History of walking sticks
Rulers of many cultures, past and present, have carried some form of walking stick or staff. These were often topped by an ornamental knob in the shape of a lotus, a symbol of long life. Ancient Greek gods were often depicted with a staff in hand.
In the 17th century walking sticks were an important addition to a gentleman’s wardrobe. A cane was an ornament that represented the status and wealth of the carrier. A distinguished gentleman had more than one walking stick.
These elegant statements could be hand-carved out of wood, bamboo, ebony, ivory and bone. Sometimes they were designed using porcelain, Bakelite, gold, silver and glass or sprinkled with precious gemstones. Many of the materials used in canes, particularly the gemstones and animal bones, were selected because they were thought to give the finished object magical properties.
Historical figures and fictional characters have used walking canes, from Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi to Fred Astaire and James Bond.