Mysterious item with bulbous end on dark green smoky background

Two images of a walking one, left showing the full length of the cane, right showing detail of the ivory top, which has floral engravings in

Pique headed cane with Malacca shaft


Wood, ivory, silver


Doctors in the 18th century could be easily spotted because they typically carried a cane. Often, these canes could conceal snuff, liquor, or sweet-smelling herbs. In this example, the ivory head can be unscrewed and filled with herbs that could be sniffed through the small holes. Sniffing aromatic herbs was thought to ward off disease, which was believed to spread via miasma (bad air) or bad odours.  

Piqué is a French decorative technique using small gold or silver pins to create a simple inlaid design, usually featuring floral, geometric or circular motifs.

View catalogue entry for pique headed cane

Part of the exhibition Unfamiliar.

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