Automaton Monkey, System Walking cane. England, circa 1890
The carved and painted wood handle is 9 cm high x 5,5 cm at its widest. It depicts in fine detail a Chimpanzee dressed as a bourgeois, wearing a white hat and white collar, it has two colour glass eyes. When a button at the back of the head is engaged, it stick-out its tongue on a gracious way. It is on top of a hardwood shaft, there is a metal collar and a bimetal ferrule. The mechanics work wonderful, without cracks, it has a few little chips on the white hat, nevertheless the condition is excellent. Similar examples: 11/12 & 11/7 are shown on pages 117 & 118 of C. Dike’s Cane Curiosa.
A monkeys’ head on a human body symbolically represents the vanity of man. And when these stick out the tongue, the message is even stronger.
Moving objects, fascinate children and adults from old times, during the 19th century also found their way into canes, it were a prime source of entertainment, being to catch the attention of a lady or just to entertain children.