Ed Weiner Cuff Links
This is the first article in a series about American silver/goldsmiths.
At the end of World War II, Ed Weiner was part of a group of influential silver/goldsmiths based in Greenwich Village. These jewelry makers, together with a few others in upstate New York and Northern California reestablished American studio jewelry artistry dormant since the end of the Arts and Crafts period of the early 1900s.
Weiner did not limit himself to those individuals that would venture to Greenwich Village he also entered the mainstream with a store on 53rd Street. While the more adventuresome pieces remained downtown, the midtown location did introduce modern jewelry to many people that felt Greenwich Village was just too Bohemian to explore.
Probably because of the midtown store, Weiner produced more cuff links than his contemporaries. He produced them, as he produced his full range of jewelry, in various styles ranging from what some critics have described as cubism http://pages.captainhucksbooty.com/3559/PictPage/1921788809.html (I prefer to think of these pieces as a cross between Arts & Crafts and Art Deco) to pieces that are just plain fun http://pages.captainhucksbooty.com/3559/PictPage/1921788808.html.
Contrary to his own proclamations, I do not believe wearing his cuff links proclaims an affinity with modern art. However, when I wear his cuff links, I am saying that I enjoy unique, well designed and well made pieces that have an artist’s flair. Which may be an affinity to art, just not necessarily to modern art?
Georg Jensen Cuff Links
This is the first in a series of articles regarding foreign producers of quality cuff links. Georg Jensen is probably the most widely known silversmith, (there are also some wonderful gold pieces to be found). However, I start with this company, not solely because of its visibility, but rather, because it made cuff links from the very beginning and still produces some cuff links that were actually designed by Georg Jensen http://pages.captainhucksbooty.com/3559/PictPage/1921699544.html (a Jensen designed manufactured in the early 1950s).
Georg Jensen grew up in a small Danish town where his father worked in a flatware factory. Georg’s first job was at that flatware factory where he produced models. Probably in order to further their son’s career, the family moved to Copenhagen where Georg was apprenticed to a goldsmith. As was common at the time, Georg also attended a technical school to broaden his artistic training. He started sculpting at that school and three years after he had received his journeyman’s certificate as a goldsmith he was accepted as a sculpture student at the Royal Academy of Art. He gained notice as a sculptor and later as a ceramic designer, but found that he could not support himself or his family in those artistic endeavors and returned to making jewelry.
Georg Jensen jewelry clearly shows that it was made by a sculpture silversmith. He also stressed individual artistry and contrary to most workrooms of the time, other designers for the firm were able to sign their designs. Many of Jensen designers had the same broad artistic training as Georg Jensen with some already being recognized as fine artists prior to joining the Jensen firm.
When purchasing Georg Jensen cuff links, one needs to look at the marks on the pieces to determine when they were made and if one of the major designers created the piece. Another way to determine age is in the workmanship and how the cuff link is put together. Jensen’s earliest cuff links had a chain connector. You will find pieces from the 30s where there is a solid connector with the back piece attached to swivel http://pages.captainhucksbooty.com/3559/PictPage/1921149467.html. In the 40s Jensen started using what I consider the Danish swivel which is much easier to use than the type from the 30s and is still used by Jensen and most Scandinavian firms. Cuff links from the late 40s and 50s are generally fully finished while the more modern pieces just having a plain back. http://pages.captainhucksbooty.com/3559/PictPage/903310.html
Georg Jensen is now part of the Royal Copenhagen group that still emphasizes design and quality in all its areas. Please note that some of the designs being produced did not originate with the Jensen Company as Royal Copenhagen has acquired other fine Danish silversmiths and have merged those acquisitions into the Georg Jensen Company.
Also note that the Danish pewter cuff links made by Jorgen Jensen have no relationship to the Georg Jensen Company. Yes, Georg did have a son Jorgen, however, Georg’s son always worked as a silversmith, both on his own and in the Georg Jensen Workroom.
The best book on Jensen is “Georg Jensen a Tradition of Splendid Silver” by Janet Drucker, published by Schiffer. The Druckers are the premier Jensen dealer here in the U.S. When you speak with any of them, you know that they love what they sell. The book lists the major Jensen artists, the specific artists marks as well as the variety of maker’s marks used by the Georg Jensen Company. This book is a must for any Jensen collector, but may be too much for a cuff link collector with just a couple pair of Jensen cuff links.
There are other more general books that provide some of the maker’s mark information on Georg Jensen. “Warmans Jewelry: A Fully Illustrated Price Guide to 19th and 20th Century Jewelry, Including Victorian, Art Nouveau and Costume (2nd Ed.)” by Christine Romero provides a broad view of many jewelry areas and should be part of any fine vintage/antique jewelry collector’s library. “Collectible Silver Jewelry Identification and Value Guide” by Fred Rezazadeh, published by Collectors Books is extremely well done and easy to use and a must for anyone owning a broad range of silver cuff links.
There are many books on Studio gold/silver smiths. One of the best for a historical prospective on American jewelers is Susan Grant Lewin’s “One of a Kind American Art Jewelry Today” published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Others such as “Contemporary American Jewelry Design” by Ettagale Blauer, published by Chapman and Hall and “The New Jewelry Trends + Tradition” by Peter Dormer and Ralph Turner, published by Thames and Hudson focus on the craft and individual artists. All these books should be of interest to Cuff Linkers interested in studio pieces; however, I would not recommend adding these books to your library unless your collection (or that of your significant other) focuses on contemporary studio jewelry artists.
Special thanks to TIAS.com
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