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Vintage and Collectible Walking Canes

Updated on February 17, 2015

Is it vintage? Is it collectible? How can I tell?

Many people look back fondly on the "golden days" of their youth. So much so that we often forget the harsher realities of our childhood and teen years.

We may also remember fondly the clothing, furniture and household goods that were "bought to last", unlike the built-in obsolescence of many modern items. A well-made and stylish item was usually expensive, but seemed to be worth the initial outlay of cash. For whatever reason, vintage and antique items have become increasingly popular in the last few years.

There is some confusion and debates about terms like "antique" and "vintage". I can't resolve the debates, but I can give a few useful guidelines. An antique is usually thought of as a collectible item, with a high monetary value because of its age, usually more than 100 years.

The term vintage comes from wine-growing. You'll often hear people talk about the year a wine was produced - "this year was a particularly good vintage". More generally, we use the term to refer to something of good quality that was produced a few years ago, such as a vintage car, or to something representing the best of its kind, such as a classic novel.

Vintage-style or antiqued items are probably pretty new, but designed to look old. Don't be fooled! Having said that, everything was new once upon a time. An interesting new item could still be collectible, and could become the vintage or antique item of the future.

The illustration of Sherlock Holmes and Watson is cropped from a page in The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It first appeared in The Strand Magazine in 1901, and is now in the public domain. For Sherlock fans, the original caption was "There's our man, Watson! Come along."

Canes & Walking Sticks - A Stroll Through Time and Place

Over the centuries walking sticks, canes and staffs have served many purposes, as defensive weapons, mobility aids, symbols of authority and fashionable accessories. Some have been purely ornamental, some very practical and others quite deceptive. such as gadget sticks hiding a sword or alcohol.

Whatever their age, sticks and canes can be elegant and beautiful. This superb book will tell you what you need to know about their history, care and etiquette.

Canes & Walking Sticks: A Stroll Through Time and Place (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
Canes & Walking Sticks: A Stroll Through Time and Place (Schiffer Book for Collectors)

A book which will be interesting and enjoyable for collectors, with over 760 color photographs. It is a great read, spanning the centuries and weaving historical tales into the text. You will find information on walking stick anatomy, care and etiquette. Guide values for the canes are also included.


Walking Sticks and Canes - in history, literature, art and mythology

The Return of the Cane: A Natural History of the Walking Stick
The Return of the Cane: A Natural History of the Walking Stick

Man is not the only creature to use sticks and canes. Apes and certain types of birds also have a long history of using them. Sticks can symbolize total power or utter weakness. They have been used in ceremonies, for duelling, and for mobility. They appear in all civilisations, in different shapes and materials, and can include expensive decoration or strange and fanciful carvings of mythical creatures and people.

This interesting book covering history, literature, myths and symbolism includes many illustrations and photos.


Vintage Walking Sticks

Always look carefully at the descriptions of items before you bid. You need to be sure if the item you are bidding for is antique, vintage or only "collectible". If you are uncertain, email the seller to ask. Expect to pay between $100 and $500.

Depend on your walking stick, not on other people

— Japanese Proverb

Collectible Walking Canes

Always read item descriptions carefully before you bid. Remember that you can question the seller about whether the item is a genuine antique, vintage or just "collectible".

Classic Prints of Famous Cane Users

For the lover of "all things cane", a classic print could be the perfect birthday gift. There are many beautiful prints available, ranging from a romantic image of a man walking in the snow on Christmas eve, through to a print of Eadweard Muybridge's study of the locomotion by of a man walking with a cane. Personally, with an interest in history, I really like these photographic reproductions show famous cane users strolling with their canes.

Historic Print (M): Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany walking alone on his estate, with cane in hand
Historic Print (M): Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany walking alone on his estate, with cane in hand

Museum quality, reproduction print of Wilhelm II walking on his estate.

Historic Print (L): [Retired president of Princeton, James McCosh, walking on...
Historic Print (L): [Retired president of Princeton, James McCosh, walking on...

Museum quality, reproduction print of James McCosh, retired president of Princeton, walking on campus.


Vintage, antique, collectible? - Do you collect antiques or vintage items? Do you prefer sophisticated canes? Or rustic hand carved ones? Which is your favorite

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Yes, I love things with the patina of age on them. I have to restrain myself from starting collections. These would display nicely on a wall though.

    • profile image

      ChristyZ 4 years ago

      Some of these are really beautiful, I like the vintage hand carved cane. :)