DIV IV - Links and Studs  (Page 1)

Preface: The purpose of this section is to provide background, discussion and visual examples of links and studs as defined in Div IV, Section 6 in the NBS Classification Guide1 (Blue Book). In the past, studs and links were assigned separate Division IV sections in the Blue Book. This separation was most likely created to simplify competition definitions and was arbitrarily based on the mechanical features for attachment to the garment. Links were button-like objects with movable parts and studs were button-like objects with a rigid post or rod attached to a foot that had no movable or separable parts. The current Blue Book brings links and studs into a single section to better facilitate an understanding of their history and usage. The classes assigned facilitate competition as before or in a manner more attuned to usage of the studs and links.

Discussion: The origin of links and studs is hard to pin down but probably occurred by the end of 17th century. Their invention was one branch in the evolution of the common button. Since links and studs require button holes for attachment, and, since buttons existed as ornaments and trim long before the introduction of the button hole, it is easy to infer that links and studs were invented as a type of improvement on buttons after buttons became functional for securing garments. The most obvious improvement is the ability of links and studs to function as a closure device without having to sew them to the garment. Thus, they were easily removed to prevent theft and to prevent damage when cleaning the clothing. Also important was the ability to use the same links and studs on a wide variety of garments. This might have been very important to men or women who did not have the means to purchase nice buttons for each vest, shirt, or shirtwaist. For the price of additional button holes, a nice set of links or studs could be worn on many garments. One reason for their fall from popularity is the change in fashions from ornamental buttons and trim to inexpensive, machine installed buttons that required no special care. Cuff links and shirt studs are still worn today by men wishing to make a fashion statement with their tuxedo or French cuff shirt. Spurred by the industrial revolution, hundreds of inventions were patented, starting in the late 1870s, that added clever mechanical devices to links and studs to ease their installation on stiff collars, shirts, and cuffs. These mechanical wonders included springs, levers, hinges, cams, snaps, prongs, wings, and the like. A sample of the patents granted for these inventions, including the actual mechanisms, can be seen by clicking on the 1877 Capron patent image to the left.

While definitions are blurry, collectors have generally considered links to be non-separable such as the earliest button-links in the form of two buttons connected together with cord or leather and later with wire or metal chain type links. The two linked buttons may have been the same or different in size and design. Their earliest use in Europe was for fastening collars and in Scandinavia, for example, button-links predated the use of buttons for fastening clothes. Toggles, which are buttons with a chain attached to the shank and a bar-like device attached to the other end of the chain, were also used as early clothes fasteners. They were probably in use in Spain by 1700. Cuff links may be one or more pieces and may be separable or non-separable. Like cuff links, studs come in the form of one or more pieces and may be separable or non-separable. Click on the image at the right to see further information and examples of early peasant silver button-links, toggles, and studs2.

The Blue Book now classifies links and studs into two main categories - back types and other design features. Back types include 6-1.1, Non-separable (includes linked buttons, toggles, and other mechanisms with moveable parts), 6-1.2, Rigid post (no moveable parts), 6-1.3, Separable (includes spring/lever or snap mechanisms for separating the front and back), and 6-1.4, Spiral wire shanks.  In terms of other design features, links and studs can be found with almost every possibility found in our buttons with the obvious exception of the sew-on feature of buttons. Material types will include glass, ceramics, enamel, metals, natural materials, and synthetic polymers. Construction techniques may including cast, molded, carved,  and others. Characteristics such as decorative finish (DF), other material embellishment (OME), and shapes will be the same as for Division I, III, and IX buttons. Class 6-2 allows and supports writing awards that focus on specific characteristics such as those above. See the footnote at the end of the Div IV listing in the Blue Book.

The image to the left shows an alternate mounting technique for studs. Using modern elastic cord, this technique allows safe and easy mounting of the studs to the card and does so in a way that allows direct viewing of the post, foot, operating mechanism and back mark without removing the stud from the card. The links at the bottom of this page lead to more information on the mounting process along with access to more information on peasant silver links and toggles and links patents.
Hover your mouse over the images below to see the back of the links/studs
Links to additional information open in a new window or tab. Just close the new window or tab to return here.
6-1.1 Non-separable (includes linked-buttons, toggles, other mechanisms with moveable parts)

Links and Toggles

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (7/8")
White metal with one brass link
BM "J R Gaunt & Son. Inc. New York"

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (7/8")
Brass with non-button shank - Paint DF

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (3/4")
Brass with single bar link

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (3/4")
Brass and pin shank shell - Realistic Shape

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (3/4")
Agate with pin shank

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (7/8")
Silver - Monogram

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (3/4")
Onyx with pin shank

6-1.1 Linked Buttons - (3/4")
Enamel - Basse-taille

6-1.1 Toggle - (1/2")
Typical Spanish peasant silver toggle
circa mid 1800s

6-1.1 Toggle - (3/4")
Brass - Pictorial

6-1.1 Toggle - (7/8")
Brass/Enamel with copper toggle
BM "Patent 356446 - Made in England"

Click here for links/studs patent info

Hinged Foot

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (7/8")
Abalone in brass

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (7/8")
Black Glass with precision inlay

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (3/4")
Brass with paste OME
BM "PAT. AUG.24. 1880

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (7/8")

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (3/4")

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (3/4")
Brass with paste OME
BM - A flower in a horseshoe

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (3/4")
Brass with tint DF and paste OME

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (1 x 5/8")
Celluloid with shell inlay
Realistic Shape

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (7/8")
Goldstone in brass - BM "PAT"

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (1 x 1/8")
Ivory - Elk tooth

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (7/8")
White Glass in brass - verbal

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (3/4")
Shell - Realistic (cuff)


6-1.1 Rotating Wings (1")
Silver - BM "PAT.NOV.??.35"

6-1.1 Wings (7/8")
Shell - Linear shape

6-1.1 Stirrup Wings (1/2")
Celluloid Collar Buttons

6-1.1 Finger Prongs (1")
Lithograph on Celluloid
BM "New York"

6-1.1 Finger Prongs (1")
Design under glass

6-1.1 Hinged prongs (1-1/8 x 3/4")
Hand painted enamel and gilt - BM "W&A"

6-1.1 Finger Prongs (11/16")
Precision inlay - BM is unreadable

6-1.1 Finger Prongs (13/16")
Brass with pastes OME
6-1.1 Hinged prongs (5/8")
Design under glass
Leda and the swan

6-1.1 Hinged prongs (7/8")
Lithograph in brass
verbal "Oberstdorf"

6-1.1 Stirrup prongs (3/4")
Shell Engraved with dye DF

6-1.1 Stirrup prongs (1-5/8")
Shell with gilding DF


6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (7/8")
Brass - BM "Haywar"

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (1-1/8 x 7/8")
Brass with cold enamel DF

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (1 x 3/4")
Brass with paint DF

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (1")
Plastic in brass

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (7/8")
Glass in metal - paint DF-Oval shape
Moveable post

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (1-1/4")
Brass with paste OME and Paint DF
Realistic shape

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (1-1/8")
White metal - Realistic shape

6-1.1 Bullet Toggle (7/8")
Agate - BM "Austria"


6-1.1 Telescoping (1-1/8")
White metal with paste OME

6-1.1 Telescoping (1")
Glass in metal

6-1.1 Telescoping (1")
White metal with paste OME

Modern Tuxedo Shirt Studs

14K with Ruby

Price = $4200  (free shipping)

Special Case

6-1.1 Hinged Foot (7/8")
Black Glass in brass
Pin and most of chain missing

6-1.2 Stud with Chain and Pin
Pin for positioning the detachable cuff and preventing loss of the stud

Specialty House Catalogue

Click on image to see U.S. Patent

Thanks to the many collaborators who made their collections available for the images shown on these pages. They include Jane Perry, Mona Brown, Barbara Barrans, Lou Yeargain, Kevin Kinne, William Hentges, Jeffrey Lee, Adrienne Bennett, Shirley Clark, and Karen Farnsworth. Special thanks to Jane Perry, author of A Collectors Guide to Peasant Silver Buttons, for images and input related to the special page on Peasant Silver Links, Toggles and Studs. Others who contributed reviews, comments and support included Ellen Alwood, Pat Koehler, Joan Lindsay, Bud Weiser, Ed Hurley, Diane Epting, Gwen Niemisto, and Pat Fields.

Credits and References:
(1) National Button Society Blue Book, Official NBS Classification and Competition Guidelines
(2) A Collectors Guide to Peasant Silver Buttons by Jane Perry. Lulu online Publishing, 2007
(3) 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue. Ed. Fred L. Israel. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1968. p. 425.US
(4) US Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Images, http://www.uspto.gov/. 2008
(5) Cuff Jewelry: A Historical Account for Collectors and Antique Dealers by Howard L. Bell Jr. (http://www.cbweiser.com/books.htm)
(6) Collar and Cuff Industry, Antique Week, Central Edition, November 8, 1999
(7) Cuff Links, Antique Week, Central Edition, September 7, 1998
(8) The Big Book of Buttons by Elizabeth Hughes and Marion Lester. Boyertown, PA: Boyertown Publishing Company, 1981.