Guilloché – Engine turned canes

Engine turning, referred to in French as Guilloché, is traditionally created with a machine called a rose engine or decoration lathe, which cuts grooves in geometric patterns. It was used to decorate the cases of pocket watches and other small items, including cane handles, as well as used to engrave printing plates for stock and bond certificates. Because the pattern is engraved, the reflection of light is enhanced, and its brilliance can be seen as the piece is moved from side to side. The best-known artist, but not the first using this technique, was Fabergé in Russia, who, when showing pieces in Paris in 1900, brought a new interest to this technique. Engine turning is a delicate technique and requires sophisticated equipment and high skill. It was developed in the 18th century and died out around World War I.

Pale blue Guilloché enameled Viennese dress cane ca. 1890 with hand painted bouquets of roses and ribbons.
Engine turned and iridescent white enameled collar a two twist rope ring on each end ca. 1900. Image courtesy of Kimball M. Sterling Inc., #6, Russian Hard Stone and Enamel Dress Cane, October 18, 2014.


Canes through the Ages cane auction catalogs, Nov., 1998-April, 2004.

For antique cane and walking stick enthusiasts