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The Ashley Book of Knots Hardcover – June 21, 1944

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Ashley Book of Knots takes us back to a time when knots saved lives and put dinner on the table. Whether out at sea or in a pioneer cabin, knots were a part of daily life, one that is nearly lost today. But in this attractive, well-organized archive of more than 3,900 different knots--presented through 7,000 illustrations--the art of knot tying lives on, both as a historical reference and a reservoir of handy knowledge.

About the Author

Clifford Ashley was born in 1881 at the whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He sailed on many kinds of boats in many capacities, from ship's surgeon to interested observer. His ruling passions were marine painting and knot-tying, on which he was one of the world's leading authorities. His paintings are represented in the permanent collection of many American museums and libraries. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 619 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday & Company; 1st edition (1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385040253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385040259
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 1.7 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Powers on October 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a work of art and devotion. Clifford Ashley presents an encyclopedic array of knots in this book. If there's a knot you seek, you'll find it here: plain knots and fancy knots, practical knots and magical knots, beautiful and ornamental knots---they're all here. Mr.Ashley's hand drawings make these knots easy to follow. There are hundreds of beautiful pen-and-ink drawings that depict the maritime life as well:from people to places to things. Clifford Ashley's love and mastery of his subject is evident on every page. For my money, this is the best book you will ever find about the subject of knots.
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Daniel R. Middelburg on April 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is the indispensable, essential, must-have book of every knot a person could ever dream. I bought three other knot books before this one, believing that Ashley's book was more than I needed. Now the other three books gather dust and this one is the only book I use. It isn't just knots, either. Ashley also tells a lot of tales and lets us know what life was like when he lived, as he collected the information to put together his book. I actually read this book sometimes just for the pleasure of reading it. You don't have to be tying knots. It would be hard to imagine a book that could improve on what Ashley has put together. Simply outstanding. I love it.
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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I bought my first copy of this GREAT book in 1945, in Honolulu while in the navy and have had a copy at my warm side ever since -- most books are read once, maybe twice, some even more BUT this one has been read by me almost daily for all these years -- I even keep an extra copy at my mother-in-law's house so I can be close while travelling -- someone should run down a member of the Ashley family descendants and tell him or her what a totally awesome job he did! There is no book on knots equal to his work -- A wonderful contribution to the nutty people who enjoy knots whether they be scout, sailor, cowboy, climber or the soccer mom who needs help with a simple bow!
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Go to your nearest hardware store, and look at all the fasteners. There are U-bolts, swages, eye-hooks, and on, too many to count. Well, not too long ago, the metal in a bolt would have been a prohibitive cost. Instead, the jobs of all those fasteners were filled by knots.

There is a branch of mathematics called "knot theory". It deals with one-dimensional fibers crossing in 3-space, and no other dimensionality has quite the same properties. A strand, wrapped around another and holding it, is a remarkable thing.

Daily jobs in older eras touch abstract math in this book. It's a remarkable encyclopedia of practical, beautiful, and profound ways of pulling things together. Ashley shows bows, buttons, nooses, braids, knots, bights, and seemingly endless other ways to make simple strings into tools, toys, and decorations.

You will come away from this book with respect. All those different people - fishermen, sailors, weavers, surgeons, and shipping clerks - all of them had their own needs and only strings to meet those needs with. They did their jobs, and did them well, using the techniques remembered in this book. What's more, mathematicians use this book as a fundamental reference. Just about any twist in space was named here, so Ashley has become the catalog. When a mathematician refers to "Ashley #128", the structure has been specified completely.

This is history, practice, theory, and fun between the same covers. No working library can be without it.

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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Brian A. Glennon on October 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS (c.1944) by Clifford W. Ashley, is the definitive reference work on knots, splices, and ropework in general. Born in 1881 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Clifford W. Ashley was an antique dealer and artist, who spent eleven years writing his magnum opus, THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS, and died three years after its 1944 publication.
In his pursuit of ropework, Mr. Ashley spent six months at sea on the whaling bark SUNBEAM; and six weeks on a Delaware Bay oysterman called a 'bugeye'. He interviewed tradesmen, such as: steeplejacks, cobblers, truckdrivers, butchers, electric linesmen, and boyscouts as well as sailors and sea captains to document each nuance of knot unique to its trade. He was taught a few knots by Mr. Ringling himself of circus fame; and taught a knot to Mr. DuPont, a captain of industry.
The result of Mr. Ashley's research was a significant collection of 7,000 drawings of 3,900 knots and their application in a 620 page knot tyers tome which has become a veritable bible for rope workers the world over. In just about any capacity that a rope can be utilized has found its way into THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS. Mr. Ashley has covered: netting, lashings, block & tackle, splices, hitches, and bends. He went from purely decorative knots with no practical value to knots applied to industrial use. He included a whole chapter on rope tricks and puzzles. There is an amusing catalog of small figures the author drew to rate the quality of each knot described, such as a deuce of clubs to designate 'unimportance', or an kedge anchor to indicate 'reliability'.
Equally important as the knot's description was their utilization on incidental equipment. Mr.
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