I made my first two stick purchases at a local antiques mall back in 1998. I have discovered since then that very few pieces of any real interest can be found at the local level. However, I always make it a point to make the rounds, as I have made some wonderful discoveries!
A fine way to purchase quality sticks is to obtain them via a reputable auction venue, either on location or on-line. Of course attending a cane auction is always preferable as you can then examine the sticks and ask any questions you may have prior to auction.
I have made some wonderful purchases on auction, and wish to credit both Kimball M. Sterling, Inc., www.auctionauction.com and Tradewinds Antiques, Inc., www.tradewindsantiques.com as sources for fine sticks. Both offer live, as well as on-line auctions.
If you are purchasing off of e-Bay or other on-line shopping venues, it is very important to check a seller’s ratings and feedback. If purchasing through a dealer, ask for credentials and testimonials prior to purchase. Do as much as possible to assure the dealer is reputable.
Remember: Ask questions. Gain as much information about the history of your stick as possible. Ask for all available documentation. Carefully examine the stick. Shake it; something may be hidden inside. Decide to purchase only if all your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.