Boston Post Gold-Headed Canes

In August 1909, Mr. Edwin A. Grozier, Publisher of the Boston Post, a newspaper, forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 431 towns (no cities included) in New England a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town. The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it.

Picture of the Boston Post Cane headThe canes were all made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York manufacturer, from ebony shipped in seven-foot lengths from the Congo in Africa. They were cut to cane lengths, seasoned for six months, turned on lathes to the right thickness, coated and polished. They had a 14-carat gold head two inches long, decorated by hand, and a ferruled tip. The head was engraved with the inscription, --- Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town) --- "To Be Transmitted". The Board of Selectmen were to be the trustees of the cane and keep it always in the the hands of the oldest citizen. Apparently no Connecticut towns were included, and only two towns in Vermont are known to have canes.

In 1924, Mr. Grozier died, and the Boston Post was taken over by his son, Richard, who failed to continue his father's success and eventually died in a mental hospital. At one time the Boston Post was considered the nation's leading standard-sized newspaper in circulation. Competition from other newspapers, radio and television contributed to the Post's decline and it went out of business in 1957.

The custom of the Boston Post Cane took hold in those towns lucky enough to have canes. As years went by some of the canes were lost, stolen, taken out of town and not returned to the Selectmen or destroyed by accident.

The canes of Milo and Brownville are both being held by the town offices currently. Milo is looking into having a replica cane made for the oldest resident, and to have the original put on display in the Historical Society. The Milo Cane isn't in the best of shape.

Sebec's Cane is held by Sadie Ames, who is nearly 100 years old.

Pictured above and to the right is Brownville's cane, and Milo's is below.

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