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Diagram showing a swordstick

A swordstick or cane-sword is a cane incorporating a concealed blade. The term is typically used to describe European weapons from around the 18th century, but similar devices have been used throughout history, notably the Japanese shikomizue and the Ancient Roman dolon.



The swordstick was a popular fashion accessory for the wealthy during the 18th and nineteenth centuries. While the weapon's origins are unknown, it is apparent that the cane-sword's popularity peaked when decorative swords were steadily being replaced by canes as a result of the rising popularity of firearms, and the lessening influence of swords and other small arms.

Soon after their introduction, other "gadget canes" became popular, holding the tools of one's trade rather than a blade, compases, and even flasks for keeping alcohol.


Malacca wood was the most commonly used material in making the cane shafts[citation needed], and the standard grip was rounded and metallic.[citation needed] Today, designer and collector canes have sterling silver handles, and are made with wooden shafts made from various woods, including Malacca and bamboo. Ornate designs, such as animal heads, skulls, and various emblems may also be carved into the wooden handles; these may make them harder to wield, but some find them more attractive. Sword canes are most often made with stainless steel, rapier-pointed blades. While various mechanisms exist to lock the blade in place, accidents have been known to happen regularly[citation needed] with the simple push-to-release mechanism. Twist-lock mechanisms work well, as do double-locking mechanisms.

Modern use

Swordsticks made by most retailers today are constructed as novelty items or collector's pieces, and are not the high-quality self-defense mechanisms that were used in the nineteenth century. However, they are steel blades that can be very sharp, even if they are flimsy, and should be handled with care. Today's swordsticks are generally not suitable for use as a supportive cane or medical cane.


Depending on the locale, sword canes may be prohibited as a concealed weapon. Fines and charges for such an offence where it is illegal can be steep.


In the popular TV series the avengers, the main protagonist, John Steed, always carried an umbrella swordstick.


United Kingdom

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988, ISBN 0-11-088019-6 also made it illegal to trade in sword canes in England and Wales. However, antique swordsticks which are 100 years old or older are exempt.

United States

A swordstick may be illegal to carry in many jurisdictions as it is a concealed weapon, and is sometimes considered a disguised weapon. US states with statutes that expressly prohibit the carrying of swordsticks include Arkansas (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-120(b)(3)(B)) and California (Cal Pen Code § 12020(a)(1). Other states may include swordsticks under the general ban on carrying a concealed weapon or a weapon disguised so as to conceal its true nature; an example of such a case can be found in State v. McCoy, 618 N.W.2d 324 (Iowa 2000).

See also

External links


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