Cardinal Neckwear

This article was written and shared with us by Karl Harry Rosenberg. He is a vietnam veteran in his 70s. He worked and serviced the F105 Thunderchief. While he was stationed at Khorat RTAFB, a group from the National Geographic Magazine was also over doing a major writing on the Air Force. It was featured in the Sept issue of 1965 and showed the F105 Thunderchiefs on the cover. Gen Curtiss LeMay was the Air Force Commander of all the air force . It was an experience.

These were the old Cardinal neckties when Mr. Rosenberg had his factory in Allentown on Arch Street. The workers made those ties to the specification and material picked out by Mr Rosenberg. He had the stamp in the tongue of the early ties in 24k gold leaf heated for the impression.

 

Cardinal ties could only be bought through our stores or through the mail order. The stores were elegant and true " man caves"! Dark stained green panelling and brass lions were hung to put the ties through. Women salesclerks were employed as they had better judgement in color coordination than men. There were men guards att the signature stores. My brothers worked at some of the stores, but i started in the 557 5th ave store in 1944 wrapping ties for customers until a government agent said i couldnt work in the store- I was 5 years old and it was my Dads company!

 

 

 

You see the Cardinal tie was not like other brands of neckwear which many were featured in mens haberdashety or clothing stores. Cardinal sold its ties exclusively through its very well appointed stores in Boston, New York, Miami, Atlantic City and Chicago. I've been to all except the Chicago one. The stores had deliveries made by the Cardinal truck which had its logo on the side. I've seen it a couple of times. Our signature stores in New York were beautiful and the 4 largest were really showpieces. The 560 store had chandeliers that were one story high and there were 3 of them. It took a huge ladder to clean and change the bulbs. The 557 store was a showpiece as its window was concave and gave the effect of no glass in the window. The 11 west 42nd street store was a massive store in size and the 45th and broadway store on the corner was in some movies at times- one being about Ray Charles. Theres a 3- 4 second shot of the store in that movie.

 

These stores had literally hundreds of neckties and all kinds of accessories that went with ties. Besides the variety of materials of ties, we also had clip ons, bolos, Kentucky colonels, ascots, bow ties that one ties oneself and of course the collar pins, collar stays and tie bars, tie tacs and key chains. Pricewise most tie tacs were 69 cents as were the tie bars. The collar pins were 29 cents, the key chains were 39 cents and bow tie clip-ons were 3 for $1.00. The tie yourself bow ties were 75 cents and the bolo ties and kentucky colonels were 50 cents each. Handerchiefs 4-in-a-box linen were $1.00. Belts were $1.00 and were leather. The umbrellas were $2.50 each and could be pulled back to normal if blown inside out. Our ascots were $2.50 and some nice imported english challise were $2.50. But they were $20.00 ties which were quickly bought up!


The most unusual thing was the tie pedestal that Dad had made. A great many were made to display the different ties. The tie pedestals were designed to be raised and lowered as well as tilted in whatever direction it was needed. They resembled velvet bar stools but thats where the similarity ended. They were light weight wooden cross based with adjustable metal shaft and hinged to tilt at a angle. They were green ribbed velvet covered and the floor of each window had green velvet material. Green small fish type bowls and red bowls were used also to display the ties. Each window had about 15-20 pedestals each displaying about 12- 15 ties! They had to be specially pinned and the display tilted just so. It gave a rainbow effect. Every other day the whole window was changed and cleaned for new stock to display. We're talking a few hundred ties alone to display besides the accessories. The managers had to do this at the smaller stores. The larger ones had employed window trimmers.

The signs on the glass of our stores alone were beautiful. Aside from the 45th and broadway bulb sign (not neon!), all our stores had a reverse glass paint with our logo on the window that was done in 24karat leaf! The main stores at the base of the entrance had a heavy brass raised plaque with our store addresses in it. Very high relief brass plaque. One store had Tiffany brass table lamps on the circular tables and the sides of many stores interiors had stained green panelling with brass lions heads with rings in their mouths for hanging ties. We had hundreds of these brass lions heads! Everything was done with very good taste. No smoking and no eating or drinking or talking on the floor except to help the customer. Being the oldest, I saw a great many places Dad purchased his bolts of material. He bought thousands of yards of bolt goods and spent hours checking to see how to cut that material!

​You are wondering how Dad picked out the store locations and the store set up? He had a tailors measure a yardstick and a customer clicker! He would see how many people walked at a certain time. All his stores he himself chose. No high school education either. He only went as far as the 3rd grade and had to help support his family by selling papers and doing odd jobs. His daddy died when he was 3. Over the many years he did various jobs. In 1940 or so he worked with Mr Cades. He suggested that they open a store in New York. Mr Cades said no, as he almost lost everything in the Depression and was happy with his two stores. Dad went to New York and his first store was a failure in upper fifth avenue. He had not yet made his ties standard with the logos. I have not seen these ties.

The ties were starting to be made when he met Mother in Philadelphia. She was very artistic and color conscious. Mom helped Dad in his venture by looking at merchandise and material. In those days, most fabrics were mainly for dresses or furnishings so there were loud ties back then. To offset that problem, Dad had made plain material ties and had artists paint them. Many were pretty. Also he tried to marbelize the material. He had to buy old silk parachutes from the Army, as silk was impossible to get from Japan. He made a formula that took the indelible dye from the silk that the Army stamped on that silk! The imprint though was still on the silk. Dad had dyed and printed patterns to disguise that fact. If one holds that tie a certain way one can make out part of the military stamping! The ties were cut and stitched so it would be hard to see!

At 77 years of age there are a great many things I forgot about Cardinal neckwear but it was a great experience to learn. Dad had me punch a card and I took orders from the various managers and did what they said. Just because I was the boss's son did not give me any privileges. I swept up and emptied ashtrays and went for lunches for the workers. I was a gopher and I got minimum wage of $1.25 per hour. Was docked if I was late and did what I was told. I had an English governess who taught me the proper way to address the teachers. I was taught manners and when to go to bed and all civility codes the english way.

Cardinal Neckwear was a specialty mens shop for its time. It served many customers with high quality ties at an affordable price. Many ties were available but not with quality and price. The stores closed in 1966.

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