I’ve always loved the official tri-color tie of the Baker Street Irregulars. And I knew that its origins went back to BSI founder Christopher Morley. But I learned the details only recently. Jon Lellenberg tells the story in Irregular Crises of the Late ’Forties, volume 5 of his BSI History Project.
In a letter to his friend Helen Hare on December 15, 1949, Morley wrote:
I want to sell the BSI boys the idea of adopting colors for the club; to be sewn in either a rosette for the lapel, or even in a necktie. The colors, of course, to be Purple, Blue, and Mouse these being the three shades through which Sherlock’s dressing gown passed in its fadings. A fine rich purple; a pleasing “electric blue” (like the dress Violet Hunter had to wear in Copper Beeches!); and then a furry, soft, comfortable mouselike gray. Have you got a mouse at 7 Jackson Street to test the gray? That’s the trouble with new houses; no mice.
I thought maybe, if not imposing yr gallant patience, you wd stitch together a small rosette in these colors for me to wear at the Dinner -- or even a necktie! The colors must be in that order of juxtaposition: purple, blue, gray. Don’t you think it wd be handsome? And say, what an idea for merchandising: the Sherlock Holmes Dressing Gown, in those three colors. Wyn’t you design it, & bet we cd sell it to some imaginative mfr. (pp. 384-385)
(Morley wrote briskly and with frequent abbreviations in casual correspondence.)
The woman who Morley soft-soaped earlier in the letter as “the most expert & subtle seamstress known” delivered the first BSI tie in time for Morley to wear it at the January 6, 1950 BSI dinner. He presumably wore it many times thereafter, including a June 1951 trip to England (photo, p. 417, Irregular Crises).
My purple, blue, and mouse tie is, of course, the bowtie version. It formerly belonged to my friend and supporter Monica Schmidt, who gave it to me as a present. It will look great with a tuxedo!