Throughout the ages walking sticks have been used in different roles. They have served as a faithful companion (the pilgrim’s crook), as a symbol of power (for a tribal chieftain or king), as a religious symbol (like the staff of Moses (Mussa) or a bishop’s crozier), or they have simply been used as an item of fashion. In all cases a walking stick has conveyed something about the nature of the person carrying it.
It is hard to know exactly when they were introduced. However, Tutankhamun has been dubbed the first “collector” of walking sticks as so many (more than 300) were found in his tomb.
Later on in history, no doubt walking sticks were brought into vogue by the kings of France. They became the height of fashion and were used at all levels of society.
The golden age of the walking stick was in the 19th century. At that time many famous jewellers were manufacturing walking-stick knobs (Fabergé, Cartier, Tiffany & Co. etc.).
Today, walking sticks are no longer widely used. The decline started at the beginning of the 20th century. People’s daily habits changed in the wake of the first world war. The walking stick fell victim to this change in habits. It stayed in fashion to some extent in the period between the two world wars, but did not survive the second.
Now walking sticks are used almost exclusively for medical or utilitarian purposes. There are, however, some collectors who are actively seeking out older designs of walking sticks in order to complete their collections.