Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Joy of Antique Cufflinks


The Joy of Antique Cufflinks


Carrington engraved MOP dress set, circa 1925.


I hope everyone has enjoyed the best of the Holidays and
is looking forward to an even better New Year!

In earlier notes I have written about the artistry, craftsmanship and history of antique cufflinks. One other factor contributes to the inescapable joy created by cufflinks from the past - the great variety of designs and styles in which they were created.

The years from 1880 to 1950 were a period of ceaseless and dramatic change in jewelry design and the decorative arts in general. Infuences included the historical revivals and countering Aesthetic Movement of the Victorian era, the flowing, otherworldly Art Nouveau and ethereal, sparkling Edwardian jewels of the early 1900s, and the bold, colorful designs of early Art Deco followed by the starker Art Moderne of the 1930s and 1940s. Each of these design movements was reflected in the cufflinks of the day.


Carrington vest button, circa 1925.

In addition to the plethora of design influences, there were numerous cufflink makers each interpreting and playing off the broader design themes in their own unique and imaginative ways. It is estimated that in the United States alone the number of jewelry makers numbered at least several hundred during the early 1900s. No doubt a significant number of these makers created cufflinks at one time of another. It is little wonder that antique cufflinks offer something to suit almost every taste.

For me the great diversity of cufflinks means that, even after working with antique jewelry for several decades, I still enjoy the thrill of coming across beautiful designs I have never seen before. This past year one of my favorite "discoveries" was the wonderful Carrington dress set illustrated through out this note.


Carrington engraved MOP shirt studs, circa 1925.

During the first half of the 20th century Carrington & Company was known for elegantly designed cufflinks and dress sets. The firm's cufflinks often exhibited a formal, if not conservative, simplicity that highlighted the fineness of the precious materials and the beauty of the craftsmanship.

The Carrington dress set highlighted here features mother-of-pearl centers beautifully engraved with a pattern reminiscent of exploding fireworks. Borders of swirling scrolls crafted in white gold bring to mind a starry night sky. And in the centers luminous pearls are is set in a collets with a finely millegrained edge. To me this dress set is the perfect marriage of elegant formality and Jazz Age pizazz.


Carrington and Jazz Age Pizazz, circa 1925.

The celebratory and joyful exuberance of this dress set captures the spirit of the Holiday season and our hopes for the New Year. Fittingly it was acquired during the Christmas season by a couple celebrating an important anniversary.

The above dress set and other fine antique cufflinks
can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recent Additions


I hope everyone is enjoying the best of the Holiday season and anticipating an even better New Year!

New additions to the Antique Cufflink Gallery and the Estate Jewelry Gallery have slowed as we deal with the annual holiday rush. We have managed to add a pair of striking Art Deco cufflinks by United Jewelers, a Bacchus stickpin from Hans Brassler and a wonderful Victorian swallow brooch.


Jazzy Art Deco cufflinks. (J9100)

Art Deco Pizazz  Jazzy Art Deco cufflinks with bright concentric-circle centers surrounded by a yellow gold band of wave-like scrolls and white gold borders.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1930.


Brassler Bacchus and Amethyst stickpin. (J9098)

Bacchus  A rich purple amethyst is framed by two images of Bacchus, the God of Wine.  Since the ancient Greeks believed amethyst protected the wearer from intoxication, this is the perfect jewel for a fun loving oenophile.  Crafted in 14kt gold circa 1910.


Riker Bros. swallow brooch. (J9097)

Fly Away!  A wonderful brooch of a swallow in flight.  Among the Victorians swallows were a symbol of a traveler returning safely home.  Created by Riker Bros. in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Art Deco - Cufflink Complications


Frank Krementz Art Deco cufflinks, circa 1925.

Art Deco - Cufflink
Complications

Among collectors of fine timepieces, watches with intricate mechanisms and a plethora of features are known as "complications." The term is also aptly applied to a group of richly detailed cufflinks created during the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s.


Frank Krementz cufflinks, circa 1925.

One school of Art Deco design fervently believed that no visible surface should be left unadorned. The more decoration and embellishment, the better. Applying this design dictum to the small area of a cufflink resulted in mesmerizing cuff jewels.

A master of this style was the cufflink maker Frank Krementz. The firm was adept at combining intricate geometric patterns with stylized floral elements to create striking cufflinks with an incredible, almost obsessive, level of detail. The two cufflinks pictured above are beautiful examples.


L. Fritschze labyrinthine cufflinks, circa 1925.

A contemporary, but less prolific, cufflink maker was L. Fritschze and Company. Based in Newark, New Jersey (as were Krementz and Ziething), the firm specialized in cufflinks with dramatic geometric patterns. One's eye (and imagination) is inescapably drawn into the intricate, labyrinth-like designs. The cufflink pictured above is a striking example.

I have to confess a particular fondness for the Fritschze cufflinks. A fondness that only increases with their relative rarity.


Fritschze marquise and diamond cufflinks, circa 1925.

Art Deco "complications" were usually crafted in white gold or a combination of white over yellow gold. Commercially introduced around 1918, white gold is relatively hard compared to platinum and silver and crisply holds detailed, engraved designs. White gold also tarnishes slightly over time, throwing the intricately engraved patterns into high relief.


Ziething octagonal bull's eye cufflinks, circa 1925.

No discussion of intricate Jazz Age cufflinks would be complete without a few sparkling examples from Ziething & Company. The shimmering, abstract designs adorning Ziething cufflinks were created with a technique reminiscent of bright-cut engraving. As a result, the lively, sparkling designs appear to radiate and dance as they catch the light.


Jazzy Ziething cufflinks, circa 1925.

Some of Ziething & Company's finest work are striking two-tone cufflinks. In these the brightness of richly engraved white gold borders contrasts with the warmth of equally intricate yellow gold centers. Pictured above are two beautiful examples.



A final example of the intricate cufflinks of the Art Deco era. Crafted in white gold these cufflinks feature dramatic floral and cruciform centers above a field of concentric circles. The canted-corners are embellished with acanthus leaves (or possibly flaming scrolls) with elongated Greek key designs along the edges in between. One side is set with a small diamond. An awful lot of decoration for a very small piece of real estate!


These and other fine antique cufflinks can be found
in the Antique Cufflink Gallery.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Additions to Antique Cufflink Gallery


Kohn & Company Art Deco cufflinks, circa 1930.

For timely updates when new pairs of cufflinks are added to the Antique Cufflink Gallery, please visit our new Facebook and/or Twitter pages. Photographs and links will be posted as new cufflinks are added.

Similar photographs and links will also be posted for new additions to the Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery.

I hope everyone enjoys a festive and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Art Anderson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recent Additions


Antique Cufflinks

Recent additions to the Antique Cufflink Gallery include beautiful scrolling Art Nouveau cufflinks, a striking engraved mother-of-pearl dress set by Carrington, frosty white gold Art Deco cufflinks and an Art Deco pair with sapphires.


Carrington engraved mother-of-pearl dress set. (J9096)

Carrington Fireworks  A Carrington full dress set with engraved mother-of-pearl centers reminiscent of exploding fireworks surrounded by swirling scroll borders.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.


Link & Angell Art Nouveau swirl cufflinks. (J8600)

Voluptuous Swirls  A tangle of voluptuous scrolls enlivens these striking Art Nouveau cufflinks.  They feature the tight, twisting swirls favored in American Art Nouveau jewelry design.  Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Kohn sapphire cufflinks. (J9093)

Sapphires and Stars  Art Deco cufflinks with dramatic compass rose centers set with small blue sapphires surrounded by angular Greek key borders.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1930.


Frank Krementz intricately engraved Art Deco cufflinks. (J8719)

Art Deco Elegance  Beautiful Art Deco cufflinks with flowing scroll borders and dramatically engraved bull's eye centers.  Created by Frank Krementz Company in 14kt gold, circa 1925.


Link & Angell Art Nouveau wave cufflinks. (J8681)

Art Nouveau Waves  Dramatic scrolls flow along the edges of these cufflinks like frothy, crashing waves.  A nice example of Art Nouveau design.  Created by Link & Angell in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Estate Jewelry

Additions to the Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery include a beautiful Art Nouveau brooch by Krementz, dramatic irises, sinuous grape vines and a Victorian amethyst and diamond stickpin.


Krementz Art Nouveau brooch of serene woman and clover. (J9090)

The Dream  A woman serenely dreaming amid four-leaf clovers.  The clovers are set with sparkling dew drop-like diamonds.  Created by Krementz & Company in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Ostby & Barton grape leaf brooch. (J9077)

Grapes and Pearls  Beautifully detailed grape leaves and a cluster of fresh water pearls cascade across the oval frame of this Victorian brooch.  Created 10kt gold, circa 1890.


Art Nouveau iris brooch. (J9091)

Bouquet of Irises  A bouquet of golden irises flourishes amid an Art Nouveau tangle of curvaceous stems and foliage.  Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Victorian amethyst and diamond stickpin. (J9086)

Amethyst and Diamond  A regal purple amethyst is accented with fresh water pearls and a sparkling diamond..  The gems are set in a flowing Victorian twig-and-vine setting crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1890.


The above cufflinks, stickpins and other fine jewels from the past,
can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery
and the Estate Jewelry Gallery


Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


Carrington purple enamel cufflinks, circa 1925.

For Halloween this year Mother Nature played a trick. An unseasonable snowstorm kept us busy shoveling snow and clearing downed trees this weekend, instead of writing about antique cufflinks. As a result this month's post on the intricate cufflinks of the Art Deco era will have to wait for more clement weather.

Hopefully the above purple guilloche enamel cufflinks by Carrington & Company will be a sufficient treat.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Recent Additions


Antique Cufflinks

Recent additions to the Antique Cufflink Gallery include striking Carrington purple enamels, Fritschze Art Deco diamond cufflinks, a pair of Huger pintstripes and beautifully engraved gold cufflinks from about 1900.


Elegant gold cufflinks. (J7434)

Classical Elegance Elegant cufflinks intricately engraved with repeated waves reminiscent of moire silk. The beautifully engraved centers are surrounded by reeded borders. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Art Deco diamond cufflinks. (J9087)

Art Deco Diamonds Elegant Art Deco cufflinks with intricately engraved centers and dramatic geometric borders. Small diamonds sparkle in box settings with millegrain edges. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1925.


Carrington purple guilloche enamel cufflinks. (J9082)

Carrington Purple Striking purple enamel over an engine-turned pattern of radiating, scalloped circles. The purple centers are surrounded by borders of white enamel and yellow gold. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1925.


William Huger white gold pinstripe cufflinks. (J8467)

White Pinstripes Brightly polished pinstripe centers surrounded by Art Deco borders with stylized floral elements and intricate scrolls. Crafted in 14kt white and yellow gold, circa 1925.


Estate Jewelry

Recent additions to the Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery include several lucky talismans - a four-leaf clover and a winged scarab.


Whiteside and Blank four-leaf clover brooch. (J9088)

Four-leaf Clover A beautiful Art Nouveau brooch of a four-leaf clover set with a small diamond. A wonderful example of flowing, almost surreal Art Nouveau design. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Hayden Wheeler winged scarab jade stickpin. (J9059)

Winged Scarab Soaring wings surround a scarab carved in dark spinach-green Jade. The winged beetle rests atop a stylized lotus blossom. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1925.


The above cufflinks, stickpins and other fine jewels from the past,
can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery
and the Estate Jewelry Gallery


Friday, September 30, 2011

Art of the Stickpin


Art of the Stickpin

The sartorially resplendent gentleman of the early 20th century secured his cuffs with elegant links and accented his tie with a fine stickpin. In past posts, I have enthused about the beauty and artistry of antique cufflinks. Here I will briefly illustrate the beauty and imaginativeness of the contemprorary stickpins.

Many of the fine cufflink makers of a hundred years ago also created stickpins. Among these versatile jewelry makers were Carter, Howe & Company (later Carter, Gough), Whiteside & Blank, Hayden W. Wheeler and Krementz & Company. Below is a brief survey of beautiful and imaginative stickpins these jewelers created. I have kept the commentary to a minimum - the stickpins speak for themselves.



Carter, Howe & Company created a stickpin menagerie teeming with serpents, dragons, griffins and other exotic creatures. This example features entwined serpents with jealous green eyes guarding a regal purple amethyst. A small fresh water pearl is set above the serpents like a distant, full moon. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.



Another example from the Carter, Howe menagerie of exotic and mythical beasts. Here a fierce dragon is either protecting or impaled on a golden sceptre set with a pearl. The dragon watches with a wary dark green eye, a hallmark of the golden chimeras Carter, Howe created. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.



A stylized palmette soars above a luminous pearl framed with flowing geometric scrolls. A dramatic example of the beautiful Egyptian Revival jewels created in the early 1900s. Victorian and later jewelry makers often found inspiration in the jewels and designs of ancient civilizations. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1910.



A striking heliotrope, or bloodstone, set in a distinctive Arts & Crafts stickpin. The early Arts & Crafts movement drew significant inspiration from the craftsmanship and designs of the Middle Ages. The cruciform-shape of the stickpin and bloodstone reflect the Victorian interest in the symbols and spirituality of the earlier period. Created by The Brassler Company in 14kt gold, circa 1910.



Continuing the theme of Gothic or Medieval inspired jewels, this menacing stickpin features a winged serpent warily clutching a small pearl. The charming little fellow is the perfect miniature gargoyle to keep demons and goblins from a lapel or tie. The rich detail of the stickpin is a nice example of the fully modeled, sculpture-like miniature jewels of the period. Beautifully crafted by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.



This stickpin exudes classical elegance with a luminous moonstone surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves. The laurel wreath is exquisitely crafted and finely detailed. The moonstone is complemented by a small white pearl set below. Created by Whiteside & Blank in 14kt gold, circa 1900.



An oak leaf and two acorns grow from a small branch. The oak leaf is beautifully enameled with shimmering shades of green, yellow and pink. The acorns are set with two small pearls. Possibly created by Krementz & Company in 18kt and 14kt gold, circa 1900.

This stickpin illustrates a advantage enjoyed by stickpin makers over cufflink makers. Cufflinks had to be created so that they would easily slip though a button hole. The shape and design of cufflinks - rounded and two dimensional - was constrained by their function.

On the other hand stickpin makers could create designs that were three dimensional with dramatic edges. Stickpins have been described as miniature sculptures set atop shafts of gold. This enamel and gold pin is a wonderful example.


These and other fine stickpins can be found in the
Antique and Estate Jewelry Gallery.


Cufflinks by the same makers can be found in the
Antique Cufflink Gallery.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recent Additions


Recent additions to the Antique Cufflink Gallery and the Estate Jewelry Gallery include a menagerie of lions, dragons and serpents and an alphabet soup of monogrammed cufflinks. A pair of frosty Art Deco cufflinks and a striking bloodstone stickpin complete the new additions.


Antique Cufflinks


Victorian flying dragon cufflinks. (J7480)

Flying Dragons A fierce dragon flies across the front of these late Victorian cufflinks. The dragon is beautifully modeled with reptilian skin, richly detailed wings and grasping talons. Crafted 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Art Deco white gold and diamond cufflinks. (J8995)

Frosty Elegance Art Deco white gold cufflinks with a rich, frosty patina that contrasts beautifully with brightly engraved borders and sparkling diamonds. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1930.


Krementz roaring lion cufflinks. (J9080)

Regal Lions A lion with a regal golden mane rises from the grass and roars fiercely. Beautifully detailed with full mane, whiskers and fierce eyes. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


14kt gold cufflinks with 'R' monogram. (J7447)

"R" An elegant hand-engraved "R" against an energetic background of wavy and straight lines. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1925.


Carter, Gough G monogram cufflinks. (J9032)

"G" Elegant pinstripes, a boldly engraved letter "G" and the rich antique color of the gold all date these cufflinks to the Art Deco period. Created by Carter, Gough in 14kt gold, circa 1930.


14kt gold cufflinks with 'N' monogram. (J8146)

"N" An elegant "N" in a rectangular cartouche accented with lively scrolls. The sedate linear centers contrast beautifully with the brightly engraved scroll borders. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1925.


Estate Jewelry


Antique stickpin of entwined serpents guarding an amethyst. (J9083)

Entwined Serpents Entwined serpents with jealous green eyes (possibly cobras) guard a regal purple amethyst. A small fresh water pearl is set above the serpents like a distant, full moon. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.


Brassler bloodstone stickpin. (J9060)

Heliotrope A striking heliotrope, or bloodstone, set in a distinctive Arts & Crafts stickpin. The stickpin reflects the influence Medieval design had on Victorian and later jewelry makers. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1910.


The above cufflinks, stickpins and other fine jewels from the past,
can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery
and the Estate Jewelry Gallery


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Antique Cufflink Archive


The Antique Cufflink Archive


Carter, Howe moss agate cufflinks, circa 1910.

The Antique Cufflink Archive was begun in the last century as a record of antique cufflinks we have had the pleasure of enjoying and closely examining. I thought the archive could serve three goals:

1. to share the beauty and inventiveness of antique cufflinks (sort of an Art Museum for these miniature masterpieces),

2. to tell the history of the firms and individuals who contributed to the creation of these wonderful jewels, and

3. to serve as a sort of a field guide or reference for cufflinks from the past, especially those created in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.



Link & Angell Art Nouveau cufflinks, circa 1900.

This summer I have given some thought to the latter two goals. From the comments of several readers, I believe the archive is serving well to illustrate the beauty, imagination and diversity of antique cufflinks. The cufflinks are presented somewhat randomly, but as miniature works of Art they do not need context or comparators to be appreciated. I also enjoy the randomness - it mimics the serendipitous way in which antique cufflinks are found in the "wild".


Larter Art Deco cufflinks, circa 1930.

In terms of telling the stories of the cufflink makers and serving as a field guide to antique cufflinks, there is room for improvement. To remedy this I will begin creating on-line galleries for each of the major cufflink makers. In addition to displaying examples of each maker's work, the galleries will share what is known about the maker's history. To aid in the identification of cufflinks, eventually sections on the maker's marks and characteristic design elements will also be added.


Carrington "Golden Scrolls" cufflinks, circa 1900.

For the inaugural gallery I have choosen Carrington & Company. This is partly because Carrington is one of my favorite cufflink makers, but also because their work reflects many of the design themes of the early 20th century.

The Carrington Cufflink Archive is a work in progress, but will give a good sense of the general direction. Any thoughts or suggestions on the format, content, etc of the gallery are appreciated. Enjoy!