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Today I will discuss antique cuff link terminology. When purchasing cuff links, the description should include the type of closure that the cuff link employs. I will give a brief description, and photo, of each closure to help you better identify just what to expect prior to purchase. Please feel free to add any comments and, I will include them in this post. Please realize that some of these styles continued on into later years but, you will see some differences (with the exception of the chain link style). My next post will be on vintage to now cuff link closures. So, stay tuned for another post in this category.
Let's begin by looking at common terms you will see when searching for antique cuff links.
1- Fixed Button Back Cuff Links
Fixed button back cuff links are not actually buttons at all. But they do look like a button. This type of cufflink does not have a closure of any kind. It is one solid piece where the back slips through the button holes, thus securing the cuff links.
2. Pivot Button Back Cuff Links.
This type of cuff link is exactly the same as the previous one. They look exactly the same with a back looking similar to a button. There is a difference though. The back has a small hinge type mechanism that allows the back to flip up as shown in photo above. This aids in slipping the cuff link end through the button hole. After inserted, you flip it back down to secure it. Exactly the same as the fixed, except this style has hinge.
3. Fixed Shaft or Solid Shaft Cuff Links.
This term refers to the cufflink as being one solid piece. Each end is permanently attached and, will not move.
4. Clip or Clip Back Cuff Links.
These style of cuff links will have two to four clips on the back. The clips are on a hinged mechanism. Shown on the left are just two of the many styles and, are in the closed position. Shown on the right, the cufflink is in the open position and ready to insert into the button hole. After insertion, close the clips (as on the left) to secure. You will often find these in only one instead of a set. In this case, they are often misidentified and labeled as "lapel" or, "collar clips". This is one of my most favorite antique styles as the cuff link has a strong closure. You never seem lose them off your cuff. If you can find them, and like the look, definitely buy them. Most have the date of manufacture on the back. Mostly found in the late 1800's.
5. Ball Back Cuff Links.
As the name suggest, the ends will be rounded like a ball. They are commonly found on style #3 above and, do not move.
6. Bean Back And Football Back Cuff Links.
Named only for their shape. One supposedly resembles a coffee bean and, one supposedly resembles a football. These type of antique cuff link will always be fixed as in style #3 description above. These cuff links have no moving parts.
7. Chain Link Cuff Links.
As the name suggests, each end is connected by a small chain. These older antique cufflinks generally had a thicker chain. As long as there has been chin, there has been chain link cuff links.
I hope you have picked up a little information for your next antique cuff link shopping adventure. The joy of finding these small pieces of history is exciting. So many different, unique, and interesting designs can be found. You will probably be the only one in town with the same pair of cuff links. That is part of the charm of owning antique cuff links. I haven't even touched on material or, maker's marks. But, you should be able to look at a cuff link (and it's back), and make a decision on weather it is antique or not. Hope this helps someone out. Stop by again...Rob.