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The Bola Tie

The bola (not bolo) tie though known in much of the world is most prevalent in the Southwestern U.S. There are many stories as to the origin of the bola tie, but the one that is normally accepted started in 1949 with Victor E. Cedarstaff of Wickenburg, Arizona.

Cedarstaff was riding horseback when the wind blew his hat off; the band had come loose. Instead of putting it back on the hat, he put the band around his neck. A friend saw this and remarked, Nice tie you're wearing! That gave Vic an idea. He was a silversmith and had taught leather craft, so he made a tie from leather lacings and attached silver balls at the ends. Then he made a silver slide with a piece of turquoise on it and slipped it on the lacings. This attracted attention and he began to get orders to make them. He was unable to get a patent on the tie because such a slide arrangement was already in existence.

One problem was to make the slide so it would slip but not damage the leather. Eventually, he designed a yoke which held the leather properly and eliminated the necessity of having to slip the tie over the head. Now he had something new and on this modification he was issued a patent.

He needed a name for the tie which would help popularize it and first called it a Piggin Necklet after the piggin string that cowboys used. Sometime later, a friend who had been to Argentina showed Vic a device he had brought back called a bola. This was used in Argentina for catching cattle and it reminded Vic of what he had made. The initial name never caught on and Vic decided to call his tie a bola. It is now the official neckwear of Arizona.

From The Nugget, 9/01. Via the RockCollector 11/01