Wordley, Allsop & Bliss (WAB) was one of the more prolific makers of fine cufflinks during the early decades of the last century. Founded in 1907, the firm created beautiful cufflinks in a great variety of styles and designs. Their work ranged from late Victorian sleeve links to dramatic, if understated, Art Deco designs during the 1920s.
One of the signature designs of WAB was sweeping garlands surrounding a blossoming flower or sparkling gemstone. Known as the "garland style", these cufflinks reflect the influence of beautiful jewels created by Cartier in Paris and Faberge in St. Petersburg during the years around 1900.
Turning away from the sometimes fussy eclecticism of Victorian jewels and the surreal "naturalism" of Art Nouveau design, Cartier and Faberge turned to late 18th century France and the ill-fated court of Louis XVI for inspiration. The elegant jewels of the period sparkled with a cornucopia of Neoclassical motifs - garlands, swags, bowed ribbons and naturalistic flowers.
WAB's interpretation of Neoclassical design incorporates bowed ribbons - represented as three squares or rectangles in a row with flared ends just below - from which suspend flowing garlands of small flowers. The garlands surround a stylized flower, or is it a radiant star burst? The centers were also often set with diamonds or rich blue cabochon sapphires.
Most of the WAB garland-style cufflinks have double-box-and-cross borders as thrown into dramatic relief in this pair of black-and-white cufflinks from the Art Deco era. A second border design features elongated "S" scrolls in trapezoid-shape cells. This border appears to have been reserved for rectangular cufflinks with canted corners. The gold and cabochon sapphire cufflinks pictured above are a nice example of the latter design.
WAB created beautiful cufflinks in white and yellow 14kt gold from 1907 into the 1930s. During this period the firm underwent several name changes and was eventually absorbed by Krementz & Company during the 1950s. The maker's mark of the firm, "WAB" with the letters conjoined, is found stamped on the cross bars of the cufflinks with a "14K" gold purity mark just below or on the opposite side.
Although WAB was a significant creator of garland style cufflinks, they were not the only one. Other firms like Larter & Sons and Strobell & Crane also embraced the style. The above pair of Strobell & Crane cufflinks features cascading garlands of laurel leaves surrounding stylized flowers and faceted blue sapphires. The sweeping garlands are enclosed in a quatrefoil frame which along with the antique color of the gold gives the cufflinks a wonderful Medieval feel.
Additional details of these and other fine antique cufflinks
can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery.