Noticing that all the men’s rags talked about the same old things every month — six pack abs, $2,000 watches, and hot babes — Brett McKay set out to start a new kind of magazine for men. The result was The Art of Manliness. Founded in 2008, the magazine’s mission is to help men become better husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, citizens, and just all around better men. Brett lives in Tulsa, OK with his wife, Kate McKay, where they collaborate on the blog.
One of my favorite memories from childhood was visiting my grandpa’s ranch out in New Mexico. His house was a treasure trove of manly ephemera and accoutrements. Handmade Navajo blankets, old pocket knives, unique pieces of cowboy art and the manly smells of coffee and pinon wood filled his world. I think that’s where my affection for unique, well-crafted goods came from.
The sad thing is, they just don’t make stuff like that anymore — at least on a mass scale. That’s why I dig Etsy so much. It’s nice to find a marketplace of craftsmen and designers who have a respect for tradition and quality. Below I’ve culled together a list of manly things from Etsy that remind me of that old ranch in Bosque Farms, NM. Maybe they will bring back memories of your granddad’s house, too.
Every man should carry a pocketknife; you never know when you’re going to need to slice open a box, cut some fishing line, or simply eat an apple like a badass. This pocket knife is especially manly, as Linda Layden has etched upon it a ship in full sail. Looks like something I’d find in Grandpa’s old desk.
Grandpa didn’t use one of those fancy quadruple bladed razors pitched to the modern man. He used a simple safety razor. This vintage kit from sumaline is perfect for the guy who’s ready to rediscover the manly tradition of wet shaving.
Grandpa wasn’t much of a drinker, but when he did imbibe, he didn’t go for some frou-frou apple martini. This whiskey scented shave jelly by the Portland General Store offers a great shave and the chance for you to smell like your favorite spirits.
Grandpa always carried a hanky in his back pocket. He used it in a myriad of ways. Wiping his brow after feeding the horses, cleaning grease off his hands after working on the tractor, and of course blowing his nose. These handkerchiefs by banoo give you all the function of a traditional hanky, but with an extra colorful and manly design.
My cousins and I loved exploring Grandpa’s study. It was full of old books, mementos from World War II, and random knickknacks. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had something like this hollow book flask safe by Secret Safe Books nestled away in his massive library for those nights when he was up late reading and writing.
One thing Grandpa was a master at was taking old stuff and re-purposing it for another use. He lived by the motto, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” These distinguished and manly Post Office Box Door Banks by Boxnmor are a fantastic example of Grandpa’s thrifty philosophy in action.
Grandpa didn’t have a mustache, but maybe yours did, and maybe he used mustache wax. All-Nighter Coffee and Pipe Tobacco Moustache Wax by Man’s Face Stuff lets you form that perfect old-school Rollie Fingers mustache while infusing your soup strainer with the manly smell of coffee and pipe tobacco.
Grandpa understood the importance of a well-shined shoe. This vintage wooden shoe shine box with accessories from Timbertoys looks exactly like the shoeshine box Grandpa had sitting on his back porch.
During the winters, my Grandpa warmed his den with pinion wood in a cast iron fireplace, and he’d have to split the wood so it would fit. This handcrafted Viking Woodworking Axe from Old School Tools looks like it would have gotten the job done (and in style!).
I love the smell of leather. I also appreciate a craftsman who can take a piece and use it as a canvas to make beautiful pieces of art. This hand-tooled billfold by Arkansas Leather reminds me of the many leather goods Grandpa had lying around his house.