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SS Republic Artifact

Counted among the 14,000 artifacts recovered from the wreck of the SS Republic were some 3,000 miscellaneous items consisting of an extraordinary diversity of goods, from four-holed white porcelain buttons, bolts of cloth, dominoes, games pieces, harmonicas, horse spurs, and clock parts. Featured in this assortment are well over a dozen ornate walking cane handles, both carved and plated examples, made from a variety of materials including what appear to be pewter, brass, wood, and ivory. This unique piece had been embellished with decorative metal plating, some of which had deteriorated in the seawater, exposing the wood underneath. The details of the original pressed pattern are still quite visible.

Upon discovery, the remains of the wooden walking sticks were not apparent on the site, suggesting the wood had eroded over the years or perhaps the handles alone had been shipped separately, intended for further manufacture upon arrival at their destination. By the 19th century, shops specializing in walking sticks began to flourish as canes had become an essential part of the acceptable attire of the elegantly dressed gentleman, who would change his cane as often as he changed his clothes. By this time, the Victorian influence had spread to the United States, finding the fashionable American gentleman in possession of several canes for different occasions and social events.

Plated Cane Handle

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