Swagger sticks became very popular with soldiers in the late nineteenth century and were carried off duty right through until the Second World War. The idea was that it kept men’s hands busy so they didn’t put them in their pockets and thus looked unmilitary. The sticks were made of cane with metal heads and ferules and had regimental crests stamped into them. As well as the military, many uniformed civilian organisations also adopted swagger sticks, including the St John’s Ambulance and it is an example of their swagger stick we are looking at today:
The head of the stick is embossed with the badge of the St John’s Ambulance service:
Although white metal examples were produced, this one is made of silver (despite being black with age now) and is hallmarked to Birmingham and dates to I believe 1946.
A metal tip is fitted to the opposite end to protect the cane and prevent it from splitting:
These sticks were not issued to members of the St John’s Ambulance, but were available to purchase for 1/- each:
After the end of the Second World War the popularity of swagger sticks disappeared and they are virtually never seen today, but remain hugely popular for collectors who appreciate the number of different regimental and civilian designs to be found.