The Spoils of Poynton

My rôle here at Dandyism.net, I suppose, is that of the louche uncle, similar to Uncle Adolphe in “Remembrance of Things Past,” who is excommunicated from the family because, in circumstances not of his own devising and against his own wishes, he introduced his young nephew Marcel, an unexpected caller, to the “lady in pink,” a demimondaine, who happened to be paying a call on him at the same time. So when members and guests inquire from time to time about how to go about being a dandy, I feel a certain obligation to provide not so much my advice as my experience. Two recurrent themes are “How can I be poor and still be a dandy?” and “How can I, who live in Outer Podunk, acquire the equipage of the dandy?” My experience is that one word answers both questions. eBay.

Dandyism.net has earlier referenced the clothing available there, both new and vintage. Indeed, there are many excellent opportunities to buy quality merchandise, usually last season’s overstock from major clothing stores, at discount prices, either at auction or a prix fixe. There are, moreover, many more treasures awaiting those who troll eBay’s stream of commerce.

Over the past five years I have acquired, without any effort, a host of dandy paraphernalia to fill my humble abode Poynton House. There are the usual – ties, silk and linen handkerchiefs, casual and sports shirts, slacks, sandals, shoes, luggage, umbrellas, briefcases and even a brand new RTW suit. Then there are the more specific indicia of the dandy:

* Four wooden-staff walking sticks topped with, respectively, a wooden handle carved in the shape of a pharaoh’s head; an agate sphere; a vintage (and now illegal to make) ivory crook for formal occasions; and, for special occasions, sterling silver cast in the shape of Atlas bearing the globe.

* Three cigarette holders, one made of mother of pearl; a vintage, but virgin, bakelite holder from 1930s France; and the crown jewel, so to speak, a 14 kt. holder from Tiffany.

* For my calling cards, three cigarette cases: sterling silver with an engine-engraved design; another in sterling silver with black and red enamel in the art deco style; and a two-compartment sterling and ostrich skin case.

* Gold, sterling, and enamel lighters and fountain pens from S.T. Du Pont and Dunhill.

* Sterling (from Puiforcat) and 18 kt. gold (from Cartier) pill cases.

* From the competitive bidding world of cufflinks, 18 kt. gold links from Cartier; sterling silver and enamel art deco links; and, my favorite, cufflinks bearing the effigy, in sterling, of the Duke of Windsor.

* Various items of dandy media, so to speak, including numerous books about dandyism, the Beau and other 19th-century dandies, and the Duke; a 1930s edition of cigarette cards featuring beaux throughout history; a VHS of the movie Beau Brummell, starring Stewart Granger; various Beau Brummell containers and tins; and three different videos and an audio tape of a musical, still touring the provinces but which has never made it to Broadway, about the Duke and the Duchess.

Why, there have been auctions for authentic second-degree relics. One in particular stands out in my memory : a swatch, mounted and framed with a photograph and a “certificate of authenticity,” from one of the Duke’s handkerchiefs!

The purpose of the foregoing catalog is merely to illustrate what is available to the inquiring dandy. Dozens of more types of items, perhaps more to your liking or more in keeping with your interests, are offered daily. This is not to say that all of these things came cheap, at least in the absolute sense; but they did at the very least come much cheaper. Be patient. Decide what you really want. Don’t overbid. Unless the item is literally unique, the identical twin or a sibling of your object of desire will be up for auction again within the year. Bonne chance!

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