By Andrew S. Rogerson 5 August 2012 -
Produced in 1968 and introduced (though not written) by British costume historian James Laver, this is a remarkably thorough look at the title topic. As the first paragraph of the preface says, "As far as we can trace, this is the first book to be published that illustrates a large number of the best-known ties of Britain, as well as some from Commonwealth countries. We believe it will be extremely useful both to those whose work involves ties and to all those who are interested in them."
How useful it is will be evident to anyone familiar with South Carolina menswear retailer Ben Silver, who produces ties based on many of the same old boys, university, etc. designs catalogued in this book. The descriptions in their catalog and on their website seem to draw extensively from the information in this book. I say that not as a criticism, but just to point out that this is indeed a reference still in use today.
Which isn't to say it's perfect. Great as the full-color plates are, reproducing 21 or more ties on a page desn't allow for much detail, particularly on crested ties. And one area where the descriptions are incomplete (and where Ben Silver's descriptions in fact add value) is in listing the colors on each tie (while the plates do show color, it would be nice if they were named). This book is supplemented, but not made obsolete, by the later volume Ties of Distinction (Schiffer Book for Designers & Collectors). Get the other too if this is something you're interested in. But if a chance does arise to grab a copy of this at a non-extortionate price, do so.