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The Secret about Gadget Canes and Why You’ll Love Them!

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Gadget canes and interesting and fun to collect and they hold a secret…Today I’m sharing my collection and telling you a bit more about this interesting antique.

Somewhere along the way in my lifetime, I saw a bucket of canes and was intrigued. So when my friend gave me an amazing gadget cane, my desire for my own collection began! I was lucky enough to find a few at the Alameda Point Antique Fair, but others I bought off of eBay.

bucket full of antique canes in an entryway with blue chair in background

I have a variety of canes, but my all-time favorites are gadget canes!

What is a Gadget Cane?

Gadget Canes, also sometimes know as Trick Canes, are utilitarian with an {often hidden} duel purpose. Who doesn’t love a secret cane? They are so 007….

For example, it could be a walking stick that doubles as a measuring tape, seat, compass, or umbrella. There are others that are more along the lines of smuggling, and double as flasks, snuff boxes, or swords!

Here are the four basic categories of gadget canes with examples of each:

  1. City Canes – Held personal items such as cigarettes, snuff boxes, watches, pipes, etc.
  2. Outdoor Canes – Doubled as an outdoor activity like fishing, drinking, and games
  3. Professional Canes – Helped professionals with their duties such as measuring horses or carrying syringes and other surgical instruments
  4. Weapons Canes – Just as the name says, these doubled as weapons including swords and guns

I own canes falling into all four categories and am sharing details of each below!

Caveat: I am not an antique expert. I like what I like and value each cane based on how much I like it. I do know that complete canes are valued much higher than damaged or incomplete ones {incomplete meaning that they are missing parts}.

My City Canes

Snuff Box

I think the handle on this cane is absolutely beautiful and it’s overall in great condition! This cane is a secret snuff box. Snuff was a powdered form of tobacco that could be snorted or inhaled through the nose, popular in the 1700s and 1800s.

closeup of snuff box gadget cane with white horn handle
snuff box gadget cane with white handle

The back of the handle has a small flap that folds down to reveal a hidden compartment where owners would store snuff.

side by side photos of snuff box gadget cane showing how box opens

Pipe

Along the lines of the snuff box, this cane doubles as a pipe! The handle isn’t particularly interesting, but the wooden shaft is quite beautiful.

closeup of brown wooden tobacco pipe gadget cane
tobacco pipe gadget cane on pallet table

The make the pipe, you simply unscrew the top handle and a pipe stem comes out of the cane shaft. The handle doubles as the pipe bowl and screws onto the stem of the pipe.

Side by side photos showing how to assemble gadget cane tobacco pipe

Opera Glasses

My husband surprised me with this cane for my birthday a few years ago. The glasses are in great condition considering their age!

closeup of opera glasses gadget cane aged brass
Black antique cane with aged brass opera glasses on pallet table

My Outdoor Canes

Seat Cane

This was actually my very first gadget cane that a friend gave to me. It’s a folding seat meant for outdoor activities, such as hunting.

Closeup of folding seat gadget cane handle wrapped leather
closeup of hook shaped folding seat gadget cane on pallet table

The handle splits open into two halves, which is the seat. There’s a silver disc attached to the handle that comes off and attaches at the base of the cane. This disc acts as a stopper so that when you sit, the cane doesn’t entirely sink into the grass.

side by side closeup showing how a folding chair gadget cane works

My Professional Canes

Measuring Tape

I got this for my birthday just last year. Although it’s missing one finger, this cane is incredibly detailed and not only is a measuring tape, but also a compass.

closeup of measuring tape gadget cane showing wooden hand handle holding metal tape measure
rustic wooden antique gadget cane measuring tape and compass

The inside of the hand holds the compass.

wooden hand cane handle that holds an antique compass

Underneath the thumb of the hand is a measuring tape!

side by side photos showing wooden hand walking stick handle holding vintage measuring tape

Flask

I would have though this would be categorized as a City Cane, but apparently, these were used by physicians and so considered Professional Canes. Lol!

closeup of antique flask gadget cane with metal ball handle

The top unscrews and has a cork at the base which acts as a stopper for the flask. There’s a spring inside the shaft of the cane that cushions that flask when it’s tucked away inside.

closeup showing antique wooden gadget cane with flask in the handle

This horse cane is also a flask the functions exactly the same as the one above. Unfortunately, the glass part of the flask is missing, which greatly devalues the cane.

antique wooden gadget cane with brass horse head handle that is a flask

Pen & Ink

This one just arrived and so isn’t photographed in the grouping! This type of cane would have been used by professional writers so that they’d always have their pen at the ready.

closeup of antique gadget cane with round metal top that is a fountain pen

The handle unscrews to reveal a title bottle that is stowed away in the cane shaft.

closeup of antique gadget cane with top unscrewed and little glass bottle to hold ink

The middle of the cane also unscrews and inside the center section is a fountain pen with a metal nib that you dip into the ink for writing.

antique gadget cane that unscrews to reveal a glass bottle for ink and a fountain pen

My Weapons Canes

Cap Gun

At first glance this cane is so unassuming….but don’t be alarmed if you hear a “BANG”!

closeup of antique wooden cane with curved handle with silver fleur de lis accents
wooden antique cap gun gadget cane laying on wooden pallet

I really don’t know what the purpose of this cane was, but the end functions as a cap gun. A paper cap can be placed into the opening and the tip of the can pushes up, squeezing the cap.

closeup of end of cap gun gadget cane showing the mechanism

Now I’ll never own a sword cane for a variety of reasons, one of which is that they are illegal to sell and buy in California! If this cane is one that peaks your interest, check with your local laws.

Still on my list is a horse measuring cane and an umbrella cane. I normally don’t mind a ton of wear and tear, but for some reason, I really want an umbrella that is intact, and those are hard to find {not to mention expensive}.

Antique cane collection in metal bucket in entryway with chair in background

Happy Collecting!!

Here are some of my favorite Gadget Canes that I found on eBay…

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8 Comments

  1. Raymond J. Ellis says:

    Very Interesting and may prompt me to start such a collection

  2. I’ve noticed your can collection in some photos in your previous posts. This is fascinating to know that canes had so many uses and ‘tricks’ ! Next time I come across a vintage or antique cane, I will look at it more carefully to see what if it has any special talents !

  3. Cindy M DeMay says:

    Hi Kim,
    You always give great information on wonderful things that I was never aware existed. So glad I found your blog. I also love canes, but utility ones that are a unique shape or carving. But the professional ones and the gadget ones are such a wonderful find. Thank you for this. ;) Cindy

  4. Linda Fernandes says:

    Fascinating information regarding your cane collection! Who knew!?! This was really interesting. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Kim,
    What a fund post. I have a cane that has a flask if you unscrew the top. Haha. It’s actually my oldest son’s and my grandmother gave it to him. What a great collection you’ve acquired.
    xo,
    Karen

  6. Really enjoyed your most interesting post!

  7. Teddee Grace says:

    Really interesting! I guess I’d never read about anything but a sword cane. I think the pen and ink cane sounds very practical.

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