|Antique Canes and Walking Sticks|
Mother of Pearl (Abalone)
Mother of pearl was a popular material used to aesthetically enhance the beauty of canes and walking sticks. It is found in a variety of artistic approaches and cultures throughout history, taking its shape according to the technologies available to the craftsman of the day.
Mother of pearl refers to the iridescent substance forming the lining of the one-piece shells of certain fresh and salt water mollusks including mussels, oysters, and snails. When young, the mollusk creates the walls of its “house” by means of layer upon layer of secretions. These secretions form the beautiful, rainbow-colored shell we call mother of pearl. The type of animal and environment in which it lives influences the color and form of the shell. The names mother of pearl and abalone are often used interchangeably, when in actuality abalone is a variety of gastropod mollusk (also called ear shells or sea ears) that inhabits the shell which is lined with mother of pearl.
There are many types of mother of pearl; however, cane handles were fashioned only from those shells with a thickness permitting them to be worked. Smaller pieces were used as inlays in handles and shafts, but these pieces were chosen for the way they reflected the colors of the rainbow.
Types of mother of pearl:
of pearl florets in ivory handle
of pearl roundel in horn handle
of pearl opera/tau handle with gold plated cap
inlay (East Indian)
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