Collectors of canes, walking sticks, are mainly interested in the types of canes that were used as accessories in fashion over those used as orthopedic supports. Traditionally, individuals would choose to accessorize their wardrobe with the use of a cane. The canes quality was representative of the person’s social standings, wealth and level of power within the community. This happens today in similar fashion with the jewelry, shoes, handbags and such. Reminiscent of how past cultures sought out canes today we seek out designer handbags and other types of fashion accessories.
Every collector and type of collection has their own unique set of “rules” per se on what makes a piece valuable. Cane collectors understand that collectible canes will often show some visible signs of wear as they were used by individuals on a daily basis. Antique canesare valued based on a number of things. The materials the cane is made out of as well as the condition, age, rarity, demand, authenticity and style all come into play when determining the canes worth.
There are three common types of canes that are collected: gadget canes, decorative canes and folk art canes. Practically all canes have four basic components that are universal: handle, collar, shaft and ferrule. When determining the age and authenticity of antique canes look at how the canes pieces are assembled, the way the parts are manufactured and the materials of what it is made from.
For instance, a proper ferrule is important in authenticating antique canes. It is important to note that folk art pieces are not included in this. Most vintage ferrules are created from bimetal, steel where the tip meets the ground and surrounded by brass sleeves. Modern canes may have bimetal ferrules however it is not the norm. Collectible cane tips will show some wear unless they have been recently replaced or the cane itself is a replica. Worn ferrules are usually a sure sign that the cane is an antique.
Another thing about cane ferrules that allows collectors to authenticate them is the way in which it is attached to the shaft. Vintage tips are secured to the shaft in a fashion that makes it almost impossible to remove by hand. The shaft and ferrule is aligned perfectly; if the edge of the tip is above the surface of the shaft this is an indication that the original ferrule has been replaced or is a reproduction.
For more foolproof tips on establishing the authenticity of antique canes check in with organizations such as the International Association of Antique Umbrella and Cane Collectors. Their main purpose is to collaborate and educate others on the art of collecting canes and related items.