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History of Cane 11

The Cane at the end of the 17th century and in the 18th century

During the Seventeenth century “grandeur” is the key word. In Versailles, princes compete in lavishness and magnificence, whether in their homes or in their attire. Everybody looks up to the King, known for his splendour; he relishes gold jewellery and therefore canes are decorated with it.

The King, carries a cane, symbol of his absolute power. Everybody imitates him, but not in his presence (it should be noted that the King was small and carried a cane to heighten his stature).

Prestige becomes a ”must”, some of its manifestations, reaching outrageous proportions .

The cane of the Marshal Duke of Richelieu, a true work of art, was worth a fortune. But its price was exceed by the canes of Finance Ministers and wealthy financiers such as La Popeliniere or Samuel Bernard. Their canes were valued at over ten thousand ecus.

For years, strokes of canes were standard punishment for valets. But it was not unusual for masters to use a cane to settle arguments during an altercation.

Fashion is Ladies’ business ; women could not let the men, have the monopoly of a happy and splendid fashion.

They also used the cane to complete their dresses. It was a pretty sight to see all these young ladies, during the revolt known as ” La Fronde”, with their high heels and long corsets, simpering with men wearing wigs with curls, and putting on airs. Actually canes were helping them, to maintain their balance on high heels.

It was with one of these elegant crooks, bearing the colours of La Fronde that the “Grande Mademoiselle” ordered the shooting against the Armies.

Women with class always carried a cane ,measuring approximately one meter twenty, made of ebony, ivory, tortoiseshell, Malacca, or lacquered woods .The cane was secured to the wrist with a “safety” device, usually a ribbon passing through a hole in the cane, and known as a “trimming”. Golden or silver knobs inlaid with precious stones had various shapes such as “rounds” “ operas “ ,”crutches” and ”milords”.

The long golden cane, known as “cane a la Tronchin” was carried by older people, judges and men of high social status.

The rod, flexible and collapsible, was mostly carried by young people, running around in the streets .

As an fashion accessory, the cane had to match the attire just as a piece of jewellery does.

During this period characterised by luxury and pleasure, the fad for frivolous objects was at its peak: the cane was obviously one of them.

No theatre play would be staged without canes : le Cid ,Cinna ,Andromaque , all tragedies written by Racine or Corneille included characters carrying a cane.

Lulli is the first musician who used a cane to lead an orchestra. Canes were responsible for his death: his foot was hit accidentally by his cane, became gangrenous and caused his death.

The Cane in the 18th century

During the reigns of Louis the fifteenth and the sixteenth, the cane grows considerably in length: this helps to have a majestic posture and gait. It is also a necessary addition to the wig.

This is not a break with the preceding period, but just an evolution toward more neatness and refinement. The discovery of Pompei and Herculanum, influence the taste, towards antique aesthetics with its linear, geometric and simple shapes.

This is not a break with the preceding period, but just an evolution toward more neatness and refinement. The discovery of Pompei and Herculanum, influence the taste, towards antique aesthetics with its linear, geometric and simple shapes.

One of the benefits of the Revolution is the equality of all in relation to the cane. The cane has lost its character of nobility ; It becomes democratic.

Before 1789, the cane, featured in the hands of a noble man, is proud, arrogant, lofty and insolent. It is always ready to hit the back of the bourgeois, who accepts the principle of hereditary power. It is the material translation of feudal power, of the predominance of the strongest, which is commonly accepted.

But now, the cane takes on a bourgeois character. It loses its arrogance, and becomes ingratiating. Simple people, bourgeois and nobles, carry a cane and salute each other with it.

Under the Directoire period, the cane shortens again. During these troubles times, the cane of the Incroyables ( young people who wore incredible attire, hence the name) appears: it is a fairly ugly stick, twirled around by these young men . Sometimes animal gut is wrapped around it, and eventually a straight sabre is hidden in it : it is then called an “executive power”.

They were used to hit the jacobinists and the terrorists.