Period: Late Nineteenth Century/ Early Twentieth Century
Length: 29.75 inches (the whole)
The ebonised trick cane with the horn handle unscrewing to reveal a pipe and the ferule unscrewing to reveal a mouthpiece.
Condition is good aside from the ferrule thread being worn meaning it is loose. Otherwise all is well with this amusing gadget cane that would have been assembled and re-assembled many a time over. More importantly, no parts are missing or have been replaced and the presence of the horn to the handle is a particularly desirable design feature.
System canes, also known as gadget or trick canes, are probably the most highly sought after variety of walking stick and have been in existence since around the sixth century when two Persian monks smuggled silkworm larvae out of China inside hollowed-out staves. The premise is that they are used with dual purpose, both as a stick in the conventional sense, as well as some additional hidden meaning or function; in this example, a smokers’ pipe.
Amongst the four categories that exist for trick canes, this example falls into that of city canes. These gadget canes were considered to be fashionable and included items such as cigarettes, opera glasses and as we see here, pipes. Some of these dual-purpose canes were even used as musical instruments such as a violin cane which contained a bow hidden within the shaft of the gadget cane. These types of dual-purpose canes are some of the most expensive and sought after.
In original condition, this is a highly desirable piece, both for those who smoke or collect smoking paraphernalia or collectors of high end gadget canes themselves.