In England in the 1600s, doctors started wearing wigs and carrying canes. The head of the cane was gold, silver or ivory and contained a cavity in which aromatic substances such as rosemary, camphor, or Marseilles vinegar were carried. The inhalation
of these substances was thought to prevent contagion, and they also served the additional purpose of counter-acting offensive odors.
One such cane is a very famous Gold-Headed Cane which during the period of 1689 to 1823 was continuously carried by the most outstanding London practitioners of the times. The widow of the last doctor gave the illustrious cane to the Royal College of
Physicians in London where it remains today.
The Gold-Headed Cane Award was begun when, in 1951, the late Dr. Porter Brown presented a beautiful Gold-Headed Cane to Tarrant County Medical Society and revived the ancient tradition. The idea behind this award came from the book, “The Gold-Headed
Cane” which was brought to Dr. Brown’s attention by our medical historian, Dr. William Crawford.
The Gold-Headed Cane was established to recognize a physician who symbolizes the pursuit of the highest standards of scientific excellence and integrity. The existence of such an honor should serve as inspiration to the younger doctor and encourage him
in his family, social, civic, religious, and professional life to cultivate those essentials of character to secure for him the respect and good will of his colleagues and the profession at large and in addition the high esteem and confidence of the public.
Each year the Gold-Headed Cane Award shows the warm love, and personal regard, esteem and respect of the physicians for physicians in the Tarrant County Medical Society. To be eligible the physician must have been a member of the Society for 15 years.
There are no nominations and no political campaigning for this honor. The recipient is chosen by secret ballot of the membership. The ballots are counted by previous recipients.
The Gold-Headed Cane recipient is described as the Doctor’s Doctor. A recognition by one’s peers truly is the most satisfying accolade a Society physician can ever receive.
Recipients of the Gold Headed Cane
2021 Award Winner: Susan Rudd Bailey, MD