|The 1500 Possibilities of the Elegant Cane
Published in La Vanguardia, "Casa y Ambiente" section, p. 8,
0ctober 27, 1991
Cocomir, great enthusiast and knower of the world of canes, has created more
than 300 different pieces.
Jaime de Mora
admits to having around fifty, and Antonio Gala, quite a few more. Without
carrying one, Beau Brummel would have seemed lame, and even some traditional
riddles ("Which is the animal that when born uses four legs, when older
uses two and when very old uses three?") wouldn't have any reason to
But the most interesting thing is that without the cane and its innumerable
applications, collectionism would also lose one of its most versatile and
creative objects. The most famous collectors knew this. It is rumored that
Tutankamen was one, but it results nearer and surer to refer to the collections
of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Voltaire, Napoleon, Toulouse-Lautrec,
Brummel, and closer in time and space, Salvador Dalí, for whom the cane
was, more than a physical support, an unsubstitutable gestural companion.
And it is, that since the world exists, the wand, the staff, and the shepherd's
crook have served not only as physical but as well as moral support. The wand
of office shows itself to be as ancient as the civilizations of Egypt and
Mesopotamia. Representing authority, it was a completely indispensable
complement to certain uniforms and personages, (who doesn't remember the field
wands of the German marshals or the nervous stick of Montgomery?) The scepter
of bishops, the staff of shepherds, the spiked stick of night watchmen, the
noisy alerter of the chamberlains announcing the entrance of important people,
the object that gets thrown into the air by directors of Scottish bagpipe
bands, the cinematic companion of Fred Astair and Maurice Chevalier...
All in all, since antiquity the walking stick has all sorts of uses and
functions: from the most pragmatic, which is to serve as an aid to the body
when tired, or as a weapon of defense, to the most leisurely and sophisticated
of uses, as an ink well, a billiards cue, or an alarm clock. The jeweler Van
Clef sold to the Maharani of Baroda a most delicate cane-incense holder with
more than 500 carats of encrusted jewels.
There are some that have written there are more than 1,500 uses for the walking
stick, which perhaps is an exaggeration. I speak on the theme with Cocomir, new
name of José Vicente Corominas, which corresponds with his new life as a
sculptor and creator of canes. Before, he was an architect, established in many
countries of the world; today, he is possibly the person who knows most about
walking sticks in Spain. Cocomir works between Sant Antoni de Calonge and Torre
Valentina where he has his gallery and studio, and is certainly the only
sculptor who has created more than 300 models, made by hand. Well, the artist
warns that in the collectionism of period canes, the exceptional is to find one
that is not falsified in its turtle shell, grip, ivory, and even in its bamboo
cane or shaft.
"All walking sticks have a purpose, they should oscillate, almost walk by
themselves and give their momentum to the walker." says Cocomir. The shaft
or cane now has a length of 92 centimeters, and has lengthened a lot since this
object, so practical and beautiful had its golden age at the end of the last
century and the beginning of the present one.
With mimicry, there were those who treasured them focusing on their useless
uses, so abundant. For example, in the cane with a glass grip that accompanied
the suicide of the "Veccio frack", or of the English
"country", the whim of Lords and gentlemen who ordered canes from the
best craftsmen with the grip in the shape of the noble characteristics of the
head of their favorite dogs or sons lost in the Victorian colonies so as to
There were friends of the blade who ordered sword canes with a soul of the best
steel. Concerning firearms, Cocomir informs that the manufacturer Beretta
created special canes for the personal guard of the last Turkish Sultan, while
the Remington company advertised in the press their most select products.
Still in the Hispanic world there abound walking sticks that conceal souls of
rifles and carbines, containing in disguised breeches cartridges and
To the useless opera cane we will add others. For example, the so traditional
crook, or also the "pistol grip", that has the shape of a handle, and
therefore, if it is good, one can grasp it with anatomical ease, and lastly,
the elegant and curved cane, which one thought of as the oldest and yet it
turns out to be the most modern of all.
In the chapter of woods, the best antique canes are made of malacca, a type of
reed of oriental origin. Also in bamboo, much cheaper and accessible, were made
many canes of all types, but nowadays cherry and chestnut woods are those that
result best. Regarding surprises and exotic canes, everything counts: plaits of
interwoven bull intestines, clubs perforated by steel and then shaped as if
wood, and then those that don't hide or disguise the hardness of their iron or
steel to perform a double function.
Leaving aside the hiking stick, very cheap and practical, we shall return to
the most sophisticated canes. It is clear that a good silver handle requires
one to dress in tails, and to beautifully finish the piece with woods that are
more noble in appearance than really practical: mahogany, palisander, and other
excellent tropical woods will not be as pliant as malacca or cherry. They will
be more beautiful, but less useful.
In Spain, apart from the canes and crutches for people with difficulties in
walking, one can acquire collector's canes in specialized shops existing in the
principal cities. Cocomir thinks that we (Spain) must be producing around
600,000 canes of all types a year, even exporting them, but it is an almost
ridiculous figure compared with the Italians, whose most important factory in
Milan produces more than three million pieces a year.
Many canes of good appearance abound in auction houses and antiquarians, many
times redone with grips and shafts that don't correspond. But they are nice;
they aren't expensive and are coming into fashion.
To each one its style and price, which is according to quality, materials,
rarity, and creativity, which goes up if to all this we add singularity. But
one would say that here and now they aren't expensive. Collector's canes (here
beware of the rehashed ones that don't deserve this qualification) can be found
in antique shops, curio shops and auction houses. And there are good shops that
sell canes of a more or less eternal design, and quite "English", who
continue being very important consumers, (of the cane), good manufacturers, and
on occasion, very creative.
For creativity, sculpture, forms that caress, and guaranteed functionality of
the contraption, - the canes of Cocomir, found in some shops apart from his. In
a style really distinct, classical and beautiful, the sculptress Pallejá
creates beautiful heads of dogs that serve as the grip of exceptional
"superbritannical sticks" once cast into noble metals.
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