|Top of cane showing non-gold metal. This may be silver. If so,
there may have been layers of copper and nickel between the
silver and gold, to prevent tarnish bleeding through the gold.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Boston Post Cane - Maynard and Stow
The Boston Post was a popular and influential newspaper some 100+ years ago. In 1909, Edwin Grozier, the publisher, decided to promote the newspaper by donating ebony shaft, gold-capped canes to the Boards of Selectmen of 700 towns in
Maine, New Hampshire
and Rhode Island. Engraved on the top of the gold head of each
cane were the words "Presented by The Boston Post to the OLDEST CITIZEN of
__________ [name of town and state] (To be transmitted)."
The idea was that the towns would award these BOSTON POST CANES to the oldest male citizen for the remainder of his life, to be returned to the town upon his death, to be awarded to the next oldest, and so on.
The canes were made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a
New York City silversmith
and cane maker. Joseph F. Fradley (1843-1914) began a silversmith business in
1866. His business had an excellent reputation. J.F. Fradley items appear for
sale in fine arts and crafts auctions.
The business was managed by his son, George F. Fradley, at the time the canes were
made. Although many of the newspaper articles about recipients of Boston Post
Canes describe the cane heads as 14 karat gold, some of the internet photos
show wear to reveal non-gold metal underneath, confirming that the cane heads
were gold-plated rather than all gold. This makes sense. Gold, rather than gold
plated, would have made the canes prohibitively expensive, even back in
Women achieved the right to vote in 1920, but it took ten more years before The Boston Post approved a changing of the rules to allow women to be awardees.
The Boston Post went out of business in 1956, but the Boston Post Cane tradition continues in many towns. As years went by some of the canes were misplaced, stolen, sold, lost or destroyed. Some went missing for years, decades even, only to surface again. In time, most towns decided to keep the original cane in a town office or at the local historical society, and either discontinue the practice entirely or else award a plaque to the oldest resident in lieu of the cane.
[http://web.maynard.ma.us/bostonpostcane/], maintained by the Maynard
Historical Society has become a clearinghouse for all things BPC. The starting
point was a 1985 article written by Maynard historian Ralph Sheridan. After his
death in 1996, David Griffin took up the traces, and still gathers news of
canes lost, found and awarded. Boston