Gooseneck Cane and Trench Art

The A-Z Appraisal & Estate Consultants team provides insight and values for a wide variety of items found in and around the home. The gooseneck cane on the left is an example of a circa 1900 women’s walking cane, while the one on the right is an example of “trench art,” which was built by soldiers in the trenches in

World War I.

Tom Helms, Jeff Pearson and Jonell Sloekers

Greetings! Welcome to our new column, “Ask the Appraisers.” 

We are A-Z Appraisal & Estate Consultants, a team of three certified appraisers and one apprentice, who are members of the International Society of Appraisers. We are trained in the art of inspecting, evaluating, researching and identifying personal property. We evaluate everything inside your home such as rugs, fine art, jewelry, sculptures, furniture, the strange and the peculiar. 

Our extensive backgrounds, experiences and longevity in the Arizona community give us a unique understanding of appraisal, estate concerns and local markets. We have represented major charities, presented informational seminars and written for magazines and other publications. We have also been showcased on national TV shows. We hold to the highest standards of competence, education and knowledge. 

Enough about us… We look forward to serving YOU and answering any appraisal questions you send to the editor in the months ahead. No item or question is off limits, so please don’t hesitate to Ask the Appraisers!  

Q: I have a collection of canes and walking sticks. What can you tell me about them?  (See picture above) 

A: The cane with the gooseneck, 10 karat gold “polo-style” opera handle is a circa 1900 (1890-1910) women’s walking cane. The women’s walking cane was used to facilitate walking, for fashion or for defensive reasons. It came in many shapes and sizes, and it is highly sought by collectors. The fair market value of such an item, depending upon condition, would be $175 to $225.

The dark ebony finished folk art-style cane is from World War I, and is called “trench art.” Trench art was made of recycled war refuse such as driftwood, shell casings, spent bullets or whatever came to hand as the soldiers passed long hours in the trenches. Trench art objects are holders of soldiers’ memories and reminders of the conflict they faced. These pieces reveal where soldiers went and provide an idea of their surroundings.

Something as simple and functional as a matchbox cover can provide a map of a soldier’s movements, while other more decorative examples show a desire to find and create beauty: to camouflage war in art. This carved wooden cane shows great care and craftsmanship. It has two sections called “Ball in Cage” or “Whimsy Ball” style in which the artist carves a ball or other object inside a cage from a piece of solid wood. It has the lettering “ARMY”, “US” and “MTC” (WWI Motor Transport Corps) carved into the handle, along with Mercury’s winged helmet inside a wheel (usually with spokes), the insignia of the Motor Transport Corps. It also has a ring of silver embossed with “American Red Cross 1918” around the upper section of the cane. It is in good shape, with slight wear on the edges, and one small chip. With its aesthetic quality and historical significance, this cane would have a fair market value of around $650.