There are three types of walking sticks and canes: decorative, folk art and system. As the name implies a decorative cane is an accessory used for fashion and their main purpose is purely aesthetic. Folk art canes were designed to be more about the carver then the individual who used them. They are most often created in all wood. System canes are often referred to as gadget canes. These are perhaps the most utilitarian of all canes. In the next few series we will discuss in detail each popular style of cane.
First we will discuss the decorative canes. Most of the decorative canes that are available to collectors today are from the second half of the nineteenth century into the nineteen twenties. They often have a basic shaft that has a decorative handle in which can be created from a number of materials including silver, ivory, gold, porcelain and other highly regarded materials.
Many antique cane collectors choose to begin their collections by purchasing vintage, silver handled canes that were common during this period of time. Collectors will want to ensure that the handle is sterling silver or priced accordingly if it is only a replica. The fancier the knob the more collectors should expect to pay. Often times, decorative canes with silver handles will be made even fancier with the addition of gold and can take on the shape of an animal, human figure or crook handle.
Cane artisans of this century created a number of decorative canes using ivory for the handle. Ivory is an incredibly scarce material and thus makes these canes highly collectable. Decorative ivory canes could most often be purchased by only the wealthiest individuals in society. When it comes to decorative cane handles the ivory material has literally had ever subject matter carved into it. From frogs to humans everything was carved into ivory cane handles. Human forms that are carved into decorative ivory cane handles are the most popular amongst collectors. Ivory is a very sensitive material and thus collectors should be careful to display them appropriately away from the direct sunlight and heat.
Gold is another popular decorative cane handle material. These are amongst the rarest and most expensive canes for collectors to get a hold of. Animal bone, antlers, wood, leather, glass and more have all been materials used to create decorative canes. Collectors should be careful when purchasing collectable canes as many of these materials, as they age, get cracks and chips and need repairs. Make sure the price that is paid for the collectable cane matches the canes condition. Of course a rare cane with exceptionally beautiful features may still be a popular option even with a few minor flaws.