In this edition of Dad Gifts Through The Ages, we explore the Tie Rack, a quintessential gift children once gave dads to show that they cared enough to buy something, but not enough to put any thought into it.
The Tie Rack
It is a little-known fact that Cornelius Vanderbilt, the American business magnate who raised a fortune through the American railroad system during the mid-19th century, was the originator of the Tie Rack as we know it today.
For eons before Cornelius, no matter how much he loved his tie, a dad would be required to throw it away after one use as no viable means of storage was available. But Corny V. had a different idea, which is thankfully well documented in his correspondence to then-President Abraham Lincoln.
In a letter, dated April 4, 1863, he wrote to Abe, “What if, instead of making a father discard of his ties after once-using, we provide to him something from which to hang it, no doubt in perpetuity? What if, I forswear it, he can return upon that tie the day after, then the day after necks?*” (A father himself, Cornelius was not above the occasional Dad Joke, even when writing to the President of the United States.)
In a letter dated August 18, 1863, President Lincoln responded, “Cool.”
Putting an end to decades of research and even more decades of development, the Tie Rack was put on the shelf in the year 1942, far after Corn-Corn V-bill was able to see his dream realized. His statue, displayed prominently at Vanderbilt University, still bears the philanthropist holding several neckties up by his fingers in an attempt to determine the optimum design for his masterwork.
It wouldn’t be another five years before the Tie Rack found its way into the American home. The war effort had led the United States government to suspend all necktie accessory development in the Double Windsor Bill of 1943. In fact, if it not for a shopkeep named Harlon Yancy Ainsworth III, the Tie Rack as we know it might never have seen the light of day.
Working late one night at Macy’s Department Store in the Christmas season of 1947, Ainsworth stumbled upon the final draft of a prototype of C-Orny VeeVee’s Tie Rack. He went home that night, and in his father’s own basement, cobbled together a rudimentary Tie Rack in the spirit of the discovered schematic. That Christmas he bestowed to his father, Harlon Yancy Ainsworth II, a device he dubbed the Fantasmo Crank-Powered Necktie Display and Movable Carousel.
Harlon Yancy Ainsworth II marveled at his son’s genius and bragged endlessly to other fathers down at the local Five-and-Dime. The rest is history.
In the year 1968, a burgeoning store we know today as Circuit City added a motor to a circular tie rack. It became an overnight sensation. The motorized device was, no doubt, responsible for the brick-and-mortar’s success in the early years. But as its flagship gift waned in popularity, so did the store. Nary a Circuit City can be found today.
With the advent and growth of the Internet, the Tie Rack soon fell out of favor, as dads the world over began storing their ties digitally. Hardly found anywhere beyond the Digi-Scape these days, Tie Racks have lost their favor among lazy sons and daughters for Gift Cards to Lowes and Home Depot.
Today, we salute you, Tie Rack.
Because nothing quite says “I love you” like practical closet storage solutions.