The Cane  


This example would have been carried by a very well to do gentleman in the mid-19th century, not only used for style when walking, but also for protections from thieves and muggers down dark alleyways and around London. The cane comes apart in 2 pieces as shown and is in wonderful condition considering its age and obvious use.


A rare and quite special example of a 19th Century folk art English gentleman’s walking cane with a hidden surprise. Made from a single piece of ebonised cane, with metal tip. The shaft is quite special and rare as it’s made from African originated natural horn material which has been carved into the head of Dr Syntax.

Who is the world’s first cartoon character, the ultimate ancestor of everyone from Superman to Popeye?

It is generally agreed that the honour goes to Dr Syntax, created by the artist Thomas Rowlandson and the writer William Combe in 1809. The direct inspiration for Syntax was a skeletal priest, the Reverend Ralph Baron, whom Rowlandson had seen deliver a dull sermon in St Breward’s Church in Cornwall. Baron was a thin, old, shrivelled-up walking corpse – so thin and so shrivelled it was as though there was not a drop of blood running in his veins. It was as if his bones were his flesh. He had a jutting chin, and a prominent nose, and with just a tiny amount of caricature from Rowlandson his profile would be a crescent moon.

To this appearance, Rowlandson added the traits of a cleric and schoolmaster called William Gilpin, famous for travelling around the country, and making notes about the picturesque scenes he encountered.  So, Rowlandson created a picturesque tour of his own, showing Syntax suffering all sorts of mishaps along the way: held up by thieves, chased by a bull, falling into a river. Rowlandson produced one or two pictures a month showing such misadventures, which were passed to Combe, who was then in debtors’ prison. Combe provided a poetic commentary, for publication in The Poetical Magazine.

Dimensions in inches: H 32” x W 1.25” x D 1.5”

Age: Mid-19th Century

Origin: English

Condition: Aged

Item Condition

Aged wear and tear across all the surfaces due to obvious use over the years. Areas of worn surface include loss of detail on the hand carved shaft section, a light split to the metal tip. This item is close to 150 years old so please expect natural and small imperfections as shown. With a lovely natural deep patina across all surfaces.  Natural aged wooden cracks across the surfaces, Firm in form and in one piece.

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For multiple years we have sold antique items globally, please expect our items to show relevant age and natural wear, Items only restored due to breaks and major loss, and we always stipulate this in our condition report.


Please get in touch in advance of a purchase if you based outside of the UK to clarify P&P on this item as this varies dependent upon your global location. Global shipping is possible so please view all shipping details as explained. With items of this fragile and rare nature we always recommend recorded/tracked postage with adequate insurance cover. This may cost a bit more, but at least you are covered from accidents that may take place whilst in transit.


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We aim to ship your purchased item in 2 to 3 working days. The item is packed well and shipped via Parcelforce or Royal mail. Additional to this we used a few carefully selected couriers in the UK to deliver our most fragile or larger item. The courier option is applied at the buyer’s cost, so please get in touch with us directly for further information.

Cancellation / Refunds

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What Our Customers Say

It was such a delight working with The House of Antiques. They are now my go to sources for a variety of unique items. They were attentive when a delivery to the US was held hostage in Customs. Harry was there every step of the way even when on vacation. Everything arrived safe and sound.

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Architect/Design Studio (USA)

© The House Of Antiques 2016 - 2022
Company No: 1099539 | VAT No: 406788763

© The House Of Antiques 2016 - 2022
Company No: 1099539 | VAT No: 406788763

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