Swordsticks (or swordcanes) are just what they sound like – a hidden blade, disguised as a cane. They were popular self-defence weapons in the 1800s, although the concept of a swordstick well precedes the Victorian era, with evidence of them being found in Ancient Egyptian tombs dating back as far as 1334 B.C.
Their rise to popularity in Victorian England, however, was due to swords becoming less socially acceptable to wear in public. Those who wanted to continue carrying a sword had to disguise them to get away with it – many of the aristocracy were included in this and the cane was the perfect accompaniment to the developing fashions of the time.
Unfortunately, as you can imagine, it wasn’t without incident when just about everyone carried a weapon. A Victorian gentleman named Herbert Bowman is a prime example of this – he was traveling through London and emerged from the Tower Pedestrian Subway in Westminster to be accosted by a ‘Vagrant begging for money’. Herbert pulled the sword out of his cane in an effort to scare the man away, but the beggar had something else in mind. They tussled and in the struggle, Herbert lost his weapon to the other man who promptly ‘wounded him grievously in the shoulder’.
The swordstick eventually found its way to The True CRIME Museum (us!), where the inscription ‘EC to HB – 24th March 1864’ can be seen on the handle.
A historic reminder to the perils of carrying a blade.
The swordstick isn’t the only concealed weapon however, an unusual variant of the time was a GUN stick, a small firearm concealed in a cane. Recently, with technology and detection methods improving, weapon carriers have become much more tricksy with their modes of hiding their illicit knives.
This, for instance, is a knife which can be folded to fit into your wallet – perfect for avoiding detection. Be aware though, the sentences for being caught carrying a weapon are severe, and far outweigh the benefits of carrying a knife.