One of my favorite cities in the world is located on the banks of the Rhine River. Originally a western outpost of the Romans, it was known as Colonia Agrippina later to become simply Cologne. Displaying the resilience of a phoenix, Cologne arose from ashes after it was nearly leveled by aerial bombing in World War II. The photos of the destruction of Cologne would make an architectural historian weep. But such is the price of letting a maniacal, racist, mass murdering fuckhead run your country for a while.
This wonderfully zany German city marches to its own beat and perhaps that is why it has become home to so many people from all over the world. It is cosmopolitan, sophisticated, modern and full of history at the same time.
I might never actually have visited this city had it not been for my late father-in-law who founded an art school in Cologne and lived there for the last fifteen years of his life. I have been back so many times since; it has become a second home for me.
The heart and symbol of the city is the enormous gothic Cathedral known as the Dom (pronounced dome). With its dramatically lit twin spires towering into the night sky it keeps watch over this Rhine River City like two cat’s eyes glowing in the darkness.
In Cologne, the image of the twin spires is everywhere; from tasteful renderings in every medium to cheap schlocky versions pasted on every souvenir and gee-gaw imaginable.
There are Dom glasses, Dom coffee cups and Dom coasters. There are Dom statues, Dom place mats and Dom pencils. There is even Dom beer. It is hard to imagine something that has not been produced at one time or another with a Dom on it. It is impossible not to get wrapped up in Dom fever. The cathedral itself is truly something to behold as you exit the main train station in the city center.
I myself am not immune. On a recent visit I was passing a neighborhood newsagent near the Rudolfplatz when something caught my eye through the window. It looked like a tarnished old pair of twin spires reminiscent of the Dom but cast in silver. What’s more they looked like cufflinks. If they were, I knew I had to have them.
I entered the small store and asked to see them. Sure enough they were cufflinks but had become tarnished with age from sitting in the window. The woman behind the counter informed me they were the last pair and half off.
I took photos before and after the cleaning and I am very proud of the effects of a little silver polish. They are marked QUAK 925 on the back. I don’t know what this means but I imagine it relates to the purity of the silver.
What I really like about them and what I could not tell before I polished them is that each spire is different. The left spire has a texture and the right is completely smooth. Also, one tower is slightly taller than the other just like the ones on the real church. It is a subtle characteristic but I think it really makes the cufflinks. The designer may be anonymous but his or her efforts are greatly appreciated by a fan of both the city and the cufflinks.