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One of the first things that I ever sold on eBay was a vintage radio that had been sitting around the house for a long time. I had picked it up at an auction in Buffalo and although I was not a newbie to buying and selling antique and vintage items, it was the first time that I had sold anything to anyone outside of the old neighborhood. For a few years after that, I went into a frenzy; scouring flea markets, estate sales, yard and garage sales in search of more vintage radios and then rotary phones that I could sell on eBay.
This past month was Father’s Day and I wrote in the NOVA-Antiques Blog a little something about buying Dad a gift that was unique, old or vintage; and best of all recycled. In that article, I gave some great gift ideas including sports memorabilia, antique tools and vintage cufflinks. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of cufflinks as a topic.
In the early 1600’s men (and women) held the two ends of a cuff of a shirt or blouse together by using “strings,” which were really ribbons or ties. Try as they might, our ancestors could not make them look as elegant or pretty as they would have liked. That is until someone thought it a good idea to use colored glass buttons. They would put two together to hold the cuffs in place.
In the early 1700s the idea of the buttons evolved to include a gold link chain. This was of course more fashionable and elegant, but only affordable to a small segment of the population. Things changed however, during the Industrial Revolution as more people were able to afford nicer things. More companies, including the shirt companies of the day, got into making cufflinks if for no other reason, to sell more high-end shirts.
In the late 1900s, cufflink production declined as more companies started mass producing shirts with buttons on the cuffs of their shirts. By this time the cufflinks that were being produced were called dumbbell cufflinks which consisted of two buttons with a post between them. Later, those evolved into the more familiar type to most of us, the cufflink with a stud and hinged closing clasp.