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Johnny Cash's personal hand-carved cane, estimated at $7,000-$10,000 at Nye & Co.

Johnny Cash cane leads interesting walking stick collection at Nye & Co. Jan. 24

BLOOMFIELD, N.J. — The annual deluge of Americana each January means a feast for collectors, offering up items which, in many cases, are coming to market for the first time. Nye & Co.’s Collectors’ Passions brings together a major and minor collection of Americana to present a 396-lot sale Wednesday, January 24. Its catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The sale’s main focus is on items from Marjorie and Robert L. Hirschhorn, who were major collectors of American folk art marquetry, a technique in which objects are adorned with intricate cut wooden elements. Their collection was the focus of a 1998-1999 exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum on Lincoln Square in New York. That exhibition was turned into the book American Folk Marquetry: Masterpieces in Wood by Richard Mühlberger, released in 1998 in association with the exhibition.

Perhaps no better symbol of American folk art marquetry can be found than in the cane of country music legend Johnny Cash (1932-2003). Marked only as Burch 82, the 35in cane features both an owl at its top and a winding snake working its way up the staff towards the bird — a metaphor for Cash’s life. Used by Cash late in life as his health worsened, the masterpiece in marquetry is estimated at $7,000-$10,000.

Dating to 18th-century France, this carved cane is referred to as ‘satirical’ and features governmental and military caricatures, including one long-haired gent at the top with an elephant’s trunk for a nose, forming the cane’s handle. Well worn, the notes say it was purchased from the Woodhaven, Connecticut collection of Marion Harris. It carries an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

American cane-carving legend Mike Cribbins (1837-1917) was born in Ireland but is most associated with his later life in Michigan, where he created an untold number of intricate, hand-carved canes made from diamond willow. This wood takes on a snake-like diamond-back pattern when infected with fungus. Cribbins would rely on this pattern as a legend to carve faces, hands, fish, animals, names, Civil War references and much more. This example measures 34.5in in length and is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.

Another diamond willow cane in the Hirschorn collection is this example with provenance to Deadwood, South Dakota. Marked This cane was made in Deadwood: June 11, 1894, Speceimen (sic) Gold Silver Ore, it features inlaid metal and measures 34in in length. It has an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.