Meet the Rabologist

31 January 2022
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Words & photo by John Doherty.

Joy Westcome is a resident at the Waterford apartments and is a rabologist! “A what?” you ask!

Joy is a collector of walking sticks! In all, 54 of them from, all over the world. Recently, she gave an interesting talk about her collection of sticks to residents of The Lourdes Valley campus.

Over some 40 years, she and her husband Peter, travelled to many countries and collected her sticks.

Joy was interested in the different woods that were used, the carving and decorations which generally related to the culture of those countries.

Some of the sticks had “secret” compartments, where, for example, an English gentleman would hide a small flask of whisky, his cigars and maybe a sword!

Sticks were used to smuggle silk worms from China and biblical texts from country to country.

Joy also spoke of the walking sticks used by Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and Louis XIV of France.

Most sticks are made from wood, but cane, metals and sometimes bone or horn were used.

Joy’s hobby is wood carving and over the years has made three walking sticks, as well as a large collection of love spoons (carved wooden spoons, presented as a romantic gift), paper knives, mirror frames and clock cases.