Today is the birthday of one of history’s most avid bow tie-wearers, Abraham Lincoln, so we’re celebrating with a selection of bow ties from the Charleston Museum’s collection.

Some form of the bow tie has been around for hundreds of years – from Croatian silk kerchiefs and elaborate cravats to abbreviated clip-ons.

A mid 19th century stock would have a stiff band around the neck and a bow in front. Two of our examples here are this type of stock, possibly the kind worn by Abraham Lincoln.  Ours were worn by Benjamin M. Strobel (1818-1894) of Charleston. The two earlier stocks are softer and wider, popular in the 1830s and 1840s. The black silk one was worn by Dr. William Sims Reynolds (1812-1888) of Barnwell County, SC and the white satin one buckles at the back of the neck.

Most of our bow ties – tied and not – date from the late 19th and early 20th century.  The elegant black silk tie with white piping on the edges, bears a label and seal identifying it as an “Original Rotsiegel Krawatte.”  Rotsiegel’s or the Red Seal Tie Factory was a famous Berlin manufacturer of ties – one of the most exclusive brands to be had in Germany. The black silk and rayon bow tie is a “Beau Brummell” tie, “adjustable to your size.” This company was established in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1920 and was widely popular in the 1940s, which is when our tie was probably made. The company was named for the Regency era fashion setter, George Bryan Brummell, the father of dandyism and pioneer of the lavish cravat.

Our wonderful array of pastel cotton bow ties date from the early 20th century. Wouldn’t they be perfect with a straw boater on a summer afternoon? The purple striped tie with complete collar bears the stamp: “The Corsair. / Patent Feb. 18, 1900.” It has a buttonhole to attach to the shirt and a slit at the left side to allow the tie to wrap around the neck, making it adjustable.

Even after the appearance of the four-in-hand in the 1860s which gradually replaced the bow tie, the bow tie has remained popular for full dress occasions and for making a very definite fashion statement.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday