Ivory cane handle with mother-of-pearl inlay

Mother-of-pearl is the common name for nacre, a material formed by the inner lining of the shells of oysters and similar marine creatures such as abalone.  This iridescent nacre coating is a blend of minerals secreted by oysters and other mollusks and deposited inside their shells, coating and protecting them from parasites and foreign objects.

Mother-of-pearl can be cut and polished, carved, etched and dyed different colors. It has been used for many centuries in the decorative arts, particularly for inlay work as seen in the pictures below.

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A decorative French cane with an impressive ivory handle on a Makassar ebony shaft with replaced horn ferrule. The 7-1/2” tall handle has a slightly fluted, straight turned shape and a diameter of 1-1/4” at the top; it is finely engraved with two pretty swallows flying between hanging ornaments, embellished with small and numerous inset mother-of-pearl roundels. These are of an attractive, iridescent, blue color and also engraved in the same technique to depict stylized flowers. This accomplished cane, with a distinct beauty, is from the second half of the 19th century and in top condition. Overall length 37-1/2”.

 

Mother-of-pearl roundel inlay.

 

Reference:

1. Pictures and description courtesy of Youssef Kadri.

For antique cane and walking stick enthusiasts