Thomas Joseph, a hardcore hobbyist, has spent the past 50 years indulging in various hobbies that include philately, numismatics and collecting golf kits and artworks. But his most prized assortment is his neck ties. What began as a necessity has now turned into an astonishing collection of neck pieces.
With a staggering collection of over 500 ties, he says, “I used to have 500 to 600 ties but I gave away about 200 of them to interested people. Now I’m left with around 300 of them.” His extensive travels further fuelled this unique interest. “I have been to about 30 to 40 countries, and I made it a point to buy ties everywhere I went,” he adds. Although he has stopped collecting them for now, he finds it hard to let go of them.
But how did this interesting hobby begin? “In 1969, I got a sales and marketing job and this was the first time I was asked to wear a tie. Then, in 1970, I moved to a British company that made it compulsory for us to wear neck ties. They would give us ties for various occasions, such as their 50th anniversary, so that’s where my collection and interest began,” he says. Soon, all his birthdays and special occasions included ties that were gifts from family and friends.
Everyone who knows him thinks he is crazy for investing in such a large collection but he just laughs it off. He has been to most of Europe, Japan, China and more, where he picked up ties worth thousands. “If I saw ties in the hotel shops or anywhere, I would pick them up. The only thing I shopped for when I travelled was ties.
In 1978, he moved to Dubai, where his employers again demanded for neck ties to be worn on a daily basis. It was here that he picked up his ‘Save the Children’ tie. Although he received many ties as gifts, he says that 90 per cent of them are self-bought.
As his children aren’t interested in the ties, he bequeaths them to whomever shows the right degree of interest. “I’m not sure what I want to do with them now that I’ve retired. I stopped buying them two years ago as they won’t be put to use; after all, I have 300 others to choose from!”
He makes it clear that he buys them only if they have utility. “I have used 90 per cent of the ties I have. The other 10 per cent haven’t been used because they didn’t match with any outfit or there wasn’t an occasion to wear them.” This hobby developed as there was a need for him to sport different kinds of ties.
These days, he says, people aren’t that particular about wearing ties. “The fashion has changed now. People wear expensive suits, jackets and shirts, but don’t use neck ties. They prefer a more casual look.”
Some of his favourite ties are the ones that come attached with special memories. The ‘Save the Children’ tie is one among them. And not all the ties he has can be worn on a daily basis. He has a red leather tie, a knitted one and wool one, along with silk, cotton and synthetic ones. “I had two more leather ties, coloured brown and beige, but I gave them away to someone who wanted them,” he says.
What is the best way to sport a tie? “If it’s a bright coloured shirt, a light coloured tie is needed, and vice-versa. And if the shirt has designs on it, a plain tie must be worn (and vice-versa). The shape, size and colour of the tie depends on the occasion and clothing. My favourite shade, however, is beet red or burgundy.”