1881 Carved & Polychromed Cane

Value (2012) | $4,000 Retail$5,000 Retail
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GUEST:
Well, it was a cane that was brought to my mother's house by my aunt in the early '80s. We had never seen it before, but she was kind of a worldly person that was all over the place. So she may have acquired it anywhere. She bought it in the early '80s and used it up until the day she died.

APPRAISER:
So this was actually her cane?

GUEST:
Absolutely.

APPRAISER:
And you've done a little research on the maker?

GUEST:
His name was J.D. Batz. He carved it in 1881, and he was a sheepherder. He would winter in California, and carve canes, I guess. From what I can find out, he carved five of them similar to this. He used to take them to the agricultural fairs in California. And I found several places where he won prizes or a diploma, it said on one of them. And $2.50 on another one, so...

APPRAISER:
As prize money?

GUEST:
As prize money, yes.

APPRAISER:
Well, it kind of makes sense because it has a very feral-like theme to the cane.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Many times when we find wonderful canes, we say the artist who made them was one and done. The artist made one piece, and he was satisfied with his work and he really did not create a body of work. But J.D. Batz had a small body of work. I have never heard of him. So in all the books on canes and all of my work with canes, I've never heard of J.D. Batz. So I'm thrilled to see a piece of his work.

GUEST:
Good, good.

APPRAISER:
And as we explore the cane, it's really extraordinary. It says on the top there are 182 figures carved into the cane.

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
Wow.

GUEST:
Yeah, it's amazing.

APPRAISER:
I mean, this piece of wood is his canvas. You start over here with fishes. Here, we see a beautiful hammerhead shark, we go down here, and we're visiting the animal kingdom. We go further down, and we get into reptiles. And here, we have this alligator.

GUEST:
Alligator,yeah.

APPRAISER:
And insects.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
He wrote what each of the figures and animals were. At the very bottom, we see a different tone to the wood, because that's where a metal ferrule, it is called, would have been. And cane makers put those on the end of their canes just to protect the woods, because they were made to be used. Over here on top, he used a piece of bone for the handle. Overall, wonderful piece of work. Now, the main drawback to this is the fact that some point in its history it was shellacked.

GUEST:
It appears to be, yes.

APPRAISER:
It was varnished. And the varnish, what happens, it turns yellow. It's covering up and darkening some of the wonderful color and the polychrome paint that J.D. Batz used when he produced the cane. So it holds back the value a little bit. I think a nice retail value on a beautiful piece like this would be in the $4,000 to $5,000 range.

GUEST:
Oh, wow, great.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Allan Katz Americana
Woodbridge, CT
Appraised value (2012)
$4,000 Retail$5,000 Retail
Event
Rapid City, SD (July 14, 2012)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paint, Wood

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