Back at the start of 2022, I sat down with world leading Rabologist, Anthony Moss. We spoke about his new book which was released in November 2021 'A Visual history of walking sticks and canes'. Well this July Anthony is back, fronting Hinton Magazines cover, I sat down with the gentleman again to speak about the success of his book, to see if he's added to the already phenomenal walking stick and cane collection he has and to learn about some upcoming projects.
Anthony, the last time we spoke it was about your book 'A Visual history of walking sticks and canes'. Since its release in October 2021, what is the kind of feedback you have received? Was it what you were expecting?
Initially I felt deflated for partly due to COVID and having to find a new Publisher it was an anti-climax.
The feedback has been wonderful.
The Book has arrived; it left me speechless; you have created a masterpiece! My fondest congratulations. I wrote a comment for Amazon; in Italian since it is directed to Italian readers. I wish that it would sell one million copies, because it deserves to be in all serious collectors’ shelves. Well, thanks again and all the best. I liked Deanna's poems!
Eddi Van Auken; WOW!! what an amazing, and fascinating book! It is so intensely, researched, detailed and broad in scope, with wonderful examples, text, historical documents, and personal commentary in every category. The mind boggles thinking about how you sourced, organized, managed, and archived all of it (a la Catherine Dike, but in English! ), but you did ! I see your whole hearts and minds in it, a personal and professional opus! And an inspiration for both old and new collectors. (P.S. I still believe in new collectors!!)
No one could absorb this amount of information at one reading, certainly not I, but I will tell you that every time I pick up your book, I discover something new, or remember something I'd forgotten. Or something I want to learn more about. Which is a lot! I look forward to that, and both of us look forward to seeing you sometime soon.
Looking back at the book you produced, is there anything you think you missed that should be in the book?
No matter how much the copy and contents are checked and rechecked there are always errors and omission. However, I was very limited in the number of images that the Publisher permitted due to cost. The Book was not meant to be a catalogue of the A&D Antique Walking Cane Collection, there are over 2600 canes, so my photographer had to be creative.
Therefore, we used collage images to increase the number of illustrations.
Nevertheless, there were Walking Cane I really wanted to include, and I was able managed to add more images thanks to the Editor.
Specifically, the rare Gadget Escritoire Writing Set Cane and Watch Walking Cane, which is probably a commission piece.
Nevertheless, with a limit of 800 images a collection of 2600 Walking Canes there were many Walking Canes that I could not include, so I illustrated many on my Instagram Page.
For those who know very little to nothing about walking sticks and canes, what makes it a good one to use?
Being practical as I use a Walking Cane it must be very comfortable in the hand and at the right height. The usual length is 37 inches. Whereas a Walking Cane used as a fashion item beauty is the key and the wearer is looking for some level of decoration and aesthetic value. Therefore, I wear Walking Sticks with handle types such as the Derby, L-shape, and Crook are not only elegant, but are also comfortable for heavy support and daily use.
Remember that the comfort, physical stability, and security of the walking stick is always a given priority.
The special property of the Derby handle, besides a comfortable hand support, is the elevated front part of the handle, which helps keep the hand from slipping. A combination of the Derby-Crook handle shapes might be very comfortable
However, for example, depending on your day or outdoor pursuits, you would probably use a long Hazelwood hiking stick for country walks or trekking.
Now if I am a Dandy, it’s a Dress Cane warn as a statement and very much part of his or her outfit.
Measuring the correct length of a Walking Cane: Stand upright with your arms relaxed by your side. Using a tape measure, measure the distance from the bony part of your wrist to the floor. You should be able to hold the cane with your arm bent at about 15 – degrees
Measuring the correct Walking Pole and Trekking Poles length: Stand upright holding or gripping the pole in front of the body with the elbow held next to the body. The elbow should form about a 90-degree angle. Trekking Poles should fit the hands also at a 90-degree angle the top above the waist.
You are a world leading Rabologist, for new traditional Walking stick and cane makers out there, what advice would you give them to make top quality, iconic pieces?
I wouldn’t be that presumptive as there are some very talented wonderful traditional Walking stick and cane makers, but internationally and in the UK.
One I would seriously recommend is a maker of Walking Canes in the traditional way by supplying custom made canes is Boris Palatnik, in the USA.
Boris Palatnik is a professional sculptor and creator of walking sticks. Palatnik left Russia to live in the United States in 1989 and established a small sculpture-design business. By the end of the 1990s, Palatnik was concentrating on designing walking canes, working in cast metal using the lost wax technique, which allows him to create many sophisticated art forms. His studio designs walking canes, gun canes, sword canes and hiking staffs. Some of his Canes magnificent. https://borispalatnik.com/
To start a collection today, a good-sized collection, what budget would one need?
This is a very personal decision and depends on a budget. I can see no reason why a representative collection of 30 Walking Canes is nice start to collecting canes.
The Collector could just concentrate on a particular period or just decorative Dress Canes or maybe Children’s Walking Canes. Even, at online Auctions the prices range from £150 to £1000 plus VAT and buyer’s premium.
For example, three Walking Canes could say £600 plus packing and delivery a total of £650. Therefore 30 canes could cost up to £7,000. Now if more funds are available 100 Walking Canes could cost a collector £100,000. On the other hand, Children’s Canes when you can find them even on EBay sell for between £25 and £60 but it will be a slow process.
When I started to collect Walking Canes, I was buying them for about £100 per Walking Cane, sometimes less.
What advice would you give a young collector?
The essential advice for a young collector is to buy quality, not quantity—a collection of 15 excellent Walking Canes is far better than a collection of rubbish.
Please beware of the Gadget Walking Canes as they are very often faked and created to deceive. So, unless the contents are practical or made as a presentation piece, it lets the buyer beware without some provenance. After a time, the collector can spot the genuine article.
Would you say you are still as obsessed with Walking Sticks & Canes as you have been over the last few decades?
The answer is YES. All collecting is an obsession and there is always one more Walking Cane that is a must have.
Every day I look at the online Auctions. Collecting is an obsession.
The 1920's were a popular decade for men having canes & umbrellas, a century on, in your expert opinion do you see them becoming more of a fashion statement again? Will they see the popularity rise again?
From the very start, through to the emergence of haute couture, through the Jazz Age and then through many years of austerity, culminating with World War II, the cane has held sway. The Art Deco period produced some of the most interesting Walking Stick ever made.
Well, even the 20’s the Umbrella took over from the Walking Cane as it is a multi-purpose Walking Cane – the ultimate Gadget Cane. Today at all the Royal Garden Parties every man carries a Rolled Umbrella.
Surprisingly, even today, the walking cane has retained its magic and is used in theatre, fashion shows and by more flamboyant dressers or dandies. If you are arranging a Fashion Launch or Shoot, on the TV program Strictly Come Dancing the Walking Cane or Dance Cane is still to be seen.
For the modern Dandy the Walking Cane is an important item of dress and a statement.
Try a Google Search and you will be surprised by the number of retailers and those selling Antique Walking Canes.
Of course Anthony, I must ask. Have you added any more walking sticks or canes to your collection?
I am afraid I am always adding to the collection even though I have run out of space. After the Book Launch and the reviews, I was offered more interesting Walking Canes that I could to the A&D Antique Walking Cane Collection. In many cases, it was difficult to refuse a purchase. I was also able to add some wonderful Umbrellas.
Is there anything you are currently working on that you could tell us about? Any new books?
I have two Books in the pipeline. The sequel will contain a catalogue of the entire Collection and a New Book on antique writing instruments - Mightier than the sword - a visual history of the Pencil and Pen. One of my other passions is our A&D Antique Writing Instrument Collection. There is a WEB site: http://antiquecanes.net
and an Instagram Site: www.instagram.com/antique_canes
Anthony, Thank you for your time.
You can learn more about Anthony Moss, His collection and his book, 'A Visual history of walking sticks and canes' over at antiquecanes.net.
You can get yourself a copy of Anthony's book from the following retailers; Waterstones, Foyles, WH Smith, Browns Books & Amazon.