They say follow your passion, and Michael Rodriguez, once a paralegal, did just that, turning his cuff link collecting into The Missing Link, a New York City shop with 20,000 pairs. Most are vintage, and some have even been in the spotlight, featured on television’s “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire.”
The charm of novelty cuff links, says Rodriguez, is wearing your passion on your sleeve. Of course, we were driven to the cigar theme illustrated by the 1950s Dolan & Bullock links in 14K gold with ruby insets (pinned to the blue cuff, bottom right, $1,450) and a set with inlaid cigar images circa 1980 (bottom left, $75). Rodriguez also has what he calls “doers,” links that perform a function. Examples include the 1950s Austrian roulette wheels at upper right that actually spin ($185) and working cap guns from the ’50s (middle left, $245), certain to pep up a boring meeting.
Links also follow design periods. Rodriguez has merchandise dating back to the late Georgian period of the 19th century and spans the Victorian and Edwardian eras as well. His specialty is the art deco period, as seen in the enameled sterling rectangles from Germany (lower right $525). The enameled “Gumdrops” design from Georg Jensen captures a pop art aesthetic from the ’60s (middle top, $850). The Kum-A-Part brand of the 1920s made double-sided links that snap together (red star, upper left, $175; plain blue, middle right, $495; blue with design, upper left, $595).
While a dressing-up trend is currently bolstering links, Rodriguez says his business has always been good. “I hate to use the word resurgence, because I’ve always been into them.”