The Staff shown is possibly a carved ivory figure, its style suggests a date from the mid 17th century. The staff is likely to be Netherlandsih and seems to be related stylistically to cutlery handles of that date. It is quite possible that the merchant in the poirtrait was a master culter or even a skilled ivory carver who decided to be depicted with a staff showing one of his fine carved handles. The staff head seems to depict a woman surrounded by foliage, it may well be allegorical. With thanks to Dr Majorie Trusted FSA, senior curator of sculpture the Victoria and Albert Museum.