Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Grandfather's Cufflinks

When my grandfather died, there were lots of odds and ends that no one knew what to do with, and no one seemed to want, and yet everyone was reluctant to just get rid of stuff. Because I was taking some of the bigger items, a box or two of “junk” was thrown into my U-Haul, passing the responsibility on to me.

There were a couple of treasures, including two pairs of cufflinks:

I came across them again yesterday as I was cleaning out my jewelry box. I had forgotten about it over the years, but the top pair has a patent date—July 8th 1879. In spite of the fact that he wasn’t born until 1895, I just always assumed my grandfather purchased them, I figured the cuff links had been something that was manufactured for years. However, I now think it’s more likely these cufflinks belonged to my great-grandfather, who would have been 23 in 1879.

I decided to use Google Patent search to see what I could find and, sure enough, found it-- IMPROVEMENT IN COLLAR AND CUFF FASTENERS, a patent held by Julius Wehl. Further Googling of Wehl turned up his involvement in the bankruptcy of a NY bank where he was managing clerk and nothing else about him. I found one old query about cufflinks that sounded similar, but it was essentially unanswered, so led nowhere. I decided, with the cufflinks being rare, I didn’t think they would have been available for my grandfather to purchase in the 1900s.

Now, what about the other pair? Just from another cursory Google effort, I’d say they are from the early 1900s. So they probably were my grandfather’s. My great-grandfather died in 1909, when my grandfather was 14. If I can date them more specifically, I may be able to clarify the ownership. They appear to have a maker's mark. Or maybe it's only an artifact from the manufacturing process. I don't think it will be very easy to track down, but here it is: