Friday, January 31, 2014

Krementz Doubles

Krementz Egyptian Princess cufflink, circa 1900.

In 1866 George Krementz founded the venerable jewelry firm Krementz & Company.  Over the next 125 years the firm was involved in nearly every aspect of jewelry manufacture - from costume to fine jewelry, colored gemstones to colorful enamels, cufflinks to tiaras.  The jewels created by Krementz & Company were retailed by carriage trade jewelers of the day like Tiffany & Company, as well as small town, mom-and-pop jewelry shops.

Krementz Roaring Lion cufflink, circa 1900.

Among the more captivating of the firm's creations are the "Krementz doubles". Victorian cufflinks often consisted of beautifully decorated oval fronts attached to smaller oval backs with a curved bridge. The oval backs somewhat resembled small beans, so these cufflinks came to be known as "bean backs". Unfortunately, the bean-shaped backs were often left unadorned or merely engraved with the wearer's initials. This left the backs looking somewhat plain and unfinished.

Around 1900 to remedy this situation Krementz & Co. introduced a small collection of figural cufflinks with decorated backs. The backs replicated on a smaller scale the design of the fronts or were decorated with a similar theme. Known as "Krementz doubles" these cufflinks reflected the firm's passion for innovative and imaginatively designed jewels. An example of a decorated bean back is pictured below.

Reverse of Roaring Lion cufflink.

Krementz doubles were created for only a brief period around 1900. The cufflinks are beautifully designed, richly detailed, and impeccably crafted. They are somewhat rare and highly desirable. This note illustrates some of the Krementz doubles I have had the pleasure of working with. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Krementz Native American cufflink, circa 1900.

Krementz doubles are figural cufflinks. That is, they featured wonderful reliefs of roaring lions, mermaids, writhing serpents and other subjects drawn from fantasy and nature. I have not yet come across a Krementz double embellished with an abstract or merely decorative pattern. This cufflink of a Native American in song is a nice example illustrating richness and artistry of the designs.

Krementz leonine double cufflink, circa 1900.

Among Victorian and early 20th century cufflink makers roaring, menacing lions were a favorite subject . Krementz & Co. was no exception. In this note I have illustrated two Krementz doubles with dramatic images of roaring lions - the 3/4 profile lurking in the grass pictured above and the fierce full-faced version illustrated earlier in this post. At the end of this note is a third leonine cufflink, this one created by another eminent cufflink maker of the early 1900s, Link & Angell.

Mermaid and Swan cufflink, circa 1900.

In the years around 1900, the free flowing, otherworldly designs of Art Nouveau flourished and Krementz & Co. was one of the first American jewelry makers to embrace the new style. It is not surprising that Krementz doubles often reflected the prevailing enthusiasm for Art Nouveau design as seen in the wonderful Mermaid and Swan cufflink illustrated above. The Egyptian Princess cufflink illustrated at the top of this post offers another striking example. In other doubles the Art Nouveau influence is more subtle, often seen in the flowing hair of the subjects or in the foliage and wind blown grasses in the background. It is not mere coincidence that the short-lived reigns of the Art Nouveau style and Krementz doubles were largely coincident.

 Krementz serpent cufflinks, circa 1900.

This final example of a Krementz double features entwined rattlesnakes. Among the Victorians entwined or coiled snakes were symbols of good fortune and long life. I suspect this interpretation may not apply when the snakes are venomous rattlers. The influence of Art Nouveau is seen in the scaly bodies of the snakes as they twist to form the outer edge cufflink, as well as in the sinuous vines that twists around the bodies of the snakes. As with all Krementz doubles the scene is beautifully and richly rendered.

Link & Angell double cufflink, circa 1900.

Krementz & Co. was not the only maker of figural cufflinks with decorated bean backs. Pictured above is a leonine example created by Link & Angell, another fine jewelry maker. In fact, I am not certain that Krementz was the first cufflink maker to employee decorated bean backs: the origin and first use is yet to be discovered. But, what is clear is that Krementz & Co.with its passion for innovation and beautiful design was the leading maker and populariser of these captivating cufflinks during the early 1900s.

Back of Mermaid and Swan cufflinks.

Further details and images of the above cufflinks can be found by clicking the photographs.

Other fine cufflinks can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recent Additions - Cufflinks and Stickpins

Recent additions to the Antique Cufflink Gallery include striking Art Nouveau cuff buttons created by Krementz & Company, Art Deco white gold cufflinks with bright blue sapphires afloat in a sea of churning waves, elegantly engraved English roses, and dramatic golden pinstripes from Taylor & Company.

Krementz Art Nouveau cufflinks. (J9175)

L'Art Nouveau  Art Nouveau jewelers created fantastic jewels inspired by myth, fantasy and the artist's imagination.  These beautifully designed cufflinks with their hint of ancient Egypt, or is it the Mayan civilization, are a wonderful example.  Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.    Cost:  Sold

Art Deco sapphire cufflinks. (J9173)

Art Deco Elegance  A bright blue sapphire floats in the center of a maelstrom of swirling waves.  This mini tempest is surrounded by alternating Art Deco scroll and geometric motifs.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1925.    Cost:  $825

English rose cufflinks. (J9159)

English Roses  Elegant stylized roses blooming among sinuous, twining vines all heightened by the blush of the antique yellow gold.  Crafted in 9ct gold, circa 1920.    Cost:  Sold

Elegant pinstripe cufflinks. (J9171)

Regal Pinstripes  The warmth of antique gold and regally engraved pinstripes.  The elegant shape of the cufflinks is highlighted with finely detailed borders and beaded and denticulate edges.  Created by Taylor & Co. in 14kt gold,  circa 1920.    Cost: $1,075

In the Antique Stickpin Gallery recent additions include a wonderful Art Nouveau stickpin set with a sapphire and pearl.

Sapphire and Pearl  Entwining Art Nouveau curves cradle a luminous pearl and bright blue sapphire.  The flowing curves come together beneath the sapphire to create an open heart.  Crafted in 14kt gold,  circa 1900.    Cost:  $385

These and other fine jewels can be found in
the Antique and Estate Jewelry Galleries

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Elegantly festive cufflinks from the Jazz Age.

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the best of the holidays and is looking forward to a healthy and prosperous New Year.

2014 will be an exciting year here at the Antique Cufflink Gallery. The gallery is moving to a seaside village north of Boston. Although I love the mountains and woods of New Hampshire and Vermont, I am equally (if not more) fond of the sea and the rocky coasts of New England. I am looking forward to the change of scenery. New contact information for the gallery is as follows:

Arthur Anderson
PO Box 1448
Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944

603 674-8678

In addition to the move, the antique and estate cufflink gallery is growing with many new additions from the Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Victorian eras. I will also be adding recent acquisitions to the antique stickpin and brooch galleries. But, just as important, as things settle down here in the new location I will have more time to pursue my first love, researching and writing about the history, artistry and design of antique cufflinks. 2014 is going to be a very good year!

I hope everyone enjoys the best of the New Year!

- Art