Are you wearing the real George W. Bush?

The 'commemorative' outer box
The 'commemorative' inner box
The 'G' and the 'W' should be connected and horizontal, not curved.
Pair of George W. Bush 'commemorative' cobalt blue cuff links. Notice the piece of metal left between the olive branch and wing and arrows and wing?  Not good.  The other cuff link is missing these pieces.  Two different cuff links in the same box?

You look good. Very good. Crisp, white shirt with cobalt blue studs and cobalt blue, official presidential George W. Bush cuff links to match. Black tie and tux. Wonderful overcoat and cashmere scarf. Your new shoes shined to perfection. Limousine waiting. Your date is matching perfection. Ready to attend the President’s State of the Union speech? Good. Tell me, though, are you wearing the real George W. Bush?

What, you ask? Your cuff links, of course. There is an 8 to 1 chance that your cuff links are a knockoff. If you so much as attempt to show them off with your State of the Union buddies, they will know. You don’t need that, so let me show you how I know your cuff links aren’t authentic – just so you know.

First of all, look at the box they came in. Official presidential cuff links are not packaged in a plush, dark blue leatherette case with gold trim and a gold, silkscreen, presidential coat-of-arms inside. Second, the outer, dark blue, cardboard box with the same gold, silkscreen coat-of-arms isn’t authentic either. Your cuff links, my friend, were probably reproduced by an offshore, commercial company and sold to outlet stores, on online auctions, and directly to collectors as authentic — but are really what we euphemistically label as ‘commemoratives.’ Or reproductions. Or fakes.

The cobalt blue, presidential cuff link was introduced by Richard Nixon in the 1970s. They are very stylish with the dark blue background and raised, bas relief presidential eagle in gold, surrounded by 50 inlaid gold stars and gold roping around the edge (the early ones from Nixon to Reagan didn’t have this roping). These early ones are extremely rare. Presidents gave sets of these special cuff links only to the most deserving of individuals. Still do. There are other styles of cuff links that are given out more often, but not these.

Because of their rarity and beauty, these cobalt blue, presidential cuff links proved more popular. Everyone had to have them. So I can see why you would want them. And so, beginning in Bill Clinton’s second term or so, we’ve noticed that this most rare of presidential gifts was becoming rather plentiful. They were being offered everywhere all of a sudden at very high prices. How come? They were being manufactured and made available outside official channels.

So, what do the real ones look like, you ask? Quite the same, I’m afraid. I said they look alike, but you can tell the difference easily. First of all, the authentic cuff link itself is heavier and thicker than the ‘commemorative’ ones. On the reverse side, the signatures of George W. Bush are supposed to be engraved horizontally, not curved like yours are. The ‘G’ and the ‘W’ are not connected, they are separate. The correct, engraved signature connects the ‘G’ and the ‘W’.

Therefore, you now have five ways to tell whether your cuff links are ‘commemorative’ rather than authentic.

– One, the inner box is not supposed to be a dark blue leatherette,
– Two, the outer box is not supposed to be a dark blue cardboard,
– Three, the cuff link is very light in weight and smaller,
– Four, the signature is curved instead of horizontal, and
– Five, the ‘G’ and the ‘W’ are separated.

Wait, I didn’t say how the real cuff links are packaged? You’re right. I didn’t. Just like the program ‘McGyver’, they always left out one important step so their on-screen escape sequences couldn’t be duplicated at home. I’m going to be like McGyver and not show you what kind of box the authentic cuff links come in so they won’t be duplicated and be confused with the authentic ones. Sorry.

Still, wear the ‘commemoratives.’ Nothing wrong with that. They look great on you. Just don’t show off, that’s all. Those with the real things will know.

But, if you are caught with that “knowing look,’ you might say that, yes, these cuff links are great, aren’t they? Well, they aren’t the real things, of course. No, I don’t want to wear my real ones outside in case they might be lost or damaged. Much like your date’s diamond necklace. Then, move fast.

NOTE: If you are paying less than $100 for a pair of presidential cobalt cuff links, they are fake. Authentic cobalt presidential cuff links are very rare and can cost upwards of $250 a pair. Also, any president before Richard Nixon did not produce cobalt cuff links. Lastly, sometimes the manufacturer ‘forgets’ to remove the small piece of metal between the eagle’s wings and the olive branch and between the eagle’s wing and the arrows of war, like the photo above found on Ebay. That is a sure sign that the cuff links are ‘commemorative.’

  • Todd Mixon

    Your article is a bit confusing to me. I realize your article is about the younger one, but I have a question/comment about his father.

    I was a hotel Security Director and the elder President Bush made several visits to our hotel. On one visit, The lead Secret Service agent gave me a set of President Bush cufflinks – not the cobalt blue but rather the ones with the color seal. Yes the blue box has his signature on the lid rather than a coat of arms, but the signature on the back is curved.

    You suppose they purchased “knock offs” to hand out? Doesn’t seem likely but then again I am no expert.

    Your thoughts please!


    Todd Mixon

    • Bob Broadus

      My buddy forwarded this Craiglist offering for Camp David Cufflinks.- the offer was removed but we have contacted him directly to make a offer, he still has the cufflinks= how do i know these are original??
      Thanks in advance for the help to a “new” cufflink collector


      Date: 2010-01-09, 8:45PM PST
      Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]


      This is an original set of PRESIDENTIAL cufflinks. Presidential Retreat – Camp David. I picked these up at a high end Jeweler Collector in New York a number of years back during the Reagan Administration.
      I am asking $110.00 for the set because they are not only collectible they are great to adorn. I received many compliments on them. They are not plastic and are original.

      Location: SOCAL
      it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

      PostingID: 1545560066
      This is an original set of PRESIDENTIAL cufflinks. Presidential Retreat – Camp David. I picked these up at a high end Jeweler Collector in New York a number of years back during the Reagan Administration.
      I am asking $110.00 for the set because they are not only collectible they are great to adorn. I received many compliments on them. They are not plastic and are original.
      • Location: SOCAL
      • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
      Original URL:

      • Tom Carrier


        There have been at least two different designs for official Camp David items that collectors are aware of. The first showed the Camp David entrance sign, the second a version of the presidential coat-of-arms. We’re not sure when the changeover occurred, but probably during the Clinton Administration.

        There has also been a commercially produced set sold in gift shops throughout Washington, D.C. and still are.

        Without a photo of the cufflinks I couldn’t tell right now which set you have. The difference is between the gift shop version at $25.95 and a presidential set valued at about $125 to $175.

        Tom Carrier

    • Tom Carrier

      Todd, sorry that I’m just getting to your question. I wasn’t aware that you had written in until the second question appeared, so I’ll answer yours now.

      It has been a tradition by presidents since about Ronald Reagan to issue several types of presidential cufflinks: the cobalt blues, die cast full seal ones (look like minted coins), and the ones you are talking about, the full color presidential seal silk screened version, all with engraved signatures on the reverse. The latter two were given out interchangeably, while the cobalts were given out to more special guests.

      There is no reason to believe that your set is a commercial knockoff. The Secret Service does not, as a rule, give out unauthorized White House items as a thank you to all those who provide assistance to the president while on travel.

      Today, that set has a retail value of between $125 and $175.

      A very nice keepsake.

      Tom Carrier

      • Todd Mixon

        Thanks for the response about my cuff links. I appreciate it!


  • James Pahl

    Dear Tom,

    I read your article concerning the authenticity of the presidential cobalt blue cufflinks on the market. Do you know a seller or vendor that could be trusted in selling these authentic items? Also, are you familiar with Ron Wade in Texas?

    Thanks for your help!


  • Marc Nadeau

    I have a set of george bush handed to me from the White House Chief of Staff John Sununu .Do you know the value of this set. I would be willing to provide a picture .

    Marc Nadeau

    • Tom Carrier


      Thanks for sending the photos. You have an authentic pair of George H W Bush, Sr enamel cufflinks, so called because of the enamel covering over the silk screened printing of the seal of the president. This is the first time this enamel was used for these cufflinks and continues to be a standard feature for presidential cufflinks to this day.

      The blue box with embossed signature and the signatures on the reverse of each cufflink all add to their authenticity. There is some wear with the felt in the box and the box itself, but not enough to detract from the value of the cufflinks (and I didn’t see any wear with them).

      Taken together, your cufflinks are authentic and can sell to collectors from $125 to $195 a set as long as they remain in good condition and the box and cufflinks remain together.

      Tom Carrier

  • Lesley

    I don’t know if this is the right place to post my question, but here it goes. My father collects Presidential cufflinks (he has them from Nixon to Bush, though some are probably replicas). I would love to get him a set of Obama cufflinks, but can’t seem to find out if he’s even released any yet. Any help or guidance would be great. Thanks!

    • Tom Carrier


      You ask the very same question all of us collectors are asking ourselves – where are the Obama official items? We are beginning the reelection cycle pretty soon and we have yet to find any – and I mean any – official jewelry of any kind attributed to the Obama White House.

      We have rumors. We have possibilities. But so far nothing concrete. That is why the commercial vendors are having a great time selling ‘official’ jewelry items online and in gift stores. They are not official in any sense of the term.

      So, what to do. We wait. Hopefully, a White House staffer will eventually tell someone who will tell someone else who will let the collectors know exactly how the Obama Administration intends to celebrate its historic time in the White House through its collectibles.

      That is the best I can do for now.

      Tom Carrier

  • Chris

    Hi Tom,

    Great article!

    As for Obama jewelry, it does exist. I don’t personally have anything from him, but I have seen the authentic diecast lapel pins. They come in the usual blue box with his primary autopen signature on the top of the box and on the reverse of the pin. I have a pair of VP cufflinks Joe Biden gave me and they are also packaged similarly.

    I have a question regarding the cobalt cufflinks. How to the Presidential Library issued cobalts compare to the Administration issued ones? Are the Library issues considered authentic? It is safe to assume these are of the same quality as the White House issued ones, and not the low-quality ones that are a dime a dozen on eBay?

    • Tom Carrier


      I’m sure official Obama cobalt cufflinks do exist. We just haven’t been convinced so far that the styles we’re seeing are authentic to the White House.

      The cobalt cufflinks created for library resale are different from the official White House versions. We can tell the library versions based on the box used and other measurements that I’d prefer not to disclose at the risk of having these differences erased in future commercial manufacture.

      Suffice it to say, the library versions are exactly the same as found online for resale at about $45 each, yes, and are not considered authentic presidential cufflinks.

      Tom Carrier

      • Chris

        Thanks for your reply Tom.

        I actually have the opportunity to buy a pair of seemingly authentic Clinton cobalts and I wanted to get your thoughts on this. They’re first term issue and in the thick square box. Is it safe to say these are authentic just by the box? I know from the Clinton second term on the box was downsized and redesigned, but I didn’t know if knockoffs ever came in the authentic box I referenced. I don’t want to go into too many details about the packaging on a public forum, but I’m quite familiar with the old authentic box and the new one used today, and these are in what appears to be an authentic box.

        I have pictures of the pair I’m thinking of buying which I could send to you. Any help would be greatly appreciated–I just don’t want to get burned on a fake pair.


  • Jacki Anderson

    I have a George Bush Sr lapel pin that was handed to me personally by Marlin Fitzwater when George Bush Sr. was in Marshfield Mo July 4th 1991. Some of the presidents aids actually took our son and daughter with them to eat Kentucky Fried chicken in the building they were using on the square and took my husband and our youngest child to stand close to the presidents podium for his speech. How much would this pin be worth today?

  • David

    I recently bought a set of cufflinks with a lapel pin, and I was hoping someone reading this may be able to enlighten me. The set are George H. W Bush vice-presidential cufflinks with an eagle lapel pin. They have the seal on the front of course, and and engraved likeness of his signature on the back as well as “BBCO” at the base of the bar. The thing that’s confusing me (total novice) is that they’re solid gold tone, neither enameled or cobalt.


  • RDP

    Hi Tom!

    I received a set of cufflinks as a gift. Since I’m female and don’t wear button down shirts too often, and don’t collect this sort of item, I’ve decided to either sell them or give them to a friend who collects political memorabilia as a gift. Before I do either, I’d like to try and authenticate them, but don’t know where to start. If I decide to sell them, do I need to have a certificate of authenticity? The person who gave them to me said they’re pretty rare, perhaps you can take a peek? =)

  • Andy

    I have a pair of president george h w bush cufflinks that we’re given to Stan Musial, what are they worth

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