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Ties are bonds
o what is the classic Christmas gift? If you are a chap perhaps you are anticipating a tie. You know the type, that special Christmas tie, bought presumably to see if you have the neck to wear it.
One of the cohesive forces of the ' old boys network' is the old school tie, that bit of fabric around the neck, a signal to those that know and a barrier to those that don't.
I always associate school ties with Victorian gentlemen clubs. No doubt Freud would have something to say on the subject. If he did not it would be something of a first. It could be because the Victorian era sort order and codification in everything.
9 times out of 10 the set would have been as interesting as paint drying.
For some reason Churchmans felt that this was a suitable subject for a set of cigarette cards. The first series was issued in 1934, as a series of 50 normal size cards and also as a 12 card series of large cards. Although the concept of the set might not have seemed all that clever during the depression era Churchmans issued a second series the following year, again a series of 50 and a series of 12 large. This type of issuing was not unusual for Churchmans.
Exactly how well-known these ties were to the general public is a matter of conjecture, but instead of creating a set of cards as welcome as a pair of socks at Christmas they actually produced a very interesting set of cards indeed. I am only guessing but nine times out of ten the set would have been as interesting as paint drying.
The tie slices across the card a flash of color standing out from the sepia photograph background. Any other combination just would not feel right.
Malvern is one of the junior great Public Schools established in the Victorian era. It was founded in 1862, the College being opened three years later. It's Royal Charter of Incorporation was granted in 1929, while a Patent of Armorial Bearings was obtained in 1926. As will be seen from the illustration, which shows a general view of the College from the playing fields, the buildings are very handsome. Although Rugby Football is played in the Lent term, Malvern still remains faithful to the Association game. The Football Eleven wear green and white shirts, The Cricket colour is dark blue.
I have an admiration for Churchmans as they always did things a little differently, not for them the endless series of football cards, although they gave us a few. It was the type of firm which was more likely to issue a set of cards with the words, 'curious' or ' interesting' in the title.
As you would expect public school ties are much in evidence and the text of the cards can only be considered illuminating.
Public school in a nutshell, Malvern, not quite as good as the established schools, but it does have a playing field, where they play a pretty decent game. Indeed Public school and sport have long and illustrious association, long may that continue.
Perhaps the greatest public school-boy sporting hybrid is the Oxford or Cambridge " Blue ". Cambridge and Oxford have a great tradition in competing against one another. The first boat race taking place in 1829. As you would hope the rules governing which tie you can wear is pretty complex. Rowing, Cricket, Rugby, Association Football, Athletics, Hockey and Tennis all get full " Blue " status. The half-blue is reserved for unnamed things.
This is the basic format for all the Public school tie cards.
Of course the old school tie is not the only tie, there are all those regimental ties and there is a good selection of these to choose from. Indeed, the set starts of with the Royal Navy. Just to prove nothing is easy, there are in fact three different patterns. The best known being navy blue with narrow red and white stripes. The card tells us that straight stripes are used for the Royal Navy. They are interlaced in diamond formation for the Royal Naval Reserve. Finally, for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve they are wavy. I will not bore you with the details of the other two types of tie.
Card 13 is another regimental tie, this time Rangers. This regiment has the distinction of being the first to use machines guns on the allied side during the Great War. For me though the card is distinctive for being in vertical format when the others are in horizontal.
The link between the playing fields of Eton and Flanders fields is also well documented.
I have already mentioned the public school / sport link so no surprise for guessing that various sports clubs should have a tie. Perhaps it is time to mention not all ties are created equal. I have an old school tie and although it is considered very humorous for a public school type to use is old school tie to keep up his trousers as a symbol of something, at least the tie has some purpose unlike my school tie.
Card 45 touches on the subject of tie envy. There are some impostors out there with ties about their necks they are not entitled to. Apparently the tie of the Irish Rugby Football International is so distinctive that only those entitled to wear it would do so. The card explains the picture on the front of the card is of the Irish International ground, where an Ireland versus England game is in progress. They say the devil is in the detail.
Card 48 of the first series has the famous tie of the Corinthian Association Football Club, quite possibly the greatest amateur football club in England. For many years they dominated the game. In the 1903/4 season they beat Bury, the F.A cup holders 10 goals to 3. In 1933 they finally accepted they were no-longer able to compete against professional and pulled out of the F.A cup competition.
Rugby, football so you know I am going to mention cricket, least you do if you have spent some time reading this site. Apparently there are some people who find the game tedious and confusing, so just for you the text of card 43.
This famous club of cricket wanders owes its origin largely to the family of the lt Rev. W.K.R Bedford, Rector of Sutton Coldfield and to those of several others among them Armitstead and Garnett. The name was chosen for two reasons. All the original team came from the Forest of Arden in Warwickshire or Needwood in Staffordshire. While one of the rules of I Zinagri is that no member may play against I Zingari, the Foresters are " Free " united in aim, but untied by rule, hence their motto, " United though Untied. " The colors of red, green and white were adopted in 1858. The first match was played on July 20th, 1856, on the Sutton Rectory ground.
If anyone actually has a clue as to what the card is going on about drop me a line.
One final note, the artist for this series was a V.W Holsman. The same person that did Players, Army Corps & Dvisional Signs,  &  Players, Regimental Standards and Cap Badges  and again for Players, War Medals and Decorations.
The final set for Players has an illustration date of August 1929. Which means it is not the Players, War Decorations and Medals  so is probably the unissued set, Medals and Decorations.
The same artist did Players, National Flags and Arms .