The cane emerged as an important fashion accessory for men during the seventeenth century and was every bit as important in a carefully dressed man's wardrobe as gloves and a hat. Although people had carried rough walking sticks or simple canes for centuries, it was during this period that these sticks became carefully crafted items carried by every gentleman. While the most common material for the body of the cane was a wooden shaft, the tops and bottoms of the cane were where a man could distinguish himself. Cane bottoms, or tips, were usually wrapped in metal, and gold or silver was not out of the question for the richest people. Cane tops, or heads, could be topped in gold, silver, amber, imported ivory, or other luxurious and durable materials. These handles could be as simple as a round ball or they could be intricately shaped and carved. Some men wrapped a length of decorative ribbon or a tasseled string around the head of their cane, both as decoration and as a way to hold the cane to the wrist. Canes and other walking sticks remained popular into the twentieth century.
Cassin-Scott, Jack. Costume and Fashion in Colour, 1550–1760. Introduction by Ruth M. Green. Dorset, England: Blandford Press, 1975.
Ruby, Jennifer. The Stuarts: Costume in Context. London, England: B. T. Batsford, 1988.
[ See also Volume 3, Eighteenth Century: Walking Sticks ]