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Walking sticks with extras – like a card table!

This collection of walking sticks include every essential item for a 19th Century gentleman- and a few none essential items.Thinking like an engineer the ingenuity needed to incorporate every possible necessity in a walking stick appealed to the late Gordon Bramah, deceased. Walking sticks were developed to not only facilitate walking but for fashion and for defensive reasons. Walking sticks come in many shapes and sizes and are highly sought by collectors, at this specialist auction it was the Russian buyers that found a home for many of the sticks in the collection. The fifty-one walking sticks incorporated useful things like a flask and drinking cup and another with a cork screw; a fishing rod might also be useful- that’s the meat and drink taken care of, what about finding your way- a compass and a telescope might be handy, as the one illustrated here that made £2,550.

This Victorian stepped wooden walking stick, has a brass handle carrying the crest of the Kings Liverpool Regiment, the top of the handle containing a compass, and the brass stem, a multi-section spy glass, it made the top price of £2,550 in the specialist auction.

Other examples incorporated a battery operated lamp and even a folding card table. Some of the defense walking sticks sold well, some were straight out of the TV series The Avengers and secret agent John Steed would have been proud to carry around, likewise the useful version of an umbrella walking stick- probably one of the most useful items for our Derbyshire climate.

A very rare system cane, having a telescopic shaft incorporating a folding card table believed to be designed for use on a train, made £630.

It was around the 17th or 18th century that a solid walking stick took over from the sword as an essential part of a gentleman's wardrobe. In addition to its value as a decorative accessory, it also continued to fulfill some of the function of the sword as a weapon. Often made from malacca (the stem of the rattan cane) with a rounded metal grip, also used for umbrellas, although it is not clear who made this example of an umbrella/walking stick in this collection but it could well have been the Samuel Fox Company in Stocksbridge, Sheffield.

This unusual malacca walking stick is for fans of phrenology- the dubious science of judging a person’s character by the bumps on their head. It has a silver mount hall marked for Birmingham 1903. Its unusual nature earnt it a premium bid of £750 in the specialist auction.

It is believed to be the Englishman - Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) who made the umbrella, as we know it today popular, previously considered to be purely a feminine accessory. However, Hanway’s memorial plaque in Westminster Abbey honours his commitment to abandoned children and prostitutes, but does not mention his ground breaking service to the rain umbrella. It should be noted that before people in England and elsewhere used umbrellas to protect them selves against the rain, the "portable roof" was employed primarily to provide shade from the sun. Around circa 1800 an umbrella weighed approximately 10 lbs, as its frame consisted of wooden rods and whalebone. Even Wellington, the victor of Waterloo, owned an umbrella made of waxed canvas which included a rapier hidden in the handle. It should be remembered that in those days the only covered transport was the private coach or Sedan chair.

Umbrellas were very heavy, ungainly things made with heavy cotton fabric, waterproofed by oiling or waxing and mounted on a long, stout stick of about 1" in diameter.Then in the mid 1800's came the development of the Fox Steel Ribs and Frames and so the modern umbrella was born. At the time of Queen Victoria in 1852 Samuel Fox from Stocksbridge, Sheffield, invented the steel frame which reduced the weight. Due in some part to tariff-free raw materials from its colonies, England was able to produce inexpensive umbrellas - with production costs often less than a penny.

The English word "umbrella" reveals its original function, as it derives from the Latin word "umbra", meaning shadow, with "umbrella" meaning "little shadow". Regardless of whether its function was to ward off the sun or rain, From the Victorian period the umbrella has hardly changed: black, slim, and precisely rolled. Walking stick and Umbrella handles, on the other hand have developed into an art form of their own. Whether gold-plated or in sterling silver, leather, horn and cane such as whangee and malacca, or with an integrated flashlight, pencil, watch, pill box, compass or drinking glass, many of these examples were included in the late Gordon Bramah’s collection.

As featured in the June Reflections magazine the unlikely find of a 17th Century Ethiopian bible in Great Longstone, near Bakewell made £480 in the recent specialist auction. Handwritten on vellum in Ge'ez script with some colour illustrations in a distinctive Ethiopian style. The pages are bound between two thick dark wooden covers and the binding is woven natural string. The Ge'ez language is what most of the literature of Christian Abyssinia is written in and comes from the ancient Aksumitic Empire. Ethiopia can lay a claim to being one of the oldest Christian countries and they practice a distinctive form of the religion, much of which would not be familiar to other Christians. Books like these are difficult to date, the oldest known are from the 13th century.

Perhaps you also have jewellery, antiques and collectables that might be valuable? If so, it is worth getting the advice of an Independent Antiques Valuer to assess your items.

For further information please contact Vivienne Milburn on Bakewell 01629 640210 or Mobile 07870 238788

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