By Dale LaFollette
It all started innocently enough: a trip to the Le Mans 24 hour race in 2002 with a close friend, a mid-day tour of the offices of the Automobile Club de L’Ouest, and a scarf in a glass case that I thoughtfully purchased with my wife in mind. It was a beautiful blue and while it had a racing theme it could be worn in polite society without anyone noticing its automotive nature. At that moment it was perfect.
But then it became complicated. Three months later my wife and I were in Italy at the Ferrari factory. “Oh look, they have silk scarves too.” In fact they have several limited edition scarves, all with a Ferrari theme and very ‘automotive’. We selected just one.
Then a few days later in Mantua, at the Nuvolari Museum, there was another silk scarf commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nuvolari. He is a hero of mine so of course we needed it. Besides, it was stunning.
We now had three and it was starting to look like a collection. Or maybe a disease.
At this point, you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of a scarf collection. There is one huge advantage; they are very easy to store. One might bear in mind, however, that if you are male and are married or have a significant other, she MIGHT wear one, maybe, sometime, when appropriate. If you are female and love cars, then it could be a completely appropriate hobby. That is about it for advantages.
The disadvantages are numerous. They are almost impossible to display. I had a Plexiglas display made that I can take apart and insert different scarves, which is one solution. But showing your whole collection is impossible, other than to just tape them up on all the walls of your house.
You could show friends your scarves one at a time, but that goes like this: Take the scarf out of the box, unfold, show, fold back up, repeat. Somewhere between scarf number 4 and scarf number 6 the patience of your audience will be gone and they will either look to refresh their drink or just plain leave.
We have purchased scarves from $10 to $200; many on eBay are at the cheaper end of this scale as the person selling them might not know what they are. At car-oriented shows scarves run from $100 to $1600; the latter price would be for a Mille Miglia scarf that we have seen sell at auction. That price eliminates us as purchasers! Always check for stains and holes, although if the scarf is rare enough we have been known to step up in spite of a small issue.
Tracking the history and finding out who actually made an individual scarf is often hard to impossible, as there is no known literature on the subject save for a one page article years ago in Classic & Sports Car. This has never concerned us that much as we both are more interested in the quality of the art rather than the provenance.
Like many beginning collectors we purchased several scarves that we really are not all that enthused about now. We have realized that we don’t need or want to own them all, which would be impossible in any case. We both agree that we should concentrate on scarves from car manufacturers and racing events along with other scarves that have real artistic merit.
We have found more scarfs in Europe than anywhere else , but I did find several great scarves at the Hershey Swapmeet two years ago. Ebay also is a good resource but one must pay particular attention to condition.
I know of four people who “collect” scarves and of those, two of them retail them to people like my wife and I so maybe there are only two real collectors!
Which means, of course, that the landscape is wide open for you to jump in if you are so inclined. It’s better if you have a lot of wall space. Below, a few of our favorites.
Italian, French and other