How to Collect Canes


Part I: A pathway for a new collector with a modest budget.

It can be an overwhelming experience to a new collector to walk into an antique cane dealer’s shop and try to visually sort through a couple hundred fascinating, beautiful examples for sale, or to attend a cane only auction with over 200 hundred canes of every kind of material and style imaginable —–where do you start? How can you possibly decide on what to look for and what to possibly buy?

As with all areas of collecting the 1st caveat is to collect what you like and will find pleasure in owning. With this in mind a particularly enjoyable part of collecting antique canes is there is such a wide range of styles, materials and subjects from which to choose. I suggest that a new collector select at least two [but not more than three] different types of materials/styles or subjects as the initial focus of their collection. This approach will provide enough variety to find readily available for sale, but small enough to allow the collector to become knowledgeable in those selected areas.

The peak of production and use of canes [for fashion& novel functions] was from the early-mid 19th to the early 20th century. The widest variety and reasonably priced antique canes come from this Golden Era of canes. To stay within a starter collector’s budget the focus should be on finely carved wood figurals [decorative likenesses of man, animal or object], fascinating cast silver, or decorative porcelain handle canes. Within each of these material categories [wood, silver and porcelain] there are many collecting opportunities. Within the carved wood category there are many fascinating  carvings of interesting  people[ an example is shown in this newsletter] and a wide variety of  animals [dogs, horses, birds, etc.] of which many superior examples can be found in auctions in the $500 or less range.

Likewise, many attractive porcelain and silver handled 19th century canes can be found in that same price range at auctions. An often overlooked, reasonably priced type of cane is a  simple, but elegant Art Nouveau silver handled cane with beautiful floral and animal decorations[ an example shown in this newsletter].

On the other hand, a new collector could easily be drawn to some high end [>$5,000] pieces of incredibly well carved ivories or heavily jeweled handles in gold. If that is in your budget and you have done the necessary research, fine, but it is unnecessary to reach up for those special, expensive examples to establish a fun, attractive collection of antique canes.

How can I find out more about specific canes and what is available in the market? The following are four suggestions to gain more insight:
  1. Buy and study catalogs from antique cane auctions and two sources are: John Monek [Canes Through the Ages auctions] @$30/catalog including prices achieved can be reached via email: elkman1953@aol.com or Hank Taron [Tradewinds Antique auctions] @$30/catalog including prices achieved can be reached at 978-526-4085.
  2. Buy and study a book on canes. A good starter book for an overview is Canes and Walking Sticks /Jeffery Snyder ISBN: 0-7643-2041-6 [many copies are available on www.abebooks.com
  3. Attend auctions to observe and ask questions [before you jump in and buy, buy, buy]. www.liveauctioneers.com lists upcoming auctions on their network throughout the world.
  4. Attend the Ninth International Cane Collectors Conference in London in 2014 [see information on this website]

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