Exhibit in detail. History of a walking stick
The history of a walking stick begins more than a thousand years ago and goes way back in past. Back then, the primary function of a walking stick was to help a person walk. The ancestor of a walking stick was an ordinary knotted stick, used in ancient times by almost every traveller. Over time, the stick was shortened and decorated, until by the 17th century it gained the appearance familiar to all of us -- an integral attribute of any secular person of that time. Later, it obtained one more function. Walking stick became part of the owner's image. Beautiful and refined walking stick became a symbol of presentability and significance of an important person.
In the 17th – 18th centuries, walking sticks became very popular in Europe. A walking stick became a fashionable accessory, a must for a gallant person. Possession of an exclusive walking stick by a person and the ability to handle it in accordance with the rules of etiquette demonstrated the high position of a person. Most attention was paid to the handgrip of a walking stick, and no gold, silver or precious stones were spared to decorate it. Folding walking stick came into general use and sometimes was used as weapon. Walking sticks were sometimes used as hiding places -- they were often made hollow inside. A walking stick could be used to make a seat to rest on. Craftsmen often mounted binoculars and lorgnettes in walking sticks for convenience when visiting theatres.
In Russia, interest in the new detail of a costume ensemble emerged only in the early 18th century, thanks to the activities of Peter the Great. The Russian Emperor, who was well acquainted with European culture and everyday life, amassed an extensive collection of walking sticks. He paid special attention to those items that were characterised not so much by refined decoration as by interesting technical solutions. He had a walking stick-sword, a walking stick-ruler, and a peculiar walking stick with a spyglass in the handgrip. Of course, the tsar's collection also included walking sticks ornamented with precious stones. As a sign of special favour, Peter the Great often presented walking sticks to court nobility. It is a well-known historical fact: for the victory at Kalisz Peter the Great granted Alexander Menshikov an award walking stick made according to the Tsar's design, the handgrip of which was studded with diamonds and crowned with a large emerald.
From the 30s of the 17th century, ladies began to use walking sticks occasionally. In France, decorative ladies' walking sticks appeared and became a fashionable ladies' accessory. A walking stick gradually turned into a decorative item. Some historians connect the appearance of ladies' walking sticks with the fashion for high heels. Walking in such shoes was very uncomfortable, so women looked for a handy assistant - a walking stick. Women's walking sticks were usually thinner than men's, and the handgrip was often made of hand-painted porcelain.
Around the same years, walking sticks was included in the accoutrements of the officer corps, helping to maintain discipline in compounds and on the march. It was the century that attached great importance to symbols and allegories, attentive to detail. Everything mattered, including the material from which an item was made. Oak wood symbolised strength, beech wood symbolised majesty, wood of cedar symbolised durability, boxwood symbolised hardness and courage. However, the most attention was paid to the handgrip, which was decorated with gold, silver and precious stones. A walking stick of a nobleman cost a fortune, and often a jeweler worked on it after mahogany worker. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich had several luxurious walking sticks. The handgrip of one of them was made of a huge carnelian with enamelling on metal and precious stones, while the other was decorated with golden double-headed eagle with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.
Walking stick was a favourite gift among nobles and royalty. For example, Catherine II was presented with walking sticks, to which she was have a penchant. The Prussian King Frederick the Great presented the Empress with the walking stick with an amber handgrip in gold setting frame gemmed with diamonds. From the Danes, Catherine II received as a gift on the occasion of her victory in the Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774) a walking stick in which a clockwork movement was embedded that set in motion 21 miniatures with battle scenes.
During the reign of Alexander I (1801-1825) the shape of the walking stick returned to a graceful outline. Since mid-19th century, functional walking sticks became popular in Europe. About 1,500 patents were issued for the production of various modifications of the walking sticks-swords, walking sticks for doctors, fishermen and even walking sticks that could be turned into bicycles. At the same time, walking sticks with a hooked handle spread. They were purchased by those who did not know how to handle this object, and it was most often hung on the arm for dignity. The 19th century can deservedly be called the century of a walking stick: just look in fashion magazines, where, until the beginning of the First World War, an elegantly dressed man was always depicted with a walking stick.
Until mid-20th century, a walking stick was not only a detail of high society toilette, but also a collector’s item. Men's and women's walking sticks were brought from distant trips and ordered from the best artisans. Many products were truly unique and quite expensive. They were willingly shown to guests and left as a legacy to children and grandchildren.
Over time, walking sticks have become mainly collection items.
Any cane is comprised of a handgrip (pommel), a tip and a shaft (stick). A handgrip is the most changing and liable to the impact of fashion. The material used to make a handgrip may differ -- it can be glass, crystal, porcelain. There are handgrips decorated with gold, precious stones or made of ivory and silver. There are several basic types of handgrips: round (538/ДПИ), T-shaped (494.1-2/ДПИ, 3818.1-2/ДПИ, 489/ДПИ), L-shaped (8770/ДПИ, 285.1-2/ДПИ), figured and hook-shaped, in the form of an animal or bird's head (20/ДПИ).
One of the walking sticks from the museum Collection exposition is presented at the thematic exhibition "The Order of Things" that is in full swing in the museum now. This red-brown lacquered bamboo walking stick with a smooth metal tip and egg-shaped handgrip was created in the late 19th - early 20th centuries. The handgrip is made of milky white ornamental stone and is embedded in a round ornately shaped base made from golden colour metal.