The Art Deco Cufflinks of Jacob Hookaylo
By Arthur Anderson
One of the delights of antique cufflinks is exploring the history and discovering forgotten works of the jewelers who created these miniature master pieces. Over the past 150 years firms creating fine jewelry in the United States have numbered in the hundreds, if not more. No doubt a large percentage of these jewelers created cufflinks.
In several earlier notes (see list below) I wrote about the cufflinks of one of the more mysterious of these talented makers ... the Winged Bridge Maker. Nicknamed for the distinctive wing-like bridges that unite the ends of the cufflinks, this maker created beautiful white and yellow gold cufflinks during the early Art Deco period. The cufflinks sparkle with the exuberance of the Jazz Age featuring finely engraved centers surrounded by bold geometric and foliate borders.
The cufflinks are identified by the distinctive winged bridges, as well as the quality of the craftsmanship, beauty of the center engraving and bold border work. However, beyond that there are no maker's marks or other clues to the identity of the Winged Bridge Maker. The only marking on the bridges is "14K" for the purity of the gold. Until recently, the maker of these elegant cufflinks has been unidentified.
The mystery of the Winged Bridge Maker was solved with the help of the above cufflink. Beneath a shimmering layer of dark magenta enamel this cufflink is identical to the example pictured at the beginning of this note. They both have yellow gold centers finely engraved with a pattern of wavy lines creating an optical illusion of stacked boxes. They both have white gold borders with geometric motifs and radiant palmette corners.
The enameled cufflink was created by Jacob Hookaylo, a jeweler of Ukrainian descent who immigrated to the United States and founded a self-named jewelry workshop in Newark, New Jersey around 1920. The cufflink at the beginning of this note is attributed to the Winged Bridge Maker.
On the reverse of the enameled cufflink a winged bridge connects the two ends. The center of the bridge is stamped with the maker's mark of the Hookaylo firm - and "H" within a lateral parallelogram.
The bridge of the signed cufflink is angular with hints of Greek key and other geometric motifs. The bridge design reflects the Art Deco style of the 1920s. The bridges of the unsigned cufflinks are more flowing with an Art Nouveau sensibility. However, both cufflinks clearly date from the 1920s as indicated by the use of white gold. The changing bridge design, as well as the introduction of enamel work, may reflect the evolution of the Hookaylo firm as it adapted to the changing fashions of the Jazz Age.
Based on the above, I believe that the Hookaylo firm created the cufflinks previously identified as work of the Winged Bridge Maker. In short, Jacob Hookaylo is the Winged Bridge Maker.
Of course any such attribution warrants several caveats. Identifying Jacob Hookaylo as the Winged Bridge Maker is, at this time, based on a single pair of signed cufflinks which strongly resembles a pair of cufflinks attributed to the Winged Bridge Maker. As other signed pairs come to light or if documentary evidence is found (for example Hookaylo trade catalogs, receipts, design patents, etc...) the attribution will be strengthened. Currently little is known about Jacob Hookaylo and the firm he founded. Given the beauty of the cufflinks, further research into the firm and its founder would be well worth the effort.
A second caveat regards the maker's mark. Jacob Hookaylo was not the only jewelry maker to employee a maker's mark with an "H" inside a parallelogram. Dorothy Rainwater's invaluable reference, American Jewelry Manufacturers, identifies two other jewelry maker's with similar marks - Haltom Industries of Ft. Worth, Texas and J&L Hartzberg of New York City. Haltom Industries was founded in 1948 and employed an "H" in a square diamond shape as its maker's maker. The dissimilarity of the maker's mark and the date of the firm's founding preclude it as the maker of the above enameled cufflink or as a candidate for the Winged Bridge Maker.
These and many other fine cufflinks can be found in
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