Phrenology walking stick


An ivory Phrenology head walking stick with  silver barrel ring, England 1850, hardwood shaft and brass ferule, 94cm long. Probably English, second half 19th century. Is hand carved from a natural ivory tooth,  Beautifully carved, then engraved and stamped with 35 numbered areas (symmetrically placed) corresponding to various traits which are tabulated in a ‘legend’ around the threaded mount : ‘secretives, revenge, conscience, hope, wonder, size, eventuality, etc. ‘the lines, numbers, and words have black fill which remains generally readable. In mint condition without any damage on the ivory.

Phrenology had its roots in a belief that all human actions and mental processes have locations in the brain. Far from being quack, ; it became a focus for serious, well-founded and documented studies, beginning in the late 18th century and continuing for nearly 100 years. The widespread interest in phrenology spawned many objects and artifacts, including porcelain and plaster heads, ashtrays, etc., of which cane heads have perhaps the most charm in the widely different expressions and aspects. Among these miniature ivory head there seem to be about a dozen distinct ‘personages,’ some male, some female, some not clear.

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