Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Senior Canes

A photograph of two seated men bending over canes and whittling at them.The idea of Senior Canes derived from a rule, dating back to the early years of the College, that only upper classmen should be allowed to carry canes. This was because a cane was an accoutrement of a gentleman and freshmen were too young and immature to have attained such distinction. This led to such traditions as Cane Rush.

The practice of carving senior canes began in 1885, when A. Herbert Armes, then a senior, asked his friends to autograph his walking stick before graduation. In the 1890s, Charles Dudley, Class of 1902, designed the now infamous Indian Head Canes, which became the ubiquitous canes carried by seniors. Over time the carvings on the canes become more and more intricate and included images of the College Seal, the Casque and Gauntlet symbol, Dartmouth Hall and similar icons of the institution.

A close-up photograph of a cane with carvings on it.
Indian head canes went the way of the Indian symbol in the 1970s, but in more recent years it has become a tradition for the graduating members of secret societies to carry canes during Commencement. Following in the footsteps of early cane carvers, the Presidents carve their names in the Class Marshal's staff that they carry during Commencement ceremonies.

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Vertical File: Senior Canes
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Uncat Realia: Senior Canes

A photograph of a cane with significant carvings on it.

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