Antique cufflinks are miniature windows into the past. Cufflinks often celebrate great historical events and intimate, private milestones. They evince the spirit and fashions of an era and the aspirations of the wearers. And sometimes antique cufflinks pose a mystery.
I purchased the above cufflinks from a Boston estate several years ago. They feature an impish fellow wearing a crown of laurels and holding a scroll marked "DECREE" or "DEGREE." In his right hand he clutches a long pole or staff and his right foot rests on a small ball. Other clues are the "99" on his shirt and the word "QUINDECENNIAL."
My initial thought was that the cufflinks celebrate the 15th anniversary (the quindecennial) of an important event, possibly a graduation or decree issued in 1899. But what is the meaning of the impish fellow, his laurel crown and the accessories? Any suggestions?
When you turn the cufflinks over the mystery deepens. The sterling cufflinks are marked with a crown, an elaborate "T" and a prowling lion. These form the maker's mark of Charles Thomae & Son.
Charles Thomae & Son is a wonderful jewelry and silver manufacturer based in eastern Massachusetts. What is puzzling is that the firm was founded in 1920. So how was a pair of cufflinks created to celebrate an anniversary in 1914 made by a jewelry company that was not founded until 1920? Perhaps only the Shadow knows.
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