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.