Beginning in the Victorian era, a walking stick was a staple of any wealthy man's wardrobe. As far as self-defense goes, a concealed weapon cane offers the perfect element of surprise. From metal canes with a concealed blade to curved wooden walking sticks with a firearm built right in, these walking stick weapon accessory pieces all hid their own unique story.
A Brief History Weapon CanesDuring the 18th and 19th centuries, carrying a sword became less socially acceptable. Of course, this did not dissuade those who preferred to be armed and those who were already trained in swordsmanship. Thus began the fad of hiding one's weapon in plain sight - such as disguising it as part of one's wardrobe or through a wooden cane or walking stick. During this time, a walking cane could be more than a fashion accessory, it could also conceal a deadly weapon. It was also not uncommon for a lady to conceal a weapon in her walking stick or parasol, as it was even less socially acceptable for a woman to be armed.
The Unholy TrinityAn early form of weapon canes that became widely popular during the French Revolution were walking sticks referred to as “Les Diaboliques.” The canes featured inconspicuous-yet-sharp spokes down the sides of the shaft that may be revealed simply by the twist of a handle. Designed before Napoléon’s reign and Haussman’s renovations of Paris, the wide boulevards of the city did not exist yet. This allowed Revolutionists to start riots by swiftly jabbing the sides of horses being ridden by police or military. The canes were outlawed by the French government the first day the design was released. From Les Diaboliques evolved two more weapon canes — “Le Redoutable” and “Le Terrible.” The three designs became known as the “Unholy Trinity” and make for fabulous collector’s items for collectors interested in high quality walking sticks!
The Gun CaneHidden weapon canes were a very prominent form of self-defense in the past, being produced by manufacturers in France and England. However, it was not until John F. Thomas of Remington Arms Company perfected the gun cane that this fad became popular in the United States. He received a patent for his rifle cane in 1858, which contained a fully functional percussion fired a single-shot rifle. The design was an overnight success. A characteristic that made the Remington rifle cane unique from previous designs was that its entire firing mechanism and striker were completely encased and hidden inside the upper shaft of the cane. Read on to learn more about some of the rare weapon canes in the M.S. Rau Collection.
This unique walking stick may assist its owner in more than one way! It has the ability to launch a rocket flare with the flick of a button, improving vision or as a distress signal. And, of course, it may have fatal repercussions if fired at a close distance as a form of self-defense. It may also be used to blind one’s attacker momentarily so that the cane’s owner may escape a dangerous situation. The wooden shaft and the brass knob handle contain the firing mechanism and a percussion cap.
From sword canes to dagger canes, collecting antique walking sticks has now become a way to honor these relics of the past. Browse the weapon cane collection at M.S. Rau for more one-of-a-kind pieces.