What is meant by the hand of a tie? What was a Macaroni? What are Macclesfield and Madder? From when does paisley date? What are the 5 ways to check the quality of a tie? What weights of silk should be used in tie making? What differentiates handmade ties from machine made?
I love knowing things. To paraphrase Shakespeare, I am a notorious snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. And the topics above are just a few of the things covered in ‘The Little Book of Ties’.
To be blunt, this book is not a page turner or ripping bedtime yarn. However, it’s useful and easy going enough that you don’t have to be Rain Man to work your way through it, or appreciate it.
It’s a solid little technical manual, which tells you all you need to know, with concise but thorough chapters and useful subject headings. Packed with only the necessary it starts with the history of neckwear and explains the various incarnations along the road to the modern day. It explains patterns, motifs and their social and historical significance. You also get technical details from the construction of a quality tie to the various processes for weaving or printing patterns, as well as suitable materials for the differing seasons. There are style tips, a few tie knots, and it considers the all important question of, how many ties should a man own?
Of course it’s far from the definitive work on the subject, and there are weightier tomes out there. But at just over 100 pages it isn’t taxing and most topics are dealt with in a few economical paragraphs. Additionally, for such an unprepossessing little tome, there are plenty of beautiful photographs in excellent detail.
In all, an extremely useful little book, and one worth having in your back pocket.
‘The Little Book of Ties’, by Francois Chaille, Flammarion 2001, Paperback £6.95 (Foyle’s)