This ivory-handled cane has a Classical nude kneeling on a pedestal. The shaft of the cane is 38" long and made of Coromandel. It is circa 1860, possibly English, and sold for $8050.
The 1 1/8" quartz handle of this rosewood cane depicts a furry-faced cat with cabochon sapphire eyes set in gold bezels. The cane realized $4887.50.
Far surpassing its $700/900 estimate, this Chinese silver and horn cane sold for $2645.
This circa 1690 English ivory piquÃ© cane with lines and flowers went at $4025.
This circa 1860 Remington small-crook gun cane curio is made of gutta-percha. The gun is loaded by unscrewing it from the cane shaft and inserting a .22-caliber rim-fire cartridge into the chamber. The gun cocks with a straight pull that allows a notched sight to pop up for aiming. A round trigger under the handle fires the piece. The mechanism closes by manually pushing down on the notched sight. From the Dr. Lawrence Pinkner collection, it sold for $5175.
A great piece from the Pinkner collection was this French La Terrible defensive cane. When the canes shaft was pulled, five blades popped from slots in the brown-painted metal shaft. Having a 4" high horn pistol grip, the 34 2/3" long cane made $7475.
Tradewinds Antiques, Peabody, Massachusetts
by Susan Emerson Nutter
Photos courtesy Tradewinds Antiques
It's been 20 years since Henry Taron and his wife, Nancy (now deceased), decided to delve into doing live all-cane auctions through their business, Tradewinds Antiques. Their first sale took place in 1993 at the first International Cane Collectors Conference, held in Rockport, Maine.
"The auction was such a success Nancy and I decided we should do it every year," Taron explained. Actually, they ended up doing two auctions each year, and this April 28 event was the 40th live auction hosted by Taron, who was helped in the endeavor by his son, Christopher Taron.
Offered at the Peabody Marriott Hotel in Peabody, Massachusetts, were 186 lots of carefully chosen canes, many of them uncommon, and all of the highest quality. The highlights of this selection were several examples from the Dr. Lawrence Pinkner system cane collection, as well as pieces from several other collections.
It was thought that possibly the California Penal Code section 653o that has been in the news recently concerning the illegalities of selling some animal body parts within the state of California might affect sales at this auction. According to Taron, however, that was not the case. "The antiques industry is watching closely to see how interstate commerce-how sales outside of California-might be affected in the future."
One aspect that did surface at this event was a loosening up of the market. "It is not back to where it was just a few years ago, but there was definitely an upswing of activity and interest in antique canes," Taron stated.
The highest-selling cane of the sale had an elephant ivory handle carved in the shape of a Classical nude that measured 4 1/8" high x 1Â½" at its widest. The nude kneeling on a pedestal is wonderfully done, and the ivory has a nice creamy age patina. Taron felt the nude could possibly be "Leda about to bathe in the stream before her encounter with Zeus as a swan," or possibly Venus, the goddess of love and mother of Cupid. The other attributes of the cane included a 1/3" decorated gilt collar on a Coromandel shaft ending in a 1" horn ferrule. The overall length of this perhaps English circa 1860 cane was 38", and it sold for $8050 (includes buyer's premium).
A 17th-century English ivory piquÃ© cane with lines and flowers decorating its very old elephant ivory handle brought $4025, just missing its $5000 low estimate. The handle of the 37" long honey-toned Malacca cane was 3Â¼" high and was decorated with a piquÃ© diamond in a circle and a rosette on the top, with blossoms and curvy lines on the sides. The eyelets of the handle were also rimmed with piquÃ© circles, and a Â¾" silver collar punch-decorated with tiny starbursts added to the cane's overall attractiveness.
The top cane from the Pinkner collection was an excellent circa 1870 French "La Terrible" defensive cane that made $7475. It had a horn pistol grip handle that was 4" high. A quarter turn to the right would open several thin slots that ran down the cane's 34 2/3" long shaft. A strong straight pull made five razor-sharp double blades pop from those slots. Taron told how these canes were used by the rioters during the infamous 19th-century Paris riots. "As police would engage the crowds, rioters would fend them off with their canes. If the police grasped the shaft, the cane would be activated, and the 'terrible' razors would inflict their wounds. These weapons were so notorious that the authorities banned their sales and use."
Another Pinkner collection example that sold strong was the circa 1870 "Redoubtable" curio cane, another weapon cane, that brought $5462.50. Giving the 35" long shaft a straight pull would cause eight small razors to pop out down the cane's length. Having a silver knob handle that was 1Â½" high x 1 3/8" in diameter, this cane also sported a floral-decorated band on its Malacca shaft.
A circa 1910 cane from the Pinkner collection sporting a blade of another kind was the silver and Malacca sword cane curio that realized $3450. A decorated silver handle showing traces of old French hallmarks and measuring 1Â½" high topped the cane. The Malacca shaft of this 35Â½" long cane was in very good condition. About 4Â½" down the cane there was a silver button that when pushed released a 27" long engraved blade with twin blood-grooves and decorated quillons or hand guards that would snap open. Etched on the blade was "O. Adam & Co., Paris," and it was also marked "Toledo" for the famous Spanish blade maker, according to Taron.
A bid of $5175 was needed to win a Remington small crook gun cane curio. Having a semi-crook gutta-percha handle that measured about 3Â¾" along the arc, the cane had a Â¼" nickel collar on the shaft dressed in gutta-percha veneer that hid the metal of the gun. Taron explained how the gun operated. "The piece is loaded by unscrewing and inserting a twenty-two-caliber rim-fire cartridge into the chamber. It cocks with a straight pull that allows a notched sight to pop up for aiming. A round trigger under the handle fires the piece. The mechanism closes by manually pushing down on the notched sight."
The cane's hollow nickel ferrule, 1Â¼" long, was marked "282," which indicates the number of canes of this type that Remington had produced to this point. From the Dr. Lawrence Pinkner collection, this cane was thought to be made around 1860.
Though ivory-handled examples and curio canes continue to be top sellers, a cane with a furry-faced cat handle done in quartz was appreciated, as its $4887.50 selling price indicated. Thought to be Viennese and circa 1900, this 36" long cane with a dark rosewood shaft that ended in a 1 3/8" horn ferrule was topped with a finely detailed cat-face quartz handle. Adding to the cat's facial expression was the use of cabochon sapphires set in gold bezels for the eyes. There was also a Â½" purple enameled collar with guilloche that was overlaid with festoons of hanging gold rope garlands. Fancy and stylish, this cane was stunning.
There were some disappointments. With all the interest in anything Asian, it was surprising that a China trade porcelain cane made only $1955. The 3Â½" high cylindrical porcelain handle had a blue rosette painted on top with gold overlay at its center. The sides of the handle were decorated with rings of blue scrolls and flowers that framed a painted central scene of flowers and bamboo. The cane's chestnut wood shaft measured 36" long and ended in a 7/8" long horn ferrule. Taron had found the circa 1885 cane in France, where it was probably made; the handle was imported.
"I was surprised the China trade cane did not do better just because it is rare as hell," Taron explained. "But it was not an outstanding example. The blue transfer was not the best; not crisp. Still, in twenty years of selling canes this is the first China trade example I have had for sale."
On the flip side, an impressive Chinese silver and horn cane with a $900 high estimate made a statement when it was taken to $2645. The cane's 1Â½" high silver knob handle was smooth on the top with sides decorated in repoussÃ© featuring a palace garden scene that included a seated sage or nobleman and servants. The shaft of the circa 1890 cane, 33Â½" long, was a single piece of worked horn, thought to be bovine.
Cane-related items also were well received by those participating. A cow horn and brass stick stand, made of three long, large brass-tipped cow horns with three decorated brass loops for holding canes, sold for $2530. From the Southwest, circa 1900, this stand would be wonderful for displaying a cane collection.
Hosting cane auctions for the past 20 years, Taron has had to adapt as technology advances became available. For the past two auctions, Taron used Live Auctioneers, which now gives him a worldwide audience. "People do not want to travel if they can bid via phone or on line, which is understandable," Taron stated. "Our telephone bidders made a strong presence," he added, "as were those bidding on line. And we still did have a nice in-house crowd of buyers, which was great."
Taron does the auctioneering, with Bruce Gamage of Rockland, Maine, doing the calling. Taron's son, Christopher, is the tech guy. "He maintains our Web site and handles all aspects of the business that have to do with computers," Taron noted.
Taron was also excited to be asked to be part of the eighth International Cane Collectors Convention that will be held in Chicago in September. "Our fall sale will take place September fifteen during the convention in Chicago," Taron explained. "We were asked to bring our fall sale there so those attending the International Cane Collectors Convention would have an event like this to attend during their time in Chicago."
What a fitting scenario for Tradewinds Antiques as it celebrates its 20th year offering high-quality canes to the massesto host an auction in its 20th year at the event where it hosted its first auction.
For more information, call (978) 526-4085 or visit the Web site (www.tradewindsantiques.com).