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Guest Curator: Take a Hint From Old-Timers With the Art of Manliness

Sep 8, 2010

by ArtofManliness handmade and vintage goods

art-of-manliness-photo2.jpgNoticing 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.

My cousins and I played many a football game on Thanksgiving Day at Grandpa’s house. I wish we had one of these handsome, handmade leather footballs by LemonBall.


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.

Etsy Dudes is our latest weekly email and it’s launching later this month. We’ll be featuring clothes, gadgets and gear just for guys. Get on the list now!

 A Dude’s Perspective | Guest Curator Posts


  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 7 years ago

    Great 'manly' items! Thank you.

  • SewMuchMoreDecor

    SewMuchMoreDecor said 7 years ago

    Wow so manly! I love the pocket knife :) So many great gift ideas here to remember!

  • EstateBum

    EstateBum said 7 years ago

    man stuff great picks

  • HappyHuismus

    HappyHuismus said 7 years ago

    Cool! Love the pocket knife!

  • lithiascreations

    lithiascreations said 7 years ago

    Im a girl..and you made me look! Good job! Now, all I want to do is go to YouTube and find the Dos Equis guy ;)

  • chinadoodle

    chinadoodle said 7 years ago

    Lets hear it for Men's Stuff.

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 7 years ago

    Great picks! I love vintage (or vintage style) men's stuff! That looks like a beautifully made football.

  • smeastman

    smeastman said 7 years ago

    Fantastic! I can almost smell my dad's Old Spice and Brylcreem right now. Thank you for a great feature.

  • KMalinka

    KMalinka said 7 years ago

    Wonderful picks!

  • whitehaus

    whitehaus said 7 years ago

    the book safe is hilarious. love it!

  • lynntodddesigns

    lynntodddesigns said 7 years ago


  • sewnewthings

    sewnewthings said 7 years ago

    Great ideas for the guys!

  • withremote

    withremote said 7 years ago

    these are amazing, the ax is my favorite!

  • BusyBeadLady

    BusyBeadLady said 7 years ago

    My memory of grandpa is of a cup of shaving cream with the bristle brush in it. His face was smooth, but his moustache tickled when he kissed me!

  • BlueSky10

    BlueSky10 said 7 years ago

    Very cool

  • blueridgewoodworking

    blueridgewoodworking said 7 years ago

    What a great are the MAN! Love the story, your right there is alot things that are not made the same anymore. Great Job!!!

  • CandacesCloset

    CandacesCloset said 7 years ago

    Manly, yes. But I like it too.

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 7 years ago

    Cool collection...great idea!

  • leighmade

    leighmade said 7 years ago

    i love that whiskey old fashioned shave label.

  • fleuriste

    fleuriste said 7 years ago

    How neat! Just sent hubby the magazine link. He LOVES stuff like this and he does carry around a fancy pocket knife :)

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts said 7 years ago

    Man oh man! Nice article.

  • vitamini

    vitamini said 7 years ago

    Even us chicks like eating apples like badasses. :) Cool finds!

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 7 years ago

    Nice and rustic. The idea behind "The Art of Manliness" makes me swoon. Thank you SO much for pulling together something manly that isn't junky!

  • darksquirrel

    darksquirrel said 7 years ago

    This is a great article!!!

  • expressyourself

    expressyourself said 7 years ago


  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit said 7 years ago

    Manly YES!!! But I like it too!!! In fact, I love it!!! the collective treasury and the individual pieces of art!!!

  • deepfried

    deepfried said 7 years ago

    haha The Art of Manliness eh? love it That pocketknife is AMAZING

  • WeeBindery

    WeeBindery said 7 years ago

    A toast to Men! This is a great reminder of all of the wonderful goodies on Etsy for Men (and boys)!!

  • ImagineStudio

    ImagineStudio said 7 years ago

    Love it all.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 7 years ago

    oh, heck yes... though i hope that hemingway book flask hideaway is not a first edition. :)

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 7 years ago

    Very nice selection!

  • TheRitzyMeow

    TheRitzyMeow said 7 years ago

    Well done, ~deepens voice~ manly indeed :p

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie said 7 years ago

    What a great article! I'm sure all the men appreciate it and us ladies can find some nice gifts for them here. :)

  • sintwister

    sintwister said 7 years ago

    Really cool items! I found five things i should get for my husband!

  • TheSteelFork

    TheSteelFork said 7 years ago

    wonderful! great collection- love the tribute to Grandpa

  • TheSteelFork

    TheSteelFork said 7 years ago

    great collection- love the tribute to grandpa!

  • VerbenaCouture

    VerbenaCouture said 7 years ago

    Thank you soooo much for this post!!!!!! i know what to get my husband, my father in law, may dad..... soo many great gift ideas... and this helps cause i do not always know what they need or want! :)

  • GalleonGal

    GalleonGal said 7 years ago

    fascinating man treasure store and beautiful memories I have my grandfather and dads items thanks

  • janellehaskin

    janellehaskin said 7 years ago

    Its so hard to find nice gifts for men! Great job! :)

  • sweetjane

    sweetjane said 7 years ago

    Great collection...does bring back a sense of nastalgia and I notice a hole in my heart for my Dad, who passed away 18 years ago...well done Brett!

  • urbanheirlooms

    urbanheirlooms said 7 years ago

    I love your mission and story! This drums up fond memories of my own granddad. I never saw him eat an apple like a badass (!) but I do remember his acoustic guitar, swordfish taxidermy, and his pockets full of loose silver change. :)

  • beliz82

    beliz82 said 7 years ago

    Great story and great listings !!! Remind me my grandpa missed him soo much Every morning he wears his tie , shirt , pants and then shaves put on his perfume and appears in front of the grandmother like that !!!

  • colinduncan

    colinduncan said 7 years ago

    Well done, Man.

  • ZhongFuJewelryDesign

    ZhongFuJewelryDesign said 7 years ago

    I so want to get this mag for my brother!

  • KnitXcorE

    KnitXcorE said 7 years ago

    so good!

  • TheWishingWardrobe

    TheWishingWardrobe said 7 years ago

    mmmm... the smell of tobacco, a 100 year old barn and a wooden bench painted green...

  • VintageMarketPlace

    VintageMarketPlace said 7 years ago

    it is so great to feature mens stuff, it is so hard to find good vintage mens pieces. Yes the industrial look is super hot but finding other things that just scream manly rare.

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons said 7 years ago

    Wonderful! Brings back childhood memories of my own grandfather.

  • ekra

    ekra said 7 years ago

    Your grandpa sounds rad! I can almost smell the leather and whiskey.

  • senioritis

    senioritis said 7 years ago

    Great collection, that's one serious looking shaving kit. Excellent early rising tips over on AoM as well!

  • BlueRoseRetro

    BlueRoseRetro said 7 years ago

    Manly yes... but I like it too! (if you remember that from the old Irish Spring comercial then you are vintage, like me. lol)

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 7 years ago

    Cool stuff, I love the axe.

  • ionesAttic

    ionesAttic said 7 years ago

    here's a wonderful ode to grandpa treasury curated by bailybellecreations:

  • akcArt

    akcArt said 7 years ago

    WooHoo! Let's hear it for the boys! Brett, so impressed with the mission of your magazine! Finally, someone who recognizes really what is important! Keep up the great work, thanks for sharing!

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 7 years ago

    i love seeing men going back to the classic aesthetic. so handsome!

  • cadreams

    cadreams said 7 years ago

    Very Cool-makes me think of my Grandfather-and my Dad! Wonderful collection-already gathering ideas for holiday/birthday gifts! Thanks!

  • MJSGems

    MJSGems said 7 years ago

    Very nice! the knife and axe are super!

  • 1AEON

    1AEON said 7 years ago

    there are some beautiful neat items featured above. my fav. is the deer wallet.

  • Petitecharm

    Petitecharm said 7 years ago

    Love the old leather football

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 7 years ago

    I don't want fop dammit! I'm a dapper dan man : )

  • SundustStudio

    SundustStudio said 7 years ago

    Great gift ideas, Love Love..

  • patriciabarden

    patriciabarden said 7 years ago

    manliness is something ye do not see anymore--particularly inthe movies--and songs--jesus--never, ever

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    Great picks for guys!

  • KingsDownRoad

    KingsDownRoad said 7 years ago

    My parents have that shoe shine box. Love it!!

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 7 years ago

    My dad has that shoeshine box! Love your finds and your mission to bring back manliness!

  • AnnTig

    AnnTig said 7 years ago

    Poket knife looks nice! Great finds.

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 7 years ago

    This is so good! Pocket square in the back pocket is requisite. My better half eats apples like that, though without a bit of pretense. Love the tooled leather wallet & scrimshaw pocket knife.

  • LeapARTandVintage

    LeapARTandVintage said 7 years ago

    Reminds me of my DadDad too. Sweet Nostalgia! Great article, hooray for Manliness!

  • tomatored

    tomatored said 7 years ago

    Manly yes, but I like it too!

  • stoneblisstudio

    stoneblisstudio said 7 years ago

    very nice article! I have a manly man myself and he shaves with a horsehair shave brush and uses mustache wax! I plan on checking out your magazine.

  • Asianexpressions

    Asianexpressions said 7 years ago

    Nice choices!

  • kodashii88

    kodashii88 said 7 years ago

    That mans face stuff is sure to make me manly ; )

  • funkomavintage

    funkomavintage said 7 years ago

    being kind, handy, loving and well-groomed is so manly! great choices!

  • PaintedHorse

    PaintedHorse said 7 years ago

    Oh, what a great collection! Thanks for sharing...

  • SueJack

    SueJack said 7 years ago

    Love your Treasury! And it is high time that someone brought some appreciation and nostalgia to the world of men. I love to buy vintage vanity items for my husband. At first he thought it was crazy....then he saw the difference in the quality of an item made 60 years and the same type of item made today.....he was amazed....and totally sold. Now he anticipates what treasure I will uncover for him....and buying for him is fun! I'm from Drumright....small world, isn't it?? Sue

  • PonyAndPoppy

    PonyAndPoppy said 7 years ago

    wow. what beautiful items. wait. did i just say beautiful? ahem. MANLY. {but also beautiful...i stand by that} actually my dad is a very old-school fella and i see him in every one of your finds. thanks for sharing...i'm off to investigate further...

  • BlackStar

    BlackStar said 7 years ago

    Great finds! I love this series.

  • joclothing

    joclothing said 7 years ago

    Great collection! I love the hand-tooled leather billfold.

  • onegearclothing

    onegearclothing said 7 years ago

    Men, men, men, men..... manly men!

  • laidbackladies

    laidbackladies said 7 years ago

    This was so great. Love the concept and all the beautiful things. I'm not a man but even I would like to have some of the stuff you have listed. Good job.

  • HeyChica

    HeyChica said 7 years ago

    Great man stuff!

  • sparrowsalvage

    sparrowsalvage said 7 years ago

    This is one of the most fantastic posts I've ever seen! All these beautiful products, with a proper message- bring back manliness!! I've been deploring the lack of gentlemen, of proper MEN in our society for many years now, I am so chuffed to find the Art of Manliness magazine- I'm going to spend many hours reading all the articles and forcing my male acquaintances to follow suit. :D

  • JaneMichael

    JaneMichael said 7 years ago

    thumbs up.

  • ElizabethOHaraGlass

    ElizabethOHaraGlass said 7 years ago

    Good job on classic men's items. Don't forget to add all the stuff that contemporary men (not just grandpa's) enjoy, too. Just like women, men come in all shapes and sizes and like all kinds of things!

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 7 years ago

    Real stuff for real men. Yay for the scrimshaw pocket knife.

  • VintageVicky

    VintageVicky said 7 years ago

    I've always been interested in things like smoking jackets and portable bars men carried on train trips and shaving kits. Always wished I could find enough stuff to fill a niche. Might do that yet. I'm thinking of making a line of mens smoking jackets, robes and pajamas. All from vintage patterns of course. Wish me luck!!!

  • animadesign

    animadesign said 7 years ago

    Great article, full of memories!You can take a look at my manly APRONS too.

  • LeafandInk

    LeafandInk said 7 years ago

    Love this article! Great feature!

  • artangel

    artangel said 7 years ago

    Some great gift ideas!

  • thoughtfulgoose

    thoughtfulgoose said 7 years ago

    Excellent article. My boyfriend's birthday is coming up and he has a special love for all things Chicago Prohibition-era Gangster, so I'll be subscribing!

  • rolanddesigns

    rolanddesigns said 7 years ago

    Love it...too bad the gentlemen'shaving kit is already husband would have loved it...

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 7 years ago

    lol labeled "man" stuff, must be for "man"

  • BlindTigerFlasks

    BlindTigerFlasks said 7 years ago

    Awesome collaboration of gift ideas!! Cheers!!

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 7 years ago

    Realy manly ! love all!

  • JaniceCordeiro

    JaniceCordeiro said 7 years ago

    Etsy needs more "man stuff". Great picks.

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 7 years ago

    This stuff is great.

  • inthewineroom

    inthewineroom said 7 years ago

    good stuff!

  • MoonDanceTextiles

    MoonDanceTextiles said 7 years ago

    thank you for wanting to take a detour from 6-pak abs, hot babes, etc. towards more meaningful manly pursuits...I like all the guy stuff...they look like great gift items!

  • antiherostudio

    antiherostudio said 7 years ago

    Awesome picks. Remind me to reference this article again around Dad's birthday...

  • DalkullanJewelry

    DalkullanJewelry said 7 years ago

    Mr. McKay, it's great that you have a magazine devoted to "to help men become better husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, citizens, and just all around better men". I truly enjoyed reading this article, and seeing the manly items. My dear husband has an ax very similar to the one depicted, it was handmade in Sweden, and he uses it to split kindling. Wishing you every success with your wonderful magazine.

  • debdeanart

    debdeanart said 7 years ago

    Hi Brett..Enjoyed your piece....the items you chose areall "keepers" the men your mag is aimed at! And I was excited to see Linda Layden's pocket knife among your treasures...she's a talented, successful Maine artist who I have had the pleasure to meet. Much success to you! deb

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 7 years ago

    Great gift ideas for men!

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 7 years ago

    Yes. I love manly stuff and it's great to know you can get gifts for the man in your life on Etsy! :)

  • GemmaBeads

    GemmaBeads said 7 years ago

    I agree with tomatored's statement.

  • knitandcurl

    knitandcurl said 7 years ago

    I can almost smell the leather and feel the dry, dusty wind blowing across my face. Thanks for a great article and awesome items.

  • knitandcurl

    knitandcurl said 7 years ago

    I can almost smell the leather and feel the dry, dusty wind blowing across my face. So many manly goods on etsy. Who knew?

  • VintageTreasureAngel

    VintageTreasureAngel said 7 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading this. Reminds me SO much of my grandfather and father. Perhaps my DH would enjoy your magazine. I wish you every success with these ventures, and also thank you for trying to make the world a better place.

  • EverybodyElse

    EverybodyElse said 7 years ago

    Great post! I'm super psyched to buy some of these items for my brother.

  • CatherinetteRings

    CatherinetteRings said 7 years ago

    Cool Stuff !

  • RubySkeleton

    RubySkeleton said 7 years ago

    Scrimshaw Pocket Knife with Ship- I would love to carry that in my pocket!

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 7 years ago

    very cool!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 7 years ago

    sniff sniff - I smell testosterone Great stuff!

  • HannahJQuiltPatterns

    HannahJQuiltPatterns said 7 years ago

    I know my husband would love these. That wooden stein, in particular, should go on his list.

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose said 7 years ago

    what a great story and I'm passing the blog link along to several others.

  • MaMagasin

    MaMagasin said 7 years ago

    These are such lovely items! I can almost smell the leather!

  • CheersToJuly

    CheersToJuly said 7 years ago

    Wonderful finds - love the manliness :)

  • MansFaceStuff

    MansFaceStuff said 7 years ago

    Thanks for including Man's Face Stuff. Always good to see other manly goods available as well!

  • thevintagethread

    thevintagethread said 7 years ago

    I like it! I like it!

  • LemonBall

    LemonBall said 7 years ago

    Wouldn't ya know, there's lots of Manly Men's stuff on Etsy. Thanks Brett, I'm proud to be represented.

  • WarrioressRising

    WarrioressRising said 7 years ago

    That Whiskey shave cream does bring back memories. My grandfather used to send me, all of six years old, back into the house to get his "medicine" prescribed by doctor Jack Daniels. It was never in the same place twice, and I was to put it in a brown paper bag and make sure grandma didn't see. I never made it past my grandmother.

  • typewriterboneyard

    typewriterboneyard said 7 years ago

    Love it!.. every single piece is amazing, and I hope to have in my "cabin" when I'm a 'gramps'. Great post Brett

  • portlandgeneralstore

    portlandgeneralstore said 7 years ago

    I LOVE The Art of Manliness! Great picks, and thanks for including one of our goods!

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 7 years ago

    Love all these items! Can't show 'em to my husband, he'll want everything! What great manly items.

  • madelinerenee

    madelinerenee said 7 years ago

    When men were men and girls were glad they were. Excellent stuff!

  • lindalayden

    lindalayden said 7 years ago

    Great treasury, glad to be included among the wonderful items. Thank you for sending several customers my way.

  • doingitherself

    doingitherself said 7 years ago

    I love the motto "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

  • photosbyJanelle

    photosbyJanelle said 7 years ago

    I recently compiled a treasury, "Gifts for Guys" that has some of the same feel. Check it out, maybe if you dig these items you'll enjoy the treasury! I enjoyed your article, and will definitely check out your blog, it sounds interesting! -Janelle

  • JunebugGems

    JunebugGems said 7 years ago

    Great article and selections! What a clever motto - love it! :)

  • sistermountain

    sistermountain said 7 years ago

    Old School tools rocks my world, and my Mantown uses the mustache wax. Wooo!

  • WalterSilva

    WalterSilva said 7 years ago


  • QuercusSilver

    QuercusSilver said 7 years ago

    "swoon" for the manly men!

  • cmadisonhale

    cmadisonhale said 7 years ago

    Great article. Look forward to future posts.

  • cassedywooddesigns

    cassedywooddesigns said 7 years ago

    Very nice Job,nice to see more things for us Men.I have a carving for that Cabin.Heck wish I had a Cabin. Ya OK Wish for the Lotto .Good Job Folks

  • michaelvanstudio

    michaelvanstudio said 7 years ago

    great stuff

  • londicreations

    londicreations said 7 years ago

    Does bring back great memories!! Thank you for this!

  • ribbonsundone

    ribbonsundone said 7 years ago

    What a refreshing post--a very enjoyable read, which I will be certain to share with others.

  • BackyardBrand

    BackyardBrand said 7 years ago

    Ay! Brings a hornpipe to mind... Best Regards, The Backyard Harmonica Teacher

  • wallpusher

    wallpusher said 7 years ago

    Love it! Thanks for this post!

  • ArkansasLeather

    ArkansasLeather said 6 years ago

    Thanks a million for spotlighting my work.

  • rusticrevivals

    rusticrevivals said 6 years ago

    Isn't that Hemingway in the flask photo? At first I thought it WAS your Grandfather! :)

  • casanovax2

    casanovax2 said 6 years ago

    A very sharp article by Brett McKay,and a great selection of items and wares by fellow Etsian's, artists and craft persons! And yes, the world doesn't have enough of "better" husbands, fathers, role models...MEN! Very well done!!

  • ArtSnark

    ArtSnark said 6 years ago

    Fun finds! Loved this selection

  • Ebrown2503

    Ebrown2503 said 6 years ago

    A refreshingly different post. I enjoyed the article and looking at all the items.

  • marysworkshop

    marysworkshop said 6 years ago

    These are all wonderful nostalgic finds! Great feature!

  • erindollar

    erindollar said 6 years ago

    love these manly finds! always good to see Man's Face Stuff, too, their moustache wax smells so gooooooood.

  • RusticLeatherCo

    RusticLeatherCo said 6 years ago

    Ahhh, all great manly items! When you need to take your manly items with you, put them in a vintage Rustic Leather Briefcase or Satchel! All handmade with thick boot leather and a LIFETIME guarantee.

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