Decatur Texas Odd Fellows Cane

Unknown Carver within the last quarter of the 19th century

Hard Lightwood Shaft With Silver Plated Grip

35” Length


Cane with sixteen meticulously  carved fraternal symbols in high relief.  Extremely cryptic legend descends the engraved shaft incised with gothic lettering which eventually reads “Decatur Wise County Texas June Eighteenth”.  The letters themselves are not easily deciphered though once the code is broken there is no debate as to interpretation.  To complicate the read one must start at the top revolving the shaft in a clockwise direction spiraling downward where a letter at a time is revealed until finally spelling out the word “Decatur” . The trickster who envisioned this scheme changes up after the first word is discovered and incises the lettering for the next word “Wise” to be revealed with the same twirling downward motion though this time the read is discovered only by twisting in a counter clockwise motion.  Not content to just now switch back to clockwise the carver spells out “County” by first twisting to the right then the left one letter at a time.  “Texas” is now discovered a letter at a time with the same right to left switch as was “County” .  Next,  “June the eighteenth” is now revealed by returning to the first procedure of reading the lettering with a clockwise spiraling of the shaft.  The lettering exposes itself a single character at a time where you do not see, in most instances, the previous character or the next as they no longer appear in the visual field while viewing in a descending motion.  To further confuse one attempting to solve the puzzle upper and lower case conventions are in a couple of instances flipped in the spelling.   Quite confusing to interpret my reading instructions so you may choose to re-read and hopefully one may have some grasp of the puzzle.

The grip is likely silver plate though not certainly.  I have not observed a base metal though the numerals “4” , “5” , “1” each contained within their own cartouche appear on the handle along with the letter “S” intersected with a diagonal line which too appears but in a shield shaped cartouche.  Possibly the “S” signifies Sterling though it is unusual for numerals to accompany hallmarks on high content silver unless signifying the alloy content. The numbers posted would not refer to silver content.  A 3/8’ tip at base of cane appears to be copper or a high content copper alloy.  A one inch ferrule above the tip appears to be nickel silver.

Condition:  The cane is mostly covered in a clear finish with perhaps 10% loss to finish mostly near the tip and  below the base of knob handle.  An old finish though not much yellowing so one may suspect the possibility that cane’s finish was once cleaned and a later finish was applied.  Being nearly 150 years old should discolor a finish unless possibly wrapped and stored away from sunlight and atmospheric contamination which could be an explanation that the present finish is the first.  Condition otherwise makes this a strong possibility.  Slight bow to shaft of cane beginning a foot below grip.   Otherwise excellent with no observed losses or wear to the relief carvings.  Cane is in an excellent state of preservation showing no mishandling.