Antique Opera
Cane #1 (Antique Opera)

Episodes: 18
  • Genuine antique wood cane
  • Opera handle, also known as "L" or "Flat"
  • Handle is made from some kind of dark horn
  • Thin ivory collar
  • Purchased by Hugh Laurie in London
  • Destroyed in a set accident (see below) and replaced by replica(s)
First Appearance:
We first meet both Dr House and his cane after the opening titles in the first episode. House is a brilliant but grumpy diagnostician who is in chronic pain. Five years prior to the pilot, he suffered an infarction (blood clot) in his right leg, which eventually led to muscle death and the removal of a large portion of his right quadriceps (front thigh muscle). The resulting pain and weakness has left him dependent on the use of a cane to walk. Barring any miracle cures, this will be the case for the rest of his life.

Despite his grumpiness (which existed to an only slightly lesser extent before the infarction), he hasn't lost his sense of humor. He openly refers to himself as a cripple and uses the cane to his advantage whenever possible. See A Cane's Many Uses for some examples of his creativity in this area.
Last Appearance:
Babies & Bathwater
Vogler is dead (but not literally), and House and what remains of his team have spent a late night celebrating their victory with Wilson. House stays after everyone has gone to go over some details of a case, and loyal Cane #1 remains at his side, leaned against his desk.

No explanation is ever given for its departure after this episode, but I like to think that House, having driven Vogler from the hospital, got a new cane as a symbolic gesture of starting anew.
Variations You can't prevent every accident that might occur, and items are stolen, lost or damaged easily on a busy film or television set. Therefore, when an important prop is used, a wise prop department usually likes to keep plenty of them around in case something should... happen... to one of them. Wasting no time, the one-of-a-kind antique cane that Hugh Laurie purchased in London for House to use suffered a violent death just days into filming the very first episode.
A Studio in Vancouver, Canada
It's probably best to let Hugh tell this story himself:

"The shooting of the pilot was uneventful, if you don't count the events. I had brought my own cane (London, in case you didn't know, is the cane/umbrella capital of the world), which made everyone nervous because there were no duplicates in the event that mine got broken. I told them not to worry - there were no duplicates of me, either, and how could I possibly break a cane? Two days later it was matchwood, after I left it under a roll-down studio door."
- Hugh Laurie, in an article he wrote entitled "He's the Phantom of the Operating Suite"

The entire article can be found here (opens in new tab/window).
The Shaft
The most telling difference between the original and the replica(s) is the shaft. On the original, the shaft is bumpy and knotted, like a real piece of wood should be, whereas the Replica is factory cut and almost completely smooth (although it does have a few bumps here and there).

In fact, the original isn't even perfectly straight. Compare for yourselves in these screencaps - the Original is on the left, the Replica on the right.


The Handle
The handle and collar appear to be exactly the same (most of the time), so it's possible that the top portions of the original cane were rescued after the accident and attached to a new shaft. However, in a few shots scattered throughout later episodes, the handle appears to be shaped slightly differently and have a rougher finish, suggesting that at least one more replica was made.   
Fun Stuff As with several other canes seen on House, a genuine Antique Opera from the prop department was auctioned off for charity. Here is a picture of Hugh Laurie posing with it. Notice that the grip of the handle has indentations not seen in some close-ups on the show (and this page). This only further complicates the matter of the multiple replicas made after the original was destroyed.

The certificate of authenticity
is written by Hugh Laurie
and reads as follows:

I hereby certify that this
cane is an authentic replica
of the one I broke like a
klutz - and that this was
used in Season 1 of House
for humorous and dramatic
purposes.    Hugh Laurie