The History of

Fraternal Canes & Walking Sticks

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 by Artisans of the Valley

 Eric M. Saperstein

 

Gentleman’s fashion through the 1800’s into the earlier third of the 20th century dictated the requirement of a cane with any formal attire.  Popularity soared especially amongst veterans and members of fraternal organizations, such as the Freemasons.  Albert Stevens’s Cyclopedia of Fraternities (New York, 1907) estimates that nearly 10 million, of the 76 million turn of the century US population, were members of fraternal organizations. Presented to commemorate, such as the Boston Post traditional presentation of a cane to the oldest citizen of a town, carried as functional supports and means of defense, or coveted as family heirlooms, canes have been part of American society for several hundred years.

 

Not only are canes necessary to ceremony and ritual, members express pride in their groups, military, political, patriotic, religious, sister and brotherhoods, etc through personal possessions. Canes, scepters, and staffs depicted events surrounding the fraternity, many ornately decorated with insignias, symbolism, life events, and badges of honor for the organization. The use of canes as fashion turned towards bragging staffs, lovingly carved or inscribed with details of the life of its bearer. The famous list of canes in the Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum each illustrate this tradition, providing insight into the life and history of past Masons such as Robert E. Lee, who’s staff depicted the accomplishments of his distinguished military career.

 

Artisans of the Valley is a unique father and son company specializing in period furniture reproduction and restoration, custom built-in woodworking, and unique sculptural folk art.  A wide spance of specialties, but these two eccentrics enjoy testing their skills across the woodworking spectrum.

 

Master Craftsman Stan Saperstein, the father, and founder of Artisans of the Valley, enjoys whittling and folk art in his spare time. Now retired from the furniture side of the business run by his son Eric, he has perfected his own unique variety of traditional civil war era hand made walking staffs, creating a twist on a nearly lost art form. Each stick is a signed one of a kind, offering an individual the opportunity to choose their own personal statement by the staff they carry. Through creativity and dedication, it is his desire to maintain the tradition of cane carving, by offering his skills to members of fraternal organizations to create unique and personal staffs fit to depict their lives.

 

Custom insignias can be carved, whittled, sculpted, painted, or burned into the finished stick including family trees, favorite designs, fraternity letters, business logos, or other endless options. Stanley specializes in producing a walking stick that contains as many personal distinctions as possible. Staffs are commonly topped with a whittled sculpture. Options include, bear heads, eagles, and wolves to the likeness of Lincoln, Lee, or Grant.

 

Collectors whom boast to have one of Stanley's staffs in their possession include the famous author and walking stick collector George H. Meyer, author of "American Folk Art Canes." Around the country, the popularity of cane collecting is a growing hobby; Forbes Magazine has recently reported a great art investment, American Folk Art Canes. These pieces of 1800 – 1930 Americana have soared in value in the past few years. This leap in value sparked a new interest in handmade canes, both antique and new.

 

Stan Saperstein is a historian and reenanctor, a member of the Sons of Union Civil War Veterans, a previous officer and continuing member of the Camp Olden Round Table & Museum, he now servers on the board of directors of the Swan Foundation, a group dedicated to preserving the history of the American Revolution through education. Stan is the last of the breed of formally trained Master Craftsman, approaching 30 years of experience in cabinetry, furniture design, joinery, & woodcarving. Now retired, he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher to his son Eric, the new owner of Artisans of the Valley, assuring that a 400-year lineage of craftsman reaches the next generation.

 

Custom wood canes are available with anything the customer wishes on the cane. Most personalized canes sell for around $125, with some custom works upwards of $300. Staffs or canes can be shipped anywhere. The investment is very reasonable, considering the current upswing in value of collectable crafts, and you will own a conversation piece that never goes out of style. Please take a moment to visit Artisans’ website to review Stanley’s canes, under Woodcarving & Sculpture, as well as the other woodworking illustrated on their site. Artisans of the Valley is available by commission to provide custom fraternal furniture, or to provide restoration services on existing antique works.

 

More information is available at www.artisansofthevalley.com

 

Please feel free to contact Stanley & Eric Saperstein at the following address:

 

Artisans of the Valley, LLC

103 Corrine Drive

Pennington, NJ 08534

(609) 737-9364

woodworkers@artisansofthevalley.com

 

         

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