After having resisted creating a blog, because of fears connected with my time, vanity, and privacy, I have decided to start one, primarily because I am testing my Facebook friends’ sartorial threshold with the number of cufflink pictures I post there. This blog will be principally to post pictures of and discuss pictures of cufflinks, neckties (I have around eighty cufflinks and one hundred and twenty silk ties), and general musings of my life in Kansas, Paris, and the UK. I was inspired particularly by my recent exchanges with Samantha Howard, a collector and dealer based in Toronto who loves what she does and inspires contagious enthusiasm and introspection (http://www.samanthahowardvintage.ca/). What we enjoy wearing does and should reveal things about ourselves and being more conscious of this is a positive trait.
My penchant for beautiful things is, I suspect, tied in with my Catholicism. I don’t claim to be the greatest Catholic, and I am always working on that, but I do accept it as true. I have not found any more rational or aesthetically cogent explanation of the divine. On that note, no comment I make on this blog represents the beliefs and teaching of the Holy Catholic Church of Rome, nor, for that matter, my employer: namely the University of Kansas. I have no intention of biting the hands that nourish my body and soul! Just me, a man from a small rural town in Cumbria in the north of England, in a place where my family has lived for at least three centuries (family lore also confirmed by tombstones and Ancestry.co.uk) and yet ended up living in Paris for three months a year and teaching in the USA.
I am currently in Calgary, Canada, where I am spending the semester on a fellowship. I am enjoying a year’s sabbatical to work on a book that includes chapters on cantankerous, eccentric priests and fairy tales & science fiction. I have loved collecting cufflinks for several years and I absolutely adore the brutal beauty of Scandinavian brutalism, as well as other styles such as art nouveau, in addition to Quebec modernist designers like Gilles “Guy” Vidal and Robert Larin. With my neckties, the majority of which have been acquired in France, I opt for silk and fetching patterns.
I will kick off this blog with one of my favourite pairs of cufflinks. These are a sterling-silver pair by the Swedish silversmith Bengt Hallberg and bear his maker’s mark: BeH. The firm was set in up in 1947 and is still going strong. These links were made in 1969 but are unsold stock, so they were never purchased and were consequently broken in by myself. They feature the crumple-casting technique using a rough-cast mould that is best known as a Finnish method -some of the designers working for the iconic firm Lapponia spring to mind- but this pair brazenly demonstrates that other manufacturers also achieved beautiful effects with it.