Victorian Japonism

Gold cufflinks with engravings, Birmingham 1894

At the end of the 19th century, the art world looked to Japan. It was only in 1854 that American gunboats had forced the opening of the country, which had been closed for centuries. Woodcuts, prints and drawings were exported all over the world on board the merchant ships in the following years and exerted a lasting influence on artists van Gogh, Manet, Degas and later Paul Klee. Referred to as "Japonism", Japanese influences can be found in the designs of Art Nouveau as well as later in the works of Art Deco with its preference for all things exotic. The present cufflinks from Queen Victoria's reign show her engagement with Far Eastern motifs. The buttons are made of 15-karat gold and each features two similarly designed fronts with fine engravings. The hand-rendered designs feature foliage and sweeps sometimes found in Japanese woodblock prints. According to the stamp, the knobs were made in 1894 in the workshop of Henry Williamson in Birmingham. Especially in England with its world-spanning colonial empire, Far Eastern ornaments were in fashion at that time and served the taste of the time. The buttons are undamaged, ready to wear and still today a beautiful eye-catcher on the shirt!

As early as the 16th century, the forerunners of today's shirts were created, whose sleeves could be tied together with a silk ribbon. Although silk cuff bands remained popular until the 19th century, from the time of Louis XIV sleeve endings were increasingly closed with boutons de manchette, or cufflinks, typically pairs of colored glass buttons connected by a short chain. During the 18th century, these glass buttons were replaced by elaborately painted pieces or pairs set with precious stones. At this time, cufflinks were widespread as distinct luxury items, mainly in aristocratic circles. In the first half of the 20th century, cufflinks also peaked in popularity among the middle classes, and in the last 10 years, cufflinks have experienced a noticeable upswing, as many fashion designers are once again paying more attention to accessories, and thus, fortunately, more shirts with cuffs are being sewn again. Nowadays, cufflinks are one of the few pieces of jewellery that can adorn men. Why don't you make a fashion statement on your sleeves - a dignified pair of cufflinks made of noble material is so much more stylish than plain shirt buttons made of plastic!

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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