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A Brief Look At Cufflinks


Cufflinks! Although they are small they can make quite a considerable impact upon one's appearance. They enable a wearer to make a shirt or suit jacket their own. They are removable and could be paired with different articles of clothing. Cufflinks are a way to add a little personal flair to one's appearance. They are the perfect way to express a mood or a feeling. The finishing touch to any man's outfit. They add a unique and individual style to any shirt or sleeve. Cufflinks may not be the first thing you notice when you look at a well-dressed man. Small, yet practical pieces of jewelry don't always get noticed right away. Cufflinks ultimately reveal themselves as the gentleman wearer is shaking hands with another. These jewelry pieces come in a variety of shapes, styles, materials, and looks. They're not just ornamental though. They serve a functional purpose too. Cufflinks are used to secure the cuffs of a shirt or suit together around one's wrist. Records show that studs were also frequently used through out the course of history to secure ones cuff together. All the cufflinks in the cover photo above were found by Steve Evans.


Surprisingly, cufflinks or linked buttons were not just worn around ones cuffs. They were also worn at the neck as you can see from the photo above. I'm not exactly sure how popular of a trend it was but 18th century paintings show cufflinks being worn near one's neck. These linked buttons appear to be the same size as those that were worn on ones cuffs. Linked buttons are also occasionally seen in painting as being worn along a men's waistline as well.



The history of the cufflink is greatly intertwined with the history of the shirt. It was around the 13th century that men began using ribbons or ties to hold together the cuffs of their shirts. As time went on, fashions changed. During the 16th century it became an extremely popular trend for women to fasten the cuffs of their shirts with ribbons. It wasn't until about 100 years later that the cufflink was born though. Stitched buttonholes were developed on the cuffs of shirts and tailors fastened the cuffs using essentially two ornamental buttons that were attached together by a short link. The first cufflinks appeared in fashion during the 1600's. It been suggested by many historians that these early cufflinks were only worn by the wealthiest of men. They were a symbol of status and a mark of distinction.


During the 18th century there was an increase in the usage of cufflinks. In the 18th Century men's jewelry choices were almost all exclusively functional or at the very least semi-functional. Really the only non-functional jewelry pieces that men wore during that time period were rings or wedding bands. Cufflinks were one of the few acceptable forms of jewelry for a man to wear. Its been suggested by many historians that in the 18th century cufflinks were mostly just worn by wealthy men who wanted to flaunt their status and wealth in a fashionable manner. It's also been suggested that the use of cufflinks was also often reserved for just special occasions too. Archeological evidence suggests that this might not be the case though. Some historians believe that women and children also wore cufflinks or linked sleeve buttons as early as the 18th century. Paintings from the time period are an important indication that not only men wore cufflinks during the 18th century. Women's garments often had shorter sleeves. Women would have worn cufflinks near their upper arm. Certain designs and styles that have been found are also very feminine in nature as well which leads one to reason that women were indeed wearing cufflinks on their garments as well. In addition their are paintings indicating that children used cufflinks as well. It is likely that the size of the cufflink would be relative to the person who was wearing it. Therefore one can also conclude from archeological evidence that children wore them as well.



It's been suggested by several historians that the poorest of folks might not have owned cufflinks during the 18th Century. There is historical evidence to indicate that this also might not be the case. Store records indicate that some pairs of cufflinks were very affordable during the 18th century. The cost would have been related to the metal content and weight. Cufflinks made from pewter, brass, or copper alloys would have naturally cost less. A pair of cufflinks or linked sleeve buttons would have been among the most affordable of personal adornment accessories.


Records show that cufflinks became very popular in the 19th Century due to a variety of different reasons. There was a rise in middle class men dressing conservatively. The lounge suit was born and became a major part of men's fashion. By today's definition a suit is considered a pretty formal garment; however during the 1850's it was actually the exact opposite. A lounge suit was a casual garment. During this time period men began wearing cufflinks with their more casual attire such as lounge or tailored suits. The industrial revolution is also responsible for cufflinks becoming very popular. By this point in time, practically every man in the middle or upper class owned at least a few pairs of cufflinks. They were a popular alternative for buttons. A staple accessory for one’s wardrobe.



Why cufflinks? Maybe because plain buttons are boring? Cufflinks call for more attention than a button would. Even the most plain Jane pair of cufflinks out there speaks more deeply about the personality and character of a man than say a plain old flat button. Who wouldn't want something fashionable to hold the cuffs of their sleeves together? In my opinion, cufflinks are one of the classiest of accessories.



Around the year 1876, a German immigrant named George Krementz came up with a way to mass produce cufflinks. Once cufflinks became mass produced, they were without a doubt affordable. Every man seemed to own at least one pair even the poorest of folks.



A lot of the 19th century cufflinks were generally on the simpler of sides. It's what the times called for. Sometime around the middle of the 19th century, cufflinks evolved into the single-folded or double-folded French attachment versions that we see still in use today. Chains were replaced with simple rods or clips. Towards the end of the century, the designs of most cufflinks became more showy and flamboyant. Gold and silver cufflinks reached their peak. They were commonly covered with intricate and extravagant designs, as well as glorious gemstones. Flamboyant fashions continued into the early part of the 20th century as well.



During the early part of the 20th century cufflinks were considered somewhat of a necessity. They became more popular than ever. During this time period women wore cufflinks with great regularity. Between the years 1900-1920, very few shirts were made with cuff buttons. The early 1900's brought the use of cufflinks with bright enamels. The roaring twenties brought bold, bright colors and geometric designs towards the end of the 20th Century cufflinks sort of fell out of style. When clothing became more nonchalant and relaxed, cufflinks were one of the first things to go. They were replaced by the more practical, plain sewn-on buttons. This day and age cufflinks are generally just used with the most formal of attire.



Cufflinks are essentially like little miniature works of art in a way. It is really very exciting when you find a cufflink while out metal detecting. They are an interesting piece of history. They speak about the person who wore them. Behind each individual cufflink lies a complex narrative of one's personality. They open up your eyes to the past. They make you wonder or at least they make me wonder, who was the original owner? What were they like? Was that particular cufflink once one of their favorite accessories? Did its design have a special meaning? Was it a gift from a precious friend? All these questions are quite often impossible to answer but it still doesn't stop me from wondering. Have a great week! Happy Hunting!


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