My wife is a rabologist. There I’ve said it. After years of keeping it behind closed doors the world is now aware of her affliction and hopefully now can appreciate what I have had to live with for the last forty years.

For the uninitiated a rabologist is a collector of walking sticks. Fortunately with counselling and a great deal of family support we have managed to reduce my wife’s collection to one fairly full stick stand in the entrance hall.

It all began in the 17th century, when a heavy stick replaced the sword as a fashionable accessory for the man about town. Although essentially a walking stick it was also used as a weapon. From here the walking stick developed and it had many styles and numerous functions.

Believe it or not the subject is so vast that I have picked just three of my favourites. Firstly there is the Tippling Cane, sometimes referred to as a Tippler. This cane has a section at the top which is hollowed out, allowing room for a glass flask or vial which holds the owners favourite “tipple”.

Secondly the Swagger Stick, a shorter stick, used in the military. Swagger sticks are usually made of polished wood with a metal tip displaying regimental insignia making them very collectable.

Lastly, the Shillelagh, an Irish walking stick and club, stout and knotty with a large knob at the top. The knob is sometimes hollowed out and filled with lead, making it a much more effective weapon and then called a loaded stick.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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