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Tootal - The Company History and its products (ties, scarves etc)

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Two Types, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    As a fan of the ties and scarves made by the British firm Tootal, I thought I would try to bring together some background information on their products. I found this breakdown of the company history:

    Tootal Broadhurst Lee Co

    of Radcliffe, Lancs, (now Greater Manchester)

    of Manchester and Bolton, cotton manufacturers, later textile spinners and manufacturers.

    of 56 Oxford Street, Manchester. Telephone: Manchester, Central 3244. Cables: "Tootal, Manchester". London Address: 21 Cavendish Place, Cavendish Square, London, W1. (1947)

    1888-1972 (37 boxes)
    • 1799 The company was founded in Manchester, by Robert Gardner, a textile merchant.
    • 1842 Tootal family involvement began.
    • 1860s Sunnyside Mills, Bolton and Newton Heath Mills, Manchester, were acquired.
    • 1888 After several name changes, the firm became Tootal Broadhurst Lee Co Ltd. The company was registered on 17 January, to take over the business of spinners and manufacturers, carried on at Manchester, London and elsewhere, under the firms of Tootal-Broadhurst, Lee and Co and the Lee Spinning Co. [1]
    • 1891 Directory (Radcliffe): Listed as Cotton spinners and manufacturers. More details [2]
    • 1891 Directory (Manchester and Salford): Listed as Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers. More details. [3]
    • 1891 Directory (Bolton): Listed as Cotton spinners and manufacturers. More details. [4]
    • 1918 A research department was established, which carried out early work on creating crease resistant fabric. The company was notable for its early use of brand names and was a leader in the field of selling direct to retailers.
    • By 1939, the firm had spinning, weaving and yarn dyeing factories in Bolton and factories in Newton Heath, Manchester, weaving silk and wool and producing handkerchiefs and ties. There were branches in Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds, London and Glasgow and overseas in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, and New Zealand. The company had agencies throughout the world. Subsidiaries’ activities included dress manufacture, bleaching, dyeing and crease resistant finishing.
    • 1947 A new factory was opened in St. Helens, Lancs. (now Merseyside).
    • 1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Mufacturers of Tobralco, Lystav, Robia and other Tootal Dress and Furnishing Fabrics; of Pyramid Handkerchiefs, Tootal Ties and other Tootal Products. (Earls Court, Ground Floor, Stand No 123) [5]
    • 1952 A new factory was opened in Devonport, Tasmania.
    • The company became a subsidiary of the holding company Tootal Ltd, which joined English Sewing Cotton Co in 1963.
    • 1968 This in turn merged with the Calico Printers Association, becoming English Calico Ltd.
    • 1973 This became Tootal Ltd.
    • 1985 It became Tootal Group PLC, and is now part of Coats Viyella plc.

    (This historical account is mainly based on L. Richmond and B. Stockford, ‘Company Archives’ (1968)).


    (information from Grace's Guides - British Industrial History at http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Tootal_Broadhurst_Lee_Co )
     
  2. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    Tootal produced a range of ties with a variety of names (such as 'Red Quality', 'Popular Quality' etc)

    These adverts give some background:

    1950

    [​IMG]

    The ties are priced in Shillings & Pence:
    'Popular Quality' 3/-
    ‘Standard’ & ‘Sports’ 3/11
    ‘Special’ 5/6

    1953
    [​IMG]
    ‘Red Quality’ 3/-
    ‘Boys’ 3/-
    'Blue Quality' & 'Green Quality' 4/-
    'Black Quality' 5/-

    1954
    [​IMG]
    ‘Boys’ 3/-
    ‘Red Quality’ 3/4
    Blue/Green Quality 4/-
    'Black Quality' 5/-

    1955
    [​IMG]
    ‘Boys’ 3/-
    ‘Red Quality’ 3/6
    Blue/Green/Grey Quality 4/6
    'Black Quality' 5/6


    What these show us is that between 1950 and 1953, the 'Popular', 'Standard', 'Sports' and 'Special' appear to have been replaced by 'colour' range. This should help give some indication of dates when looking at Tootal ties.

    (adverts from Grace's Guides - British Industrial History at http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Tootal_Broadhurst_Lee_Co )
     
  3. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    Following on from that, here are examples of the relevant labels:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
     
  4. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    As a guide:

    Popular/Standard/Red/Green are unlined

    Black/Special are unlined

    There is not much variation in length. The shortest I own is a 'Popular' at 45 inches. Red/Green are roughly 49 inches long. The 'specials' measure between 47 and 50 inches. The 'standard' are around 47/48 inches. The 'Black' are 51 inches.

    Here is an original label from a 'Green Quality' tie:
    [​IMG]

    And the original box from a 'Black Quality' tie:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Chasseur

    Chasseur Call Me a Cab

    Thank you for posting this. I have a few of their ascots/cravats and I should get more.
     
  6. what i'd like to know is how to spot the 30s 40s ones. i've noticed that 'Tebilized' only appears on some labels. we know those are likely to be early to mid 50s by the ads above which mention the name. perhaps the non - tebilized fabrics are earlier ?
     
  7. 'Sports' Quality label. They all seemed to be sports themed. I've seen this horse one, a football one, a cricket one, and a rugby one.

    [​IMG]

    I think I also recall Silver Quality, but I can't check at the moment.

    bk
     
  8. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    The 'Standard Quality' tie whose label I have posted is marked as 'Tebilized'. It is also the shortest of all the Tootals that I own. The 'standard' label suggests pre-1953, the length also suggests earlier, so i suspect that the Tebilized cloth was in use fairly early. I have seen from the lists of documents held in archives that Tootal were researching crease-resistant fabrics through between 1920 and 1930, so maybe the Tebilized cloth came into use fairly early.
     
  9. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    I don't own any 'Sports Quality'. I gather they are somewhat rare and sell at damn high prices. The 'deadstock' green-quality label is from a horse racing themed tie that was not part of the 'sports quality' range. There is a rather stunning horse-racing themed paisley scarf for sale on E-Bay at the moment. It is the most incredible scarf i have seen, but they want £49 for it. Much as I love it, I can't bring myself to part with that much money. I made an offer which was refused, so i will wait for it to be relisted.

    As for 'Silver Quality' I believe they were later. I have one from that range which is a skinny tie and others appear to be later (maybe late fifties or sixties). I also think they are made from Trevira rather than Rayon. That said, some of them can be really nice.
     
  10. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    Any idea of the date of that advert?
     
  11. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    In the USA it appears that Tootal fabrics were marketed under the name T.B. Lee Ltd. (for Tootal Broadhurst & Lee). I don't know whether they sold ties/scarves in the USA, or simply sold the fabrics.
     
  12. there are many Tootals which i would swear were 1930s going by the fabric design alone, such as this one:

    [​IMG]

    and this one of mine (green quality):

    [​IMG]


    they resemble American designs of the 20s such as Superba etc. yet because they are British and British style changed much more slowly than U.S. style they could easily be 40s or 50s.
     
  13. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    Here is a 'Popular Quality' label. It is the only one among my ties with the light colour label:
    [​IMG]
    The tie has a very different feel to all the others I own. It is more like a cotton than a rayon. I suspect it is earlier than most of my other Tootal ties.

    Here is an example of the 'Silver Quality' labels that came in later and that i usually spot on trevira ties, rather than rayon ones.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    And here is a 'Gold Quality' label. This is from a period when tie manufacturers were happy to admit to advertise the fact that their product was Terylene - a "100% polyester fabric" as if that was something good.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    The Tootal scarf was ubiquitous when i was growing up. Everyone's dad seemed to have at least one. My father always had one, always wore one in winter (apart from a brief and curious phase around 1990 when he started wearing a Palestinian/Yasser Arafat scarf). When i got my first job as a 14 year old in 1980, a Tootal scarf was one of the first things I spent my money on (it was one of the terrible latter period, polyester ones - wine with white polkadots - but my heart was in the right place).

    There must have been thousands of them, since they are the most easy to find vintage item these days in the UK. The most amazing thing about them was the amazing array of patterns. Although they are most famous for their Paisley patterns, it was the other styles and the highly stylised (often geometrically influenced) versions of paisley that are most interesting.

    Here are some examples:

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    [​IMG]
     
  16. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    And some more scarf patterns:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Ditto. If Ben S. is reading this, maybe his Menswear magazines will have some early 40s Tootal ads? I don't recall, but these might at least let us know what the "Quality" designation was in earlier times than the earliest ad in this thread …

     
  18. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    I have got a couple of 'Standard Quality' ties on order from EBay. Current thinking puts them early 1950s at the latest. They were advertised as 'skinny tie Mod sixties'!
    I have mixted feelings about bad listings on Ebay: describing a 1940s Tootal as 'sixties' might put me into competition with the mods - a correct listing puts me into competiton with the rest of you etc.
     

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