1826 English Gadget Cane

Value (2011) | $3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

Well, it's a cane. It's got a telescope and a pistol in it, so it's got three basic parts to it.

Now, how did you acquire it?

My father got it. In 1943, he was stationed in Bishop's Stortford, England, and they had set up a hospital there, just a tent hospital, and he was working in the hospital and they had fenced off a large area and the area had mushrooms growing in there that the locals had gathered for some years. And he was asked by a local girl to gather some mushrooms for him. She threw a basket over the fence and he gathered mushrooms, and as I understand it, this happened several times and pretty soon he got invited to go to dinner one night. Her father became fond of my father and gave him this cane.


Wanted him to have it.

So it was basically a gift.

It was a gift.

It is a pretty unique cane. The top end here has a single shot flintlock gun, basically. And it's got this quick release mechanism so that if you were in a bind, you could pull it off very quickly and fire. The mechanism is such that it has a folding trigger which folds down when you cock it. It also has its maker signed on the barrel, and it says, "Inventor", which is very interesting, because clearly this was meant to project the fact that this was a unique object, a unique invention, it was taking a step forward. The tip comes off, and that would hold patches and flints and extra material for the gun. The center section comes apart and we have a nice two-draw, one two-draw spyglass. These kinds of walking sticks or canes are affectionately referred to as gadget canes, because it's a gadget. I mean, it's a compendium of devices; it's not just one device. What's interesting about this too is the wrap on the outside is a material called baleen. We can date it because this cane was given as a gift from a William van der Kleft to a Samuel Platt.

Yes, sir.

And it's dated 1826, so that puts it in context. It was most likely new when it was given as a gift. The maker certainly of the gun is the Mr. Kleft, whether or not he was involved in the overall production of the cane is unclear. What's also interesting is the lower section comes apart, and we have here another bit that looks like it's missing something, and it's unclear at this stage exactly what that did, but clearly because it came apart, it had another function. So we have a gadget cane that had not one, not two, but actually three different functions together with a storage compartment on the top. As far as gadget canes go, it's got all the pieces that you want to see. There are some condition issues,

Yes, sir.

But they're not so bad. There are some issues with the baleen, some minor insect damage, that's really minor. Actually people like to see that because it gives more assurance of the age. Some wear to the leather, and some of the fittings need to be tightened up a bit. I would say at auction, we're probably talking, you know, $3,000 to $5,000, with I would say good potential because the market for this is quite strong, and once the collectors kind of get involved, they might really go fighting over it. It's a great piece and I'm excited to see it.


Appraisal Details

Gary Piattoni, Inc.
Evanston, IL
Appraised value (2011)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
19th Century
Metal, Wood

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