Artifact Corner: Victorian Cufflinks

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a pair of gold engraved cufflinks. These cuff links have the initials FBH engraved on them for Francis Bloodgood Hall. Francis or Frank was married to Fannie Delord Webb Hall, the granddaughter of Henry and Betsey Delord. These cuff links are from the late Victorian period, and are known as a double panel cufflink. The double panel cufflink is the most common type, consisting of a short post or (more often) a chain connecting two disc-shaped parts, both decorated. Let’s learn a bit more about the history of cufflinks.

Buttonholes for fastening or closing clothing with buttons appeared first in Germany in the 13th century. However it is believed that ancient Persians used it first. They soon became widespread with the rise of snug- fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe. Around the 13th century, shirt cuffs were held together by ribbons, buttons, ties and strings. After the Middle Ages, the visible areas of the shirt (neck, chest, and wrists) became sites of decorative elements such as frills, ruffs, and embroidery. Frills that hung down over the wrist were worn at court and other formal settings until the end of the 18th century, whilst in the everyday shirts of the time, the sleeves ended with a simple ribbon or were secured with a button or a connected pair of buttons.

Cufflinks were properly introduced in the 17th century and King Charles II recognized for his style, popularized cufflinks by regularly wearing them in public, helping to influence the people’s opinion on these statement accessories. The 18th century saw an increase in the usage of cufflinks. Worn by royalty and aristocracy which helped to increase the popularity of cufflinks. They were also used to commemorate royal occasions and special events, much like they do today. Gentlemen of this time would be gifted cufflinks, creating collections of cufflinks. In the 19th century men wore a highly conventional wardrobe: a dark suit by day, a dinner jacket, or tailcoat in the evening. Heavily starched white shirts were worn beneath their coats. This was practical but when clean and starched, collars and cuffs underscored the formal character of the clothing. However, they could be too stiff to secure the cuffs with a simple button. As a consequence, from the mid 19th century onward men in the middle and upper classes wore cufflinks. The industrial revolution meant that these could be mass-produced, making them available in every price category. In the early 20th Century, men’s fashions remained fairly formal, and cufflinks remained very popular. The decline of cufflinks came with the less formal attire of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Our cufflinks are in quite good condition. The engraving is still crisp, and they are absolutely still functional pieces. We are so lucky to have these beautiful cufflinks in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by.

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
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