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H4124 Walking stick, with unicorn head handle, glass / tea tree wood / metal, Robert Read, Manly, New South Wales, Australia, 1890-1938. Click to enlarge.

Walking stick with unicorn head handle

Made
Walking stick made from Australian Tea Tree wood. The handle has a carved unicorn head with inlaid glass eyes and metal horn. Fish like scales have been carved down the shaft of the stick, with four grotesque faces carved at various points along the shaft. There is a metal guard on the base of the stick.

Summary

Object No.

H4124

Object Statement

Walking stick, with unicorn head handle, glass / tea tree wood / metal, Robert Read, Manly, New South Wales, Australia, 1890-1938

Physical Description

Walking stick made from Australian Tea Tree wood. The handle has a carved unicorn head with inlaid glass eyes and metal horn. Fish like scales have been carved down the shaft of the stick, with four grotesque faces carved at various points along the shaft. There is a metal guard on the base of the stick.

Dimensions

Height

105 mm

Width

40 mm

Production

Notes

Designed and carved by Robert Read of Manly, New South Wales, Australia.

Robert Read migrated from Pettigo, County Donegal, Ireland to Australia aboard the 'Spitfire' in 1863, aged around 12 years old. He travelled with his father George, mother Jane, and 5 of his siblings. He had various vocations, including bootmaking, prospecting, photography, signwriting, watchmaking, barbering and painting, as well as being an alderman of the first Municipal Council of Grenfell, New South Wales, and proprietor of 'Robert Read & Co' general store in Wellington, New South Wales.
After retiring from his general store, Read moved to Manly, New South Wales and took up carving - decorative birds, fishing rods and walking sticks.
On 6th September 1938, Robert Read presented a collection of his carved walking sticks in Australian woods to the Technological Museum, the then name of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Robert Read died in November 1940.

Source:
Barbara Goode Matthews, 'Great Snakes. Realistic Carvings in Wood', Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June, 1939, page 13.

History

Notes

Donated to the Museum by the maker, Robert Read, in September 1938. By 1939, twenty of the walking sticks were displayed in two table cases at the Technological Museum, as the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences was then called. Robert Read's novelty walking sticks and donation to the Museum were covered in the press around Australia.
"Mr T.C. Roughley, Acting Curator of the Technological Museum, said yesterday that the Museum had acquired new exhibits, consisting of a collection of 20 walking sticks carved in an interesting series of designs. Six of the sticks were life-like in their representation and accurate in detail. Others had handles carved to represent horses' hoofs, grotesque heads and goannas. All the sticks were carved from Australian woods collected in the Wellington district of New South Wales. They were the product of a lifetime hobby of Mr Robert Read, of Manly, who had presented them to the Museum."

Source:
'Carved walking sticks at Museum', Sydney Morning Herald, 16 February 1939, p8.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mr Robert Read, 1938

Acquisition Date

6 September 1938

Cite this Object

Harvard

Walking stick with unicorn head handle 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 7 December 2021, <https://ma.as/238462>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/238462 |title=Walking stick with unicorn head handle |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=7 December 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.