The golden age of such canes is XIX century, but the XVIII and XVII had made their contributions as well. So important they have become in the days of Louis XIV, that even women added them to the list of their accessories, both for aesthetic and pragmatic reasons. Ladies, unless supported by a strong arm or a walking stick, do not venture on your delicate heels anywhere near Chateau Versailles gardens: Sandy paths can be treacherous, especially after a few rains.
The differences between man’s and woman’s canes are not so subtle. First of all it is a matter of size: the woman’s cane is much longer. And then, obviously the shape of the knob! Since women, especially young and graceful, would never use canes to lean upon, but would rather support their weight by placing them at a distance of a stretched-out arm, holding the shaft like a standard-bearer, the knob need not conform to the shape of the hand.
Canes were notorious for their secret compartments, they used to contain weapons, perfumes, once I have seen a veritable poly-pharmacy, and then, most commonly, the hidden compartment served as a purse. Then in the days when libertines could no longer flaunt their attitudes, the erotic images also went into hiding!
The Victorian era made the cane an indispensable companion of every gentleman. Yet the one I am showing below belonged to a woman. How do I know that? The size! The shape! Finally it has the address of a famous XIX century bordello inscribed on its side: 122 rue de Provence. I can even read there that its proprietress was employed under the name of Flora! Here is another familiar address: 12 rue Chaba…, but shall we look inside? Yes! A winner!
Some girls carried whips inside, probably for personal protection. This mighty thing belonged to Madam Kelly, Madam is added to show some respect. That’s how you addressed her, “Good evening, Madam!” when you knocked on the door of Chabanais Hotel, just to pay your respects. And for a nominal fee she would give you one of her tokens, not for a drink, the drinks were on the house.
Other canes: Raising Cane: XIX Century Shadow Theater