The Ashley Book of Knots (ABOK)
Clifford Warren Ashley is famous for his stunning 1944 compilation The Ashley Book of Knots (Doubleday New York) a reference manual of thousands of knots with excellent diagrams. He also originated several knots, e.g., two that are now known as the Ashley Bend and the Ashley Stopper Knot. No comparable book has been published since and it remains the authoritative source today. For example, a reference to ABOK #526, uniquely relates to his “Oysterman’s Stopper Knot”. Despite changes and inventiveness in the last sixty years, few knots have appeared that were not described by Ashley. In view of this, where possible, his reference system is used on this website.
Ashley first wrote about knots in 1925 in articles in Sea Stories Magazine. Less comprehensive than his later book, he introduced the style that he would use again including icons to indicate the characteristics or shortcomings of particular knots.
Between 1902 and 1926 Henry North Grant Bushby created “Notes on Knots” – seven manuscript volumes plus an index volume. These are now available on-line thanks to the Mariner’s Museum. The volumes were donated to the museum by Bushby’s daughter, Dorothy.
With the possible exception of Supplementary Notes (volume 7), Bushby’s work antedated Ashley’s by over forty years. His manual corrections are clearly visible and his drawings are excellent. For the historian, Bushby’s collection is an amazing resource. However, as a practical reference resource, Ashley will remain supreme.