Monday, June 24, 2019

My Ties to Tie Clips

When I was in college, I played the contrabass clarinet in the concert band. The contrabass is a huge clarinet, pitched two octaves below the standard clarinet in Bb. It is over six feet tall and must be played standing up. This configuration posed an unusual problem.

Single-reed player Jay Easton playing the Bb contrabass clarinet, showing the size of the instrument. His website additionally features many unusual clarinets and saxophones. Click here to listen to him playing the instrument (Mr. Easton plays in a modern style; I also enjoyed playing more traditional melodies).

I had to wear a necktie for many concerts, with the result that the tie would swing forward and interfere with the keywork on the instrument. When I explained this to my musician grandfather, he replied that he had a present for me.

Clarinet octave key tie clip.
It turned out to be a tie clip made from the octave key of a clarinet. This solved the problem in a most perfect and suitable way. You can imagine how happy I was to locate the clip recently in a box of small items I had in storage.

The tie clip compared to the octave key of a standard soprano Bb clarinet.

I treasure this tie clip because it has memories both of playing in the band and of my grandfather, who after a career as a professional tuba player, settled down in Canton, Ohio and had his own music store.

A pencil from my grandfather's music store.

At the same time he gave me the clarinet tie clip, he also gave me this set of tie clip and cuff links, shaped like grand pianos.

That box contained a number of other novelty tie clips, mostly gathered as fun collectibles that reflected other interests. I never wore any except the clarinet key, and that one not since college. Here are a few favorites:

For a while I had a metal detector, and while they do work, the learning curve is considerable. Any detectorist will confirm that what you mostly find are those old pull tabs from beverage cans. So I really enjoyed the humor of this tie clip, which is not made from a real pull tab, but is a specially made solid piece of jewelry.

I love hand tools and anything to do with them, including these vintage tie clips.

This thermometer tie clip really works, and the scale is printed horizontally so that it can be easily read when worn.

From the handcuff theme, this is obviously a policeman's tie clip. It came with a money clip marked for the Cleveland Police. It probably wouldn't hurt to wear this one while driving.

Everyone from Cleveland knows the Cleveland-Cliffs company, long a giant in the mining and shipping of ore. This tie clip shows the ship Edward B. Greene, named for the president of the company in the 1930's.

You may recall my post on the wooden Budai statue. Here he is in triplicate, as a tie clip and cuff link set. (Although made of ivory, this set certainly pre-dates any ban on that substance.)

The Budai are all carved very well. Even on the underside which does not show, the feet and toes are clearly defined.

When I started collecting items, I trained myself to recognize real amber, tortoiseshell, etc. That skill came in handy when rescuing this amber tie tack from the twenty-five cent box.

Perhaps my most amazing tie clip was a present from my sister. (We have an ongoing contest to see who can find the best presents for each other. I can assure you that the competition is fierce.) When we were growing up, we used a silverware pattern called Flair, made by Rogers Brothers and originally produced in the 1950's. We loved this set which embodied many happy memories for us. 

In recent years we have even augmented our holdings of Flair, adding serving pieces, baby sets, and the like. Imagine my surprise when my sister came up with this Flair tie clip, which must have been made in the '50's for the use of salesmen selling Rogers silver. I cannot imagine there are many of these around.

The Rogers Brothers Flair pattern tie clip. Like the pull tab, this was specially made as jewelry, not cut down from some utensil.

The tie clip next to a Flair demitasse spoon for comparison.

The clarinet key tie clip was a real life saver, while the others were collected out of a sense of fun, each representing an interest in my life. Let me know if you have a favorite among these, or if you have a favorite piece of jewelry with a story behind it.

All photographs and original objects property of the author.