It always looks so interesting, the conductor waving his stick. It's even a little magical, as if the baton has magic power. He conjures that all instruments begin to play the moment the baton wishes. With his back turned towards the audience, the music leader waves it as if his life was hanging from it.
In the 19th century, the white wooden stick was created, as it still looks today.. It is made of plain wood, so that the musicians can see it well, against the background of the dark room. Still, it seems quite difficult to keep that baton on all the time.
Before the 19th century, the conductor had a heavy stick, a kind of half-broomstick. He pounded the stick on the ground to indicate the measure. There was even a conductor who died of a foot infection because he was pounding his feet with that heavy stick. Weird! A while later, the conductor just used with the bow of a violin. The strings, the blazers and the percussion, miraculous that with one stick a beautiful harmony can be formed. If that's not magic!
Reestip: An extensive and interesting blog by @Muziek :