ephemera: I have to say Larry that the corporate necktie is one one my least favorite accessories, but it certainly is an area of ephemera we haven't touched upon, and one that I think has just the right touch of quirkiness that we enjoy here. Tell me how you came to be a corporate necktie collector.
Gundersen: In the early 1980s, I worked for Pennwalt, a chemical/pharmaceutical company which, when they achieved one billion dollars in sales, gave every male employee a necktie with the company logo on it. The ladies received a small clutch purse, also with the logo. I received a second tie from a disgruntled colleague, and traded it with a friend for a Price Waterhouse necktie. Another colleague, a few years later, wore a Schweppes necktie, and when I admired it, he gave it to me. From these beginnings, I have gathered more than 200 neckties, which feature either a company name or logo, from sources such as used clothing stores and eBay. Also, a few folks have donated corporate neckties to my museum collection.
ephemera: You must have some fun stories about the challenges of collecting neckties.
Gundersen: There three major challenges: First is that relative rarity of corporate neckties, the second is money, and third is my wife's patience. I continue to check out eBay for potential, inexpensive additions to my collection, under the keen eyes of my Home Minister of Finance.
ephemera: What are your favorite ties?
Gundersen: Since my career was spent working in the pharmaceutical industry, plus some years directing an University M.S. degree program teaching young scientists how to deal with healthcare regulatory agencies, e.g., the FDA, my favorite neckties are the ones with represent pharmaceutical companies or products.
ephemera: What's your advice for achieving success as a collector?
Gundersen: Since I view collecting as an exercise which is usually just this side of an obsessive/compulsive disorder, the best advice I can offer is be selective, thereby keeping your collection focused and under control. I know of no reference works focused on collecting neckties; the only advice for a collector of any fabric items is to keep them stored away from intense light and away from moisture. As for displaying a collection, I would encourage collectors to share both their collections, and their enthusiasm with others, and the Internet offers us an outstanding way to do that.
ephemera: Your enthusiasm and passion for neckties is something I'm sure a lot collectors can appreciate. Thanks for sharing your tie collection with us.