My late maternal grandfather  had a large and treasured collection of tieclips that he built up over the course of his lifetime. It was our family’s tradition, whenever we saw a tieclip on our travels, especially if we knew it was not already in his collection, to buy it as a Feast gift or for some other useful occasion. Yesterday, as part birthday present and part long-delayed disposition of my grandfather’s property, I received my share of my grandfather’s tieclips to start my own collection. As someone who wears ties fairly often, mostly to church, or to the occasional memorial service or funeral, this collection of 24 tieclips has a great deal of meaning, especially as a reminder of the person from whom they came. As a sign of appreciation, and as a way of discussing some of the possible symbolism of these pieces, I would like to describe these 24 tieclips and briefly discuss what they might have meant to my grandfather, and at least what they mean to me. Here goes:
Black iris and silver eyeball on silver bar clip – I don’t know what meaning this tieclip had for my grampa, but I do know what it means for me. “I’ve got my eye on you.” This could be good at church.
Silver coupe race car on silver bar clip – My grandfather had been a race car driver in his youth, presumably with moonshine running involved, and no doubt he looked back on those times fondly. Those who know how I drive will understand how in that case at least, I am not too different in my own driving habits.
Ambassador College – Big Sandy seal on gold bar clip – As a longtime member of the Worldwide Church of God, my grandfather was no doubt very proud of our church’s educational institutions. I myself once stayed in booth city on the Big Sandy campus in the late 80’s during a trip to Texas during the Spring Holy Days, and once scared off a lot of fish in Lake Loma on that same trip, so the clip will bring my own personal memories.
Oval garnet (?) on gold hairpin clip – This is a striking clip with a deep red stone on an unusual clip. My grandfather was a somewhat eccentric person himself in his own ways, and it’s a unconventional clip that I will treasure as well.
White slide rule clip – I don’t know what connection my grandfather had to the design arts, but as an EIT certified civil engineer myself, who owns my own slide rule , I know that this tieclip will be a reminder of my own education and former work experience in engineering and building design.
Diamond-shaped shooting star over silver coast guard stripes on gold bar clip – My grandfather spent many years in the Coast Guard, and like me he was fond of staring into the clouds and looking up at the starry night sky. This is a clip that does not reveal its design until you rotate it 90 degrees counterclockwise from its horizontal placement. Sometimes you have to work to see what an artist is getting at.
Gold University of South Florida seal on gold bar clip – Although my grandfather did not go to the local public university, I received my first master’s degree, in Engineering Management, from this university. I think that my grandfather purchased this tieclip at my graduation ceremony, and given that I am an alumnus from here, it will bring me reminders of my own education, which is something I like to remember.
Gold bar clip with “Big Wheel” in black all caps lettering – My grandfather liked vehicles and driving, and driving somewhat quickly, well into his old age, and so this clip definitely fits in with his interests.
Gold screw on gold bar clip – My grandfather was a handyman who liked building and constructing, and this is a great example of his interest in the practical arts of construction. I have the same interest, at least intellectually, if not the same facility with my hands.
Silver race car on lined gold bar clip – This is yet another tie clip that references the shared love my grandfather and I have for fast cars.
Gold shark clip – As a longtime coast guardsman, my grandfather had a healthy respect for the predatory animals of the sea, and this clip is clearly an ominous looking shark, with an elongated tail. This is clearly a tie clip that would be useful for shark week.
White Route 66 sign on gold bar clip – During my grandfather’s youth, he and his family moved back and forth at least partly along Route 66 between Florida and the West Coast and some points in-between, and this tie clip not only references a song (as my grandfather was fond of pop music history) but also refers to his own nomadic youth. It is something that I can identify with as well, the sign of a nomad who plainly seeks a settled home.
Singer logo on silver bar clip – For several decades, my grandfather worked as a Singer sewing machine repairman, and he was obviously proud of the work he did, and the skill he had in his craft. I, for one, cannot think of sewing machines or the Singer sewing machine company itself without thinking of my grandfather and his strong mechanical aptitude, which I did not inherit, alas.
Gold Coast Guard seal on gold bar clip – As I mentioned earlier, my grandfather spent about two decades in the Coast Guard before his conversion experience, and even if his exit from the Coast Guard was an unpleasant experience, he clearly took pride in his time spent there.
Silver space shuttle on lined gold bar clip – As a longtime resident of Central Florida with a fondness for space exploration, it makes sense that my grandfather wanted to demonstrate his interest in space yet again. He probably got this tie on one of our visits to Kennedy Space Center, which was an enjoyable place to visit in my youth, given my own interest in space.
Gold and silver long-barreled shotgun – My grandfather had a taste for guns, and one can never go wrong with a classy shotgun design. This is the perfect tie to wear when meeting a daughter’s prospective boyfriend. This is definitely one to treasure for its potential future purposes.
Gold Scottish rite masonic seal on gold bar clip – During his young adulthood, my grandfather (like his father-in-law) was a part of the Freemasons. Almost certainly, this is a relic from that experience.
Silver and gold chainsaw clip – My grandfather was fond of firewood for his homemade steak pit and wood fireplace, and so it was natural that he should celebrate the tool that allowed him to get the wood he enjoyed so much.
Black oblong face on silver bar clip – According to my mother, my grandfather probably obtained this tieclip during the Feast of Tabernacles in Mexico City. It almost has a Yoruba (West Africa, specifically western Nigeria/Benin) flavor to the face, and it looks like one of the odd and expressive faces my grandfather was well-known for among his circle of friends and acquaintances.
Brown and yellow wood fish clip – Although this clip is in such odd colors that I do not think it matches with any of my ties or suits, it is a cute looking fish.
Silver and brown Singer sewing machine on silver bar clip – As mentioned earlier, my grandfather was a proud and expert sewing machine repairman. This tieclip, with its elegant and detailed design, clearly reminds me of him, and also of my grandmother, who was a longtime skilled sewer herself.
Silver image of two men in top hats tapping wine glasses on black background on silver bar clip – My grandfather was quite an oenophile (i.e. wine snob), and his search for good Florida wine led to at least one memorable road trip shortly after my twenty-first birthday where some people confused my thirteen year old cousin for my girlfriend. Ah, family memories.
Gold piping drawing on black background on gold bar clip – I am not sure of the specific meaning of this particular tie clip, but given the fact that my grandfather was a bit of a handyman, clearly this tie with its orderly and complex patterns was something of interest to him on at least an aesthetic level. I wonder if it held any deeper meaning for him.
Silver trumpet clip – This is a self-explanatory tieclip, at least, one that will no doubt be a frequent go-to tie for the Day of Trumpets, or any other time I want to emphasize the noisy trumpet.
These ties, only a small sample of the total collection my grandfather owned over the course of his life, demonstrate the way in which my grandfather used his tie clips to connect with important memories and experiences as well as his hobbies and interests. Whether I share his interests or not, the vast majority of the ties hold symbolic meaning for me as well, because they remind me of him. And I hope they are able to remind me of him, and to also express my own history and personality, for a long time to come.