A Compelling c.1900 English Folk Art Walking Stick


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century / Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900
Length: 34.5 inches

The cherry wood cane profusely carved depicting male bearded faces amongst fish, a mouse, cricket bat and stumps, cello and bottle amongst other everyday items of country life terminating in a tactile blackthorn (?) handle.

Condition is excellent, with the shaft displaying a strong patination and deep rich colour. There is no ferrule present but the stick has not been shortened.

Among the many forms of vernacular folk art, carved canes and sticks can be appreciated for both their beauty and their practicality. Folk art walking sticks essentially came out of a deep-seated desire for self-expression and were mostly made from materials, which could be easily obtained, in their natural environment; in this case the English countryside. Woodworkers decorated their wooden sticks with intricate hand carvings as we see in this example.

Pieces of folk art are ephemeral, simple, and often crude, though they are always enchanting. They were made by unskilled people, usually provincially, for everyday use and enjoyment, and are naively decorated, and made of basic materials. Folk art provides an excellent insight into the everyday life of ordinary people in times of old, and for that reason we love it.

A superb example of folk art in its true, unpretentious, pomp and splendour.