In 1872 the useful items called solitaires (spring studs) were first patented by George West as ‘Fasteners for Collars and Cuffs’. The variation and design in the mechanism was tremendous. Even with the fixed studs (which did not come apart), there were several ingenious designs to make their use easier for the wearer. Some had oval shanks, some were crescent shaped and some had double oval shanks. There were also types with hanging bars which opened to pass through the stiff shirt materials and then snapped shut; plus many more were available at the time. However, it was the solitaires (later known as bachelor’s buttons) that were the most successful. Although they were made by various firms the greatest and most prolific manufacturer was George West. The design was excellent and examples remain in working condition today (as above). The principle of the mechanism is of two winged projections which, when depressed, release their hold on a central shank so that the back and front are completely separate and can be easily put through various thickness of shirt and collar before being snapped firmly together. Solitaires were made in a wide variety of materials such as gold, silver, mother of pearl, glass (painted, moulded and cut), brass, agate, moss agate, malachite, ‘imitation stones’, jet, bog oak and combinations of silver inlaid with gold, jet and mother of pearl. Registered marks date these studs to a limited period between 1870 and 1890. Manufacturers and makers included Greaves’ Patent, W. E. Wiley and Sons, F. Moore, Hales Patent, Reading, F. F. Abbey, S. Alford, D. Cutler, ‘Perfect Action’, Appleby and Stamps’ Patent and Atkins’ Improved Patent.
Extract taken and adapted from E. Eckstein and J & G Firkin’s Shire Album book Gentlemen’s Dress Accessories.