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Hand-carved canes are a part of America's culture and art, speaking to our rich national heritage and capacity for self-expression. As vehicles of personal communication and group identity, American folk art canes display images ranging from King Kong to depression-era bathing beauties, from boxer "Gentleman Jim" Corbett to an anonymous shoemaker, and from Civil War soldiers to Dolly Parton. Symbols of fraternal and military organizations also occupy the miniature world on the cane, as do representations of nature, from snakes swallowing frogs to bee-filled gardens. American Folk Art Canes: Personal Sculpture is the first comprehensive, scholarly book focusing on American folk canes and will be a foundation for future research in the field. Reproduced in full color, more than three hundred canes dating from the early nineteenth century to today disclose the complex cultural meanings, obscure individual histories, and light-hearted social commentaries of folk art walking sticks. Detailed, comparative, and historical photographs show the diverse styles, techniques, and themes used by the generations of American carvers who have mastered this expressive and utilitarian art form. Each illustration eloquently demonstrates the carvers' artistry in transforming a simple functional object into a work of art. The introduction and eight original essays by noted scholars examine the methods of dating canes, their sculptural and symbolic qualities, and the aesthetic character and history of Native American, African-American, Civil War, fraternal, and contemporary canes. Details of the canes' imagery, origins, and composition are given in an extensive documentation section. Color plates of relatedfolk art carvings, a selected bibliography, and a thorough index supplement the book.