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Count d'Orsay French Dandy 1801-1852
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CANES OR WALKING STICKS?

In the UK, if you refer to a cane, this definition encompasses all slim, elegant, sticks usually with expensive knob tops, but on the other side of the Atlantic, a cane is an orthopaedic aid.

This is strange because canes were so called because originally as far back as the 15th century they were made of Malacca from the East. "The Straits of Malacca", and these canes were carried by European gentleman who would have settled in the U.S.A, e.g. The Pilgrim Fathers 1620 and the Spanish in South America from 1519.

It is possible that over 200 different types of cane have been used for walking stick shafts.

A stout Malacca is quite rigid, as is Pearl Cane, Bamboo, Manilla, and Whampoa, other types of cane are strong but flexible, and obviously not suitable as weight bearers. So what was their use?

Whangee, the "Charlie Chaplin" cane was a "Badine". Badine is an old slang French word for a long thin object, such as a French loaf, and from this word comes badinage meaning playful.

So here's my theory.

Since Shakespeare's days it would probably be necessary to tell the audience when the joke or scene was over, and one could clap and/or laugh; the Elizabethan Clapper board?

In Burlesque, Vaudeville and Music Hall the performers often carried Badine canes. These would be flexed, often accompanied by a Swannee whistle type sound signifying the denouement of a scene.

Check the silent films. A bowler or boater hat plus a Whangee cane equals Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chaplin.

But the Silver top cane for dancers is a different ball game. This would be carried by dancers who were required to sing and dance, and without the benefit of microphone, or the facility of miming, they would soon get breathless and tired, so, Ladies and Gentlemen, they would go behind the chorus line, lean with both hands on their silver top cane, à la Fred Astaire, the people in front of them would perform, and then the original dancers would be centre stage again in the "tripod" position prepared to do their "Schtick"... and schtick is the slang showbiz word for a performance or act. Need I say more.

Thank you, you've been a lovely audience.

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