Some several months ago I tweeted that I had had it with plastic collar stiffeners - they either broke in the washing-machine because I had omitted to remove them before laundering or they disappeared because I had remembered to remove them! - and had put an order into the workshop for a set in sterling silver.
Anyone watching that space would, I’m afraid, have been disappointed because it has taken until now to create, engrave and photograph the result. In case you think this is a poor reflection on the workshop, I hasten to add that the workshop always puts a paying customer ahead of any of my peculiar whims!
There is nothing so very special about the Ruffs sterling silver collar stiffener, being based on a top Jermyn Street shirtmakers original, except for the details (and maybe the price tag). It’s all in the detail, the detail, the detail. For example, one side has been hallmarked with my grandfather’s initials, CNAR (our maker’s mark); 925 to indicate the silver content (92.5%); a Rose for the Sheffield Assay Office, who tested and marked the piece, as they do all of our work; and finally the date letter, a lower case P, for 2014. The other side has been inscribed with our Ruffs logotype that can be seen at the base of our rings. Lastly, and for me, the crowning glory is the surface-engraving of our crest, the little ruff bird, such as would appear on a set of cufflinks only slightly smaller necessarily.
What I really, really like about all this is that no-one will ever be privy to such extravagance or whatever you want to call it! The stiffeners are hidden from sight in the little pocket on the reverse of the shirt collar. It reminds me of a story I heard as an undergraduate about the famous Russian theatre director, Constantin Stanislavski. In one production, a precious necklace was a prop that was locked away in a safe and never seen throughout the play. Naturally, if it was never actually seen, no-one in their right mind would put a real necklace in a safe for the duration. Stanislavski insisted that not only was it in the safe but that it was both real and precious!
The price tag I mention would be £250 + VAT per set which would include the addition of an individual’s crest in place of our ruff bird.