LOOKING BACK – AUGUST 2012

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OPTICAL GOES FOR A WALK

In the 18th and 19th centuries, no “fop” or “dandy” would feel complete without an elegantly decorated walking
stick/cane, so it was natural to make it as useful as possible. As a result, gadget walking sticks soon became popular and included such different versions as sword sticks, whisky flask sticks, and shooting sticks. Soon the newly-invented spyglass also became incorporated in the knob of walking canes—providing a handy vision aid.
Amongst the different types of optical walking sticks common during the late Victorian era were the telescope walking
sticks, considered very stylish with the glass actually folding back into the handle, often done with clever and precise mechanisms and mounted in silver. Simpler models had the spyglass fitted through a hole drilled at right angles to the shaft so it also formed as the handle for a better grip (examples shown above) and were very prevalent. Opera-glass sticks, on the other hand, had the glass folding onto the side of the stick and were probably somewhat clumsier in appearance and use.


Courtesy of David A. Fleishman, MD, antiquespectacles.com and
Frank Barraclough, Chairman of Ophthalmic Antiques International Collectors Club.
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