THOMAS JEFFERSON CRADDOCK (ALBEMARLE CO., VIRGINIA, B. 1845) CARVED FOLK ART CANE / WALKING STICK, maple, design featuring a corn-form handle, various inscriptions relating to Thomas Jefferson's life, and a bold spread-wing eagle, fitted with a metal ferrule. Fine old, possibly original, surface with rich color. Fourth quarter 19th century. 34 1/4" L. Provenance: From a North Carolina collection. Catalogue Note: Not much is known about the cane carver, Thomas Jefferson Craddock, despite the substantial body of work attributed to him. He appears to have made a career carving souvenir canes related to Thomas Jefferson and UVA in the fourth quarter of the 19th century and perhaps into the 20th century.
Thomas Jefferson Craddock was born in 1845 in Albemarle Co., Virginia. His father, William R. Craddock, listed as a carpenter in the 1850 and 1860 census, must have introduced his son "Jeff" to woodworking at a young age. As a teenager, T. J. Craddock enlisted in 1862-3 as a private in General Thomas Rossner's cavalry and was injured in February of 1863 at Hamilton's Crossing. The extent of injuries at the time are not clear, but they must have been significant as he returned to his parents' home in Albemarle Co. to remain. He married Amanda Drumheller in 1870 and the two raised a family there in Albemarle. Thomas J. Craddock is listed in the 1900 US Census as a "cane maker", an interesting note about his life that indicates something of his stature as a maker of walking sticks. The present example is noteworthy for its overall carving, particularly the large spread-wing eagle highlighting the upper shaft, a rare feature on a Craddock cane.