Friday, October 31, 2008

The Cufflink Makers - Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss

The decades around 1920 have been nicknamed the Gold and Platinum Age of Cufflinks. In America jewelry makers, many based in Newark, New Jersey, created beautiful cufflinks in a great diversity of styles and in precious metals ranging from silver to platinum to gold. One of the more prolific makers of fine cufflinks during this period was Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss (WAB).

WAB Egyptian Revival cufflinks in 14kt gold, circa 1910.

Founded in 1909, WAB and its several successor firms created elegant cufflinks that drew upon and updated the historical revival styles of the Victorian era. WAB cufflinks were beautifully crafted in 14kt yellow and white gold and often rivaled the creations of the other preeminent cufflink makers of the period (such as Carrington & Company, Carter, Gough & Company and Wm. Huger & Company).

Pictured above is a WAB cufflink in the Egyptian Revival style with stylized lotus blossoms and papyrus fronds in a cruciform arrangement. The beveled edges of the cufflinks are highlighted with an exotic zigzagging meander of black enamel. WAB excelled at balancing an eclectic array of elements in their cufflinks without the design looking overly cluttered.

WAB Scroll and Garland 14kt gold cufflinks, circ a 1920.

The eclectic enthusiasm of WAB is nicely illustrated in these "Scroll and Garland" cufflinks set with striking cabochon-cut Sapphires. Exuberant S-scrolls dominate the cloisoned borders while classically inspired garlands fill the centers. The WAB cufflink designers successfully infused these historical motifs with the fun and pizazz of the 1920s. Sort of 18th century formalism meets Jazz.

WAB Pinstripes and Gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

Of course, not all WAB cufflinks were embellished with intricate designs. The pair pictured above is the epitome of simple elegance. The design reflects the simpler linear and geometric designs of the Art Deco period. The borders are accented with black enamel. This particular pair was given to a graduate of Brown University in 1920.

I believe WAB made cufflinks from about 1910 until sometime in the early 1930s. Like many cufflink makers of this period, production appears to have ceased or at least curtailed during the Great Depression. The firm was eventually absorbed by Krementz & Company during the 1950s.

Wordley, Allsopp and Bliss maker's mark.

The most common maker's mark for WAB and its successor firms is a "W" and a "B" resting on the sloping sides of an "A". The maker's mark is usually stamped along with the purity of the gold on the cross bar or bridge of the cufflink.

More photos of the above cufflinks can be found in the
Antique Cufflink Gallery.