted and tailored bespoke garments. This look was based on dark coats, full-length trousers rather than knee breeches and stockings, and above all immaculate shirt linen and an elaborately knotted cravat ~ he also aways carried a cane! Here is our favourite London statue of "The Dandy" placed perfectly at the start of the Piccadilly Arcade, in Jermyn Street, still a bastion for the finest of mens attire. The statue was unveiled by Princess Michael of Kent on November 5, 2002. At its base reads the following inscription: "To be truly elegant one should not be noticed." George 'Beau' Brummell's connections with Court, clubs and tailoring embody the spirit of St. James's past and present. Brummell is credited with introducing and bringing to fashion the modern man's suit worn with necktie. He claimed to take five hours to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne. His style of dress came to be known as dandyism. I expect he had a very fine cane collection too...

interesting statues of the 'bearers of walking canes'...

Once you start looking out for these they start to pop up everywhere! ~ certainly we could list quite a few near and around our gallery in central London, but here is a fine work of the Irish writer & poet James Joyce, (February 2 1882 – January 13 1941) dressed with hat and cane, in the center of Dublin.. Joyce is frequently quoted on all types of subjects, but famously on the subject of art said.. "Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end" ~ what link to collecting walking canes there is yet to be defined! Please send us any interesting statues near you of ladies or gentleman carrying canes!

historical Winston Churchill commemorative walking cane

Here is an unusual, charming walking cane, commemorating an historic event which occurred on 14 August 1941.
Navel Station Argentia located in Little Placentia Sound was the site of the Atlantic Conference for the Atlantic Charter, where Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt met face to face for the first time since both took office in Placentia Bay, a body of water on the southeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and it was the start of World War II. This cane is actually made of papier mache, then hand painted, with a leather platted collar onto a bamboo shaft. Almost certainly made as a momento of this visit, by a serving seaman or similar. Churchill of course was well known for carrying a walking cane, often with an engraved silver monogrammed band, but rarely do we see such a cane made as such a tribute...

recent acqusition with a Spanish interest..

We recently aquired an interesting gold handled cane with a double reeded embossed design; an engraved top and details of a London address, fitted to a fine blonde malacca shaft.. The gold is actually Hall Marked as 18 carat and belonged to a certain Juan Riano y Gayangos (1865 - 1939) who was the Spanish diplomat & Ambassador to the United States from 1914 - 1926. The top of the handle is finely engraved "Juan Riano, no.1 Grosvenor Gardens" and the marks around the rim of the handle are those of Johnson, Sons & Edmonds, who were a London firm.. From this photo found on the internet we can see he was a Gentleman of some style... as if his gold topped cane was not a give away!

a super Whangee Cane as used by actor Maurice Chevalier!

Maurice Auguste Chevalier (September 12, 1888 – January 1, 1972) was a French actor, singer and entertainer. He is perhaps best known for his signature songs, including Thank Heaven for Little Girls from the film Gigi. His trademark attire was a boater hat, which he always wore on stage with a tuxedo, and in this early picture carrying his fine Whangee cane, typically a light coloured walking cane, a very suitable accompany to his straw boater! From the film poster released to promote Gigi his is seen also in character with a fine gold topped cane

The Queen of Downton Abbey!

Many people on both sides of the pond have been taken with the televison series "Downton Abbey", the story told of the Upstairs & Downstairs goings on of the Grantham Family, written by Julian Fellowes. Part of its great success is due to how visually accurate it is to the time, and accordingly one of the main characters, Lady Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by none other than Maggies Smith - surely a part written with her in mind! - is frequently seen with a silver tau shaped ebonised walking cane..

a Gentleman actor of stage & screen...

Walter John "Jack" Buchanan (2nd April 1891 – 20th October 1957) was a Scottish theatre and film actor, singer, producer and director. He was known for three decades as the embodiment of the debonair man-about-town in the tradition of George Grossmith Jr. He is best known in America for his role in the classic Hollywood musical The Band Wagon in 1953. By good fortune we recently aquired his ebony and silver evening cane shown here, and also have a fine image of him by Cecil Beaton in typical pose in Top Hat and Tails.

our latest Great Gatsby...

In the past Gentleman always carried a walking cane, and rightly so in the latest screen version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel written in 1925, portrays on various occassions the leading man Leonard Di Caprio carrying a walking cane! The example shown here is very similar to that used in the film, made of the finest materials, namely snakewood for the shaft, and finished with gold mounts ~ superbly understated, yet of the very highest quality! (this walking cane is available for sale)

G.K. Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) better known as G.K. Chesterton, was an English writer, poet, dramatist, journalist, literary and art critic, biographer, and Christian apologist. Here are pictures of Chesterton with his various canes, which in later life he always chose to hve by his side...Chesterton is often referred to as the "prince of paradox." Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out." His comtempory and "friendly enemy" George Bernard Shaw said of him.. "He was a man of colossal genius." - with a reference to art Chesterton famously said.. "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - a lesson for all collectors but sometimes hard to abide when we see that unique item which we so desire...

how longer & earlier 18th Century malacca canes were used & carried...

A frequently asked question is "how longer & earlier 18th Century malacca canes were used & carried..." well a picture tells it best, and in this Scotish oil painting of a Nobleman by Allan Ramsay (Edinburgh 1713- 1784) we can see not only how it was used but also the style and dress that was used with it! Here are also a few fine gold examples of the styles of canes you may expect to see from this period..

"Les Cannes" ~ silk scarf with walking cane design from Hermes Paris

With a long history of producing perhaps the finest silk scarfs in the world, Hermes of Paris has produced in its current range a selection of eight colourways a design made up of walking canes! It sells for about £270.00 ($410.00) and is 90 cm x 90 cm square.. What a perfect addition to the cane collector who is searching for related items! ~ actually Hermes has a history of producing themed silkware & this is not the first design they have produced based on canes.. we have a selection of earlier examples in our archives should you like to find out more...

a thought on collecting, by Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban 1561 - 1626

..this insightful quote was kindly sent in by a friend & fellow collector, & certainly gives rise & justification for all our shared collecting passions!
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban,(22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author.
He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism... which is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience!
We quote "....a learned Gentleman must possess a goodly, huge cabinet, wherein whatsoever the hand of man by exquisite art or engine hath made rare in stuff, form or motion, whatsoever singularity chance and the shuffle of things hath produced, whatsoever nature hath wrought in things that want life and may be kept, shall be sorted and included....." really rather well said!

The Invisible Woman ~ the story of Charles Dickens & his secret young Mistress

"The Invisible Woman" is a new film due for release in 2013, which tells the tale of Charles Dickens, who at the height of his career, meets a younger woman who becomes his secret lover until his death. The film stars Ralph Fiennes in the title role as Charles Dickens with Tom Hollander as Wilke Collins. We were very fortunate to be involved with this interesting historical production, & once again were able to supply period correct walking canes for the films prop department. As Dickens is such a typical character to carry a cane this was a great opportunity to help with this connection!

Les Miserables ~ a film spectacular ~ & some interesting original walking canes

We are often asked to lend walking canes for films & television, and I must confess usually decline ~ however two films recently produced were too interesting not to be involved with... the prop department for "Les Miserables" made a visit & together we worked on a selection of canes that can be seen carried by most of the major characters in the film.. What is especially interesing was that most of these canes at some point were used in large crowd or fighting scenes & so the prop department had to cleverly make exact copies - made of latex rubber - which would allow the actors to fight with them but at the same neither hurt each other or damage the cane! The canes each had to be made to the suitable length for each actor ~ just as canes would have been made " to fit" the original purchaser in Victorian times..
The images below show various examples of these canes ~ with the real item & the stunt rubber dummy cane..

Russian literature & a Poodle dog head walking cane...

Our friend & collector Frederik Plum bought to our attention a very interesting literal connection to dog head walking canes, especially those modelled as a Poodle head..
With a very interesting reference to the Russian / Soviet book "The Master and Margarita", first published in 1967. This satirical classic of Russian literature written by Mikhail Bulgakov is partly based on the Faust-myth. The story is about Satan coming to Moscow, which of course the highly secular Marxist Muscovites do not comprehend. So the Devil is portrayed as a ambivalent sort of stranger or foreigner which for instance is seen in his Poodle head cane which he carries. There actually is a long tradition in Russian literature for portraying the Devil as a foreigner of German, French or British decent... and likewise in Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and many more.

Quoted here is the introduction of Woland, as the Devil is called; where you can read about the Poodle cane... this story also amusingly made it to Britain in the song "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones, which Mick Jagger wrote after reading Bulgakovs book!

..........."As to his teeth, he had platinum crowns on his left side and gold ones on his right. He wore an expensive grey suit and foreign shoes of the same colour as his suit. His grey beret was stuck jauntily over one ear and under his arm he carried a walking-stick with a knob in the shape of a poodle's head. He looked slightly over forty. Crooked sort of mouth. Clean-shav-n. Dark hair. Right eye black, left eye for some reason green. Eyebrows black, but one higher than the other. In short - a foreigner. As he passed the bench occupied by the editor and the poet, the foreigner gave them a sidelong glance, stopped & suddenly sat down on the next bench a couple of paces away from the two friends. "A German,'' thought Berlioz. "An Englishman. ...'" thought Bezdomny. " Phew, he must be hot in those gloves!'"

Wow! I must confess that Poodle dog canes are actually rather rare. We see greyhound & whippet dog head canes fairly frequently, but dogs such as poodles & barbets (French hunting "water" dog) are rare albeit seen in Victorian times... perhaps now they will become even more collectable!

canes in portraiture...

We so often refer to a walking cane as an accessory to one's costume, so it is not surprising to see in formal portraiture the inclusion of a cane in the sitting arrangement. Indeed portraits of this period were usually painted with the sitter wearing all their finery - and perhaps home and lands in the background ~ to show off ones social position and wealth. Here are just a few examples of both 18th and 19th century oil portraits .... with the sitter and their other worldly goods "cut out" so that we can focus on the cane!

"My Walking Stick" ~ by Irving Berlin

"Without My Walking Stick, I'd go insane, can't look my best, I feel undressed without My cane" ! .... and so the song goes!
Truly the anthem for all cane collectors... Do check out the link on You Tube of "The Shots" rendition of this little number...

Eos - by Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-73) 1841

... perhaps some may be familiar with this very handsome portrait of a grayhound by the English artist Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-73) painted in 1841 ~ the original is an oil on canvas commissioned by Queen Victoria & presented to her husband Prince Albert at Christmas 1841. Described as ‘very friendly if there is plum-cake in the room … keen on hunting, sleepy after it, always proud and contemptuous of other dogs’, Prince Albert’s beloved greyhound Eos stands poised and alert, guarding her master’s possessions. Note one of which is an exceptional ivory handled malacca cane! ... Greyhounds were traditionally associated with court life and also appear in portraits by Titian & Van Dyck, & along with whippets are the first breed of dogs seen in early portraiture & landscapes..
Since Buckingham Palace has recently been open to the public, some may even have been fortunate enough to see the original of Eos for themselves, as it is positioned in a central location in the Royal Palace, at the top of the main hall staircase! Victorian's may well have been aware of this portrait & knowing that a Royal painting had been comissioned enticed collector's of the time to commission their own version of the painting.. Here is a very fine example of such a work, shown next to the original, & obviously not quite a Landseer... it remains the next best thing!

London Life uses "elegance" used to sell cigarettes in early American advert

Found this early advert, made for the American market to sell "London Life" cigarettes, which displays a stylised Gentleman in his finery, which includes a black silk top hat, tall stiff collar shirt, silk tie, kid leather gloves & of course a formal ebonised walking cane! ~ the advert continues.. "By Appointment to His Royal Highness. The American Gentleman"... the downside to looking like a Gentleman & smoking at the same time is perhaps that you can no longer have a hand free...

a very proud 'Father of the Bride'...

We recently had a visit from a well known collector who had just celebrated the most special occasion of his daughter's wedding... In true fashion the Father of the Bride has to give his daughter away and on this well rehearsed day how better to do such an important task than whilst carrying one of your canes! ~ bravo for such great style ~ and congratulations to Diana who looked so beautiful...

where in the whale...... do whalebone canes come from...?

We frequently refer to whalebone canes for which there is a strong following amongst cane collectors. These are canes carved by whalers and made whilst at sea from the spoils of the whale. However, where does the bone actually come from? The best canes are carved from the pan bone, the flared spoon like rear portion of the sperm whale jaw, and only the whale teeth themselves were more prized. The reason was that the pan is the largest and densest bone occurring in nature and lent itself to being cut, carved, and engraved in large segments.
Here is such a complete bone, which in this example has been carved with the whaleing port that presumably it was caught from, and can clearly be seen to read "Hammerfest 1898". It has been used as a piece of decorative natural history, and would have been intended to be mounted on a wall, perhaps over a doorway. It clearly shows the type of material that we see in whaler's crafted canes, and although this is a relatively small example, gives you some idea of where and how the whalers' had to go about starting to create such beautiful works of art.
Hammerfest is in Norway, and was the most Northern fishing and whaling port ~ and as this early picture shows was clearly rather bleak!

The Great "Caruso"

Just come across this rather wonderful photograph of Enrico Caruso (Feb 25 1873 - August 2 1921) ~ the magnificent Italian tenor... here he is looking rather splendid ~ & of course, wearing a cane! ~ sadly we don't own this one ~ but I would love to know who does?

Caruso was born and died in Naples, Italy. He sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and North and South America, appearing in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic. He also made approximately 290 commercially released recordings from 1902 to 1920. All of these recordings, which span most of his stage career, are still available today!

The Gentleman of Bacongo

We are frequently asked if anybody today actually "wears" a walking cane for its original purpose, that is to say as a true fashion accessory..
Well I think we have found a Society of Gentleman who are indeed fine supporters of the use of canes!
This amazing photo was taken by Daniele Tamagni from the book - "The Gentleman of Bacongo" ~ of the Sapeurs in Congo-Brazzaville: eccentric dandies, who raise fashion to an almost religious status. Their name comes from SAPE ~ La Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes ~ translated to The society of Tastemakers and Elegant People ~ In general they do live in poverty but as one Sapeur describes the strange combination of poverty and fashion "A Congolese sapeur is a happy man even if he does not eat, because wearing proper clothes feeds the soul and gives pleasure to the body".... A Sapeur never combines more than three colours, and increases his status with a cigar and a walking cane.. This society started in the eighties, but remains a phenomenon with many followers.... so now you know!

"You ain't heard nothin' yet".....

Al Jolson (May 26, 1886 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer". In the 1930s, he was America's most famous and highest paid entertainer. Between 1911 and 1928, Jolson had nine sell-out Winter Garden shows in a row, more than 80 hit records, and 16 national and international tours. Although he's best remembered today as the star in the first (full length) talking movie, The Jazz Singer, in 1927.
According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, "Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock 'n' roll". Being the first popular singer to make a spectacular "event" out of singing a song, he became a “rock star” before the dawn of rock music.
He enjoyed performing in blackface makeup – a theatrical convention since the mid-19th century. With his unique and dynamic style of singing black music, like jazz and blues, he was later credited with single-handedly introducing African-American music to white audiences. As early as 1911 he became known for fighting against anti-black discrimination on Broadway. Jolson's well-known theatrics and his promotion of equality on Broadway helped pave the way for many black performers, playwrights, and songwriters, including Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Ethel Waters.

This is an extrodinary collector's walking cane, carved in wood & hand painted in a likeness to the famous entertainer!

Happy Valentine's Day!

This beautiful 18th Century gold top cane depicts a man attempting to court a young maiden ~ in the tried & tested method of presenting her with flowers! ~ February 14th is of course Valentine's Day ~ traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards known as "valentines".

What better way to celebrate this day this for a cane collector than this cane!

Sir Harry Lauder... a world famous Entertainer & cane collector

Now largely forgotten, in the early to mid 1900's Sir Harry Lauder was one of the most famous entertainers in the world. A gifted singer, songwriter and comedian, he sold millions of recordings and filled theatres all over the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the USA. One of his Trademark items was a very crooked walking stick ~ of which he had many ~ and during our research into Harry, we came across a collector called Jim Vallance who has created a really marvellous web site with a section all about the singer, with very informed details about him and his collection ~ the pictures alone are very amusing & worth viewing ~ so please check out this link below to go directly to his site & history of the Scottish ballardeer who diied in 1950... (Jim has given his conscent to use this link to see his site)

The images of the cane that we show here is a typical example of one of Harry's canes, with a silver plate engraved detailing it as having been gifted by his niece Greta Lauder in 1955... who is this "jilted" horned man?

Can anybody throw some light as to just who is this "jilted" horned man? ~ a recent aqusition, this truly fabulous figurative ivory handled cane, of a courting couple with a misterious figure behind them, who is looming in the background but also clasping a dagger! Please also note the horns! Do please get in touch if you have any ideas as to who this mythical character might be... we have a few ideas of our own but as they are mostly still alive... and this beautiful carving was created in around 1870, I guess we would be wrong to suggest anybody! ... ideas please!
January 2016 - delighted to hear from Dr. William Aronstein in Ohio, USA that this cane probably represents Tristan, Isolde and King Mark, apparently a popular subject for many sculptures - many thanks for this information!

view a chance meeting on this fun fashion Blog!

We recently met a very hip young stylist called Madeleine Ostlie who we helped out on a London fashion shoot with some canes ~ and she very kindly wrote about her visit on her Blog. What struck me about the images she took was that they were obviously taken with a "fashion designers" eye and although they are only snap shots ~ they have an edge to them that we rarely see in the antique world! Do have a look at this great fashion blog ~ for all sorts of inspiration!! - you have been warned! ~

Foraging in London.... with The New York Times

A very charming lady visited our store by the off chance whilst walking down Kensington Church Street having visited one of the many fine restaurants in the street for lunch... She duly rang the bell & said she simply had to come in as the window had caught her attention! Elisabeth Robinson is journalist & a regular contributor to The New York Times, and her articles are often in the travel section of the paper. She kindly wrote about us in the "Foraging In London" section & even found a cane to purchase for a friend!

"The Mail on Sunday" ~ Financial section!

The Mail on Sunday's Toby Walne wrote a feature for the paper featuring interesting collectables that seem off the normal radar to most, which not only give the collector great pleasure and enjoyment, but also, have proved to be quite sound investments! Of the collecting fields included he wrote a feature about walking canes which he asked us to help with ~ and we even managed to persuade a collector ~ typically a very shy species ~ to get involved and be featured! Interestingly other collecting fields that he featured included Teddy bears, travel posters & moon rocks!

Prada ... not boots & handbags ... but a fine cane collection on display in their flagship store in Milan!

Right in the center of the beautiful city of Milan is a large shopping area. Located in the prime position is a flagship Prada fashion store ~ & as you enter this grand homage to high fahion & very soft leather ~ you are confronted by a beautiful large display cabinet containing the companies cane & parasol collection! It takes up quite a large amount of this very valuable display space ~ which only bears witness to just how important walking canes are! The items are not for sale but are intended to show the early origins of the company ~ well worth a visit even if you dont need more boots or handbags ....

... a surprise sighting of fine canes at Kingston Lacy in Dorset

A visit to the National Trust property Kingston Lacy in Dorset bought about a surprise sighting of a small yet rather fine collection of walking canes! Home of the Bankes family for more than 300 years, this striking 17th-century house is noted for its lavish interiors. The outstanding art collection includes paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Brueghel, with the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK. However, in a modest way it is when you first enter the house that the surprise awaits you as there almost in the doorway, what is actually now the entrance hall of the building is this interesting assortment including both decorative & system canes, also with formal & folk art canes. ~ do please let us know if you ever come accross such sightings on your travels!

Bel Ami ~ the movie ~ out in 2011

Do look out for "Bel Ami" which comes out in 2011 ~ a film with a truly star studded cast, Robert Pattinon, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas to name just some! plus a selection of star studded supporting quality walking canes which we loaned for the filming. There are some great period dress scenes many showing canes being used for purpose ~ as a true dress accessory ~ the canes will be on display during the year in the gallery

even in a black out....

England tends not to cope very well when bad weather strikes! ~ and so just before Christmas with various storms and foul weather Kensington Church Street sufferred a electricity failure that put the whole street into darkness for nearly a whole day! Fortunately opposite us is a great restaurent "Ffiona's" which is well known for its candlelit suppers ~ and so to our rescue she came with over 40 candles which gave the gallery a certain church like theme for the day and also kept the heat up!

The film to see!

"The Walking Stick" came out in 1970 staring David Hemmings and Samantha Eggar, and even with the sub title .... "She Couldn't Refuse Him Anything!" .. surprisingly appears not to have been a blockbuster! However it is good news to all us collectors' to have had a film named after one of our passions! We were thrilled to aquire an original poster for the film which now hangs proudly in the gallery

The Fireflies crossing the Alps for Leuka.....

My friend Andy Carroll's passion is riding a bicycle ... now in its 10th year "The Fireflies Ride" is a group of riders who undertake an enormous challenge of riding their bicycles - 8 gruelling days of cycling from Geneva to Cannes, 1000km across the French Alps - all in aid of Leuka - their mantra being "for those who suffer we ride.."
Founded in 1982 Leuka is a registered charity dedicated to raising funds to support research into the causes and treatment of leukaemia at London's Hammersmith Hospital. At the forefront of clinical and scientific advances for the past thirty years, the specialist unit at the Hammersmith already has an international reputation for excellence and innovation.
This is a charity close to our hearts as some may know, Michael German is currently a cancer sufferer and is treated at this amazing center.. Read more about the Fireflies at and please watch the amazing short clip by film maker Nick Mason
Please consider supporting Andy and Leuka if you feel it is possible - visit his link to make any donation:

very amusing 1958 British Pathe film clip of a cane collection

A keen collector found this amusing clip and kindly passed it onto us - it is great fun - filmed in Abbey House Museum, Kirkstall, Yorkshire. Learn about Mr. Maynard Mitchell, a well known rabologist (collector of walking sticks) as he has to catalogue a newly acquired collection of walking sticks. The background music, the note taking scretary and the voice over commentary make this a classic!
Just view this link! :

look who is wearing a cane!

On a recent trip to London to pick up a BAFTA for "The Wrestler", a charming gentleman kindly made a pit stop to visiit us. Thinking that to complete his attire certainly a fine walking cane was required.... and so with careful thought and consideration a most elegant option was duly selected!

our new "fan display cane stand"

We are delighted to announce our new cane display stand to compliment the exisitng circular stand that we already have made & supply in various woods. We have been looking for some time for an additional stand to add to our range for collectors' & at last we have this design & found somebody clever enough to make it to a top standard. This is a large two tiered traditional "fan display" model which holds up to 24 canes individually ~ each socket & ring is lined in soft green baise fabric for protection. It has been faithfully copied from an original Victorian example with all the dimensions faithfully reproduced & can be made to order in most woods ~ it is manufactured today by wood craftsmen to the highest quality ~ we currently have examples available in both oak & walnut wood which look stunning! The overall height of the stand is 68.5cms / 27 inches & the width at the furthest point is 82cms / 32.5inches ~ for more details please see our section under the title of cane stands...

fantastic new book for cane collectors ~ "Vertical Art : The Enduring Beauty of Antique Canes and Walking Canes"

"Vertical Art: The Enduring Beauty of Antique Canes and Walking Canes" (Hudson Hills Press) ~ this amazing book is a demonstration of the art of walking canes in their finest glory ~ this beautiful book shows 377 canes and is 400 pages with slipcase ~ it was launched at Canemania 2008 in Paris and is truly a unique selection of some of the finest canes ~ photographed in colour with tremendous style by Italian photographer Umberto Barone, it has been produced to the very highest standard ~ this book sets a standard for the collection of canes and is a must for all serious collectors ~ not just of canes but items of beauty!
In the caption below entitled "Mondo Cane" this excellent book is reviewed by Eve M. Kahn in the New York Times, date December 26, 2008
The book is available to purchase directly from, and for further images of whats inside visit the site which is almost as splendid as the book!

... colourful windows & passer-byes!

For some time now kind customers have requested seeing images of our changing window ~ those who have visited us know it is actually very small but the challange is always on to fit in as much as possible, making it hopefully an eye catching puzzle for passer byes ~ however we frequently have new visitors to the shop who say somthing like .. "I have passed by for over 10 years and never made it in" ~ to which we always think we must be doing somthing terribly wrong! ~ here are some views of current & windows past!

Bastoni Materia Arte Potere - the accompanying volume!

Such was the success of Renzo Traballesi's exhibition held in Sienna in September 2007 that the exhibition was asked to be presented in Milan - to an even larger audiance. By the time this had come about Renzo had been approached by various collectors that they also had canes that could warrant being included in this second exhibition. This additional catalogue was written to acompany the full exhibition version and is an interesting and worthy text for any collector.Now available at £18.00 plus p&p

here at last! - "Stick to Canes" Part 1 & 2 out now on DVD

In the early 1990's we produced two video tapes illustrating over two hundred and thirty fine quality antique canes, with the view of sharing knowledge in the subject by showing some of the highest quality items to be found by the collector of today.

“Sticks to Canes - Part One” we cover the earlier period from 1550 to 1840 and includes a group of the early ivory pique canes, similar period early silver ones, ornate gold examples, a group with early porcelain handles, a few historical items including a cane belonging to Lord Byron and another of Napoleon III. On show to be viewed also are some early system canes including a magnificent Admiral’s telescope cane by Elliot, London, with its shaving set, lamp, writing implements, drawing tools and wax candle; a group of watches, some early flintlock gun canes made by Klett and Jones, and a few of the earliest sword canes produced. There is a selection of early musical items including violins, clarinets, flutes etc. Among other rarities are three nutcracker canes and a Martin microscope, complete with original it’s slides.

“Sticks to Canes - Part Two” we cover the main period for the collector of today, from approximately the 1840’s and ending with the era including the world war of 1914. In this section can be found a group of fine Marine whalebones including architectural examples, a group of fine ivories, cased gold mounted tortoiseshells, medical items including hearing aids, a group of amusing wood and ivory articulated animal heads and many system canes including watches, sword and gun canes, a large selection of mainly silver cigarette, pipe, lighter and snuff canes. There is also a group of Faberge canes and handles from his St Petersburg and Moscow workshops, Folk Art items and many more unusual pieces.

By revising this project into a DVD we bow to the march of technological progress and hope that the collector of today will gain some further insight and that future collectors will be inspired to start collections in this fascinating subject.

The duration is for Part 1 1:37 and for Part 2 1:44, and the DVD is available in both European and American formats, professionally filmed and recorded - priced at £20.00 each film