A Captivating and Unusual Memento Mori Walking Cane. England, 1863
The elephant ivory handle is 4 cm high x 11 cm to the side x 3 cm thick, it is fashioned in a conventional Opera shape and entirely engraved with two Varanus burrowing in a pile of rotten human skulls and bones. A couple of dorsal spines with vertebrae and ribs add to it a scary and macabre touch. This great example of an exceedingly rare type was probably meant as a Memento Mori reminder of the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death, the skulls stressing the impermanence of creatures and the pointless vanity of worldly matters, the reptiles representing the Aesculapius viper and a symbol for rebirth and eternal life. It could also have been associated with one of the numerous secret societies or fraternity organizations of its day or a sign for a pronounced search for marked individual taste in the growing industrial society. In any case, this Cane is fascinating, arouses curiosities and draws instantly the viewer into its deep mysteries. The detail is astonishing!
The 18K gold collar is 2,5 cm high, it displays a full set of clear Birmingham hallmarks, it helps an exact dating: 1863 and the engraving L. Redhead to E. Tutt 1890 speaks for a presentation three decades later. The cane boasts a wonderful feel of age with a rich, warm-toned patina to the ivory and a superb and uniform amber colour to the shaft, it is a select real, full bark malacca with high ridge ending with an old bronze ferrule. The Overall length is 90 cm.
We deliver this piece with a signed document issued by a certified appraiser, corroborating the ivory is older than 100 years and therefore before 1947.
The skull is the skeletal structure of the head, it has a visual appeal beyond the other bones of the human skeleton and can fascinate even as it repels. Commonly the skull is a symbol of death or some romantic notion of immortality, as the belief that a spiritual part of a person survives death. A skull is generally part of certain genre artistic creations called Memento Mori that may be freely translated as Reminder of Your Mortality. Varying widely from one another, they all share the same purpose, which is to remind people of their own limited lifespan. The skull is also an emblem in Masonry and symbolizes the hierarchic structure and the transience of the material world. Description by Youssef Kadri.