A silk necktie is one of life’s small pleasures – but then, of course, we would say that. The varieties are endless, too endless to ever get bored. You have crunchy knitted silks, and striped repp ties; slubby tussahs and shantungs; textured grenadines and smooth satins. I could go on. However, there is one quality of silk that presides over all others in terms of its sheer density, handle and depth of colour: 40oz genuine ancient madder. It’s unlike any other tie cloth available. Firstly, there is the weight – a full 40oz per yard (or roughly 1300 gsm, for the metrically minded). That makes for a substantial slice of silk, one that ensures an exceptional drape, so the tie always hangs just so. Then there is the texture. The hand of ancient madder is most commonly referred to as being chalk-like, which – when you feel it – makes perfect sense. It has a dry, matte texture, with none of the sheen of a satin or a repp. For this reason, ancient madder tends to absorb light, rather than reflecting it, thus accentuating its palette. The colours produced on an ancient madder tie are also remarkable. Achieved using special madder dyes, applied to a particular type of silk, know as ‘gum silk,’ madder is easily recognised by its dusty, muted jewel tones.