On April 3rd each year, National Tweed Day focuses on all things tweed.  This day has a couple of approaches to celebrating the day, so you decide which one you believe is the source of National Tweed Day.

Some people think the observance celebrates the senator-turned-crook William “Boss” Tweed.  Tweed was born on April 3, 1823. He was the wealthiest and most powerful politician of his time. While being considered the “poster boy” for political corruption, Tweed is still known by many as one of the most notorious politicians in American history.  He died in 1878, in jail, after being caught with millions of dollars of stolen public money.

Others believe that National Tweed Day celebrates the fabric. Originally produced in Scotland, the durable textile was initially handwoven. While the rough, woolen cloth is sturdy, it is also known for being lightweight. The traditionally earthy colors blend well with the Scottish landscape, too. Different families of tweed fall into various categories and styles. The estate the tweet represents, the sheep from which the fabric is woven and the patter all determine the particular kind of tweed it becomes. Famous characters who wore tweed include Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Professor Henry Jones (aka Indiana Jones).

Combining the Tweeds

Several actors have portrayed Boss Tweed in film, too. You may recognize Jim Broadbent for his portrayal of Tweed in Gangs of New York. The actor’s wardrobe may also contain a few pieces of tweed, too. One of his more notable tweed-wearing characters was Professor Horace Slughorn in the Harry Potter films.

While Vincent Price may be more well-known for other sinister characters, he also portrayed the notorious politician the musical Up in Central Park. The woolen textile didn’t make much of a stage presence, though. However, Price also voiced Professor Ratigan in the animated film The Great Mouse Detective. Based on the evil nemesis, Moriarity, from the Sherlock Holmes stories, we circle back to all things tweed.  

Boss Tweed shows up on screen two other times. The actors who portrayed him were Philip Bosco and Edward Andrews. Neither the film (Liberty) or the television series (The Great Adventure) are available for viewing. 

More to explore….

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalTweedDay

Wear a tweed hat, vest or suit. While wearing your tweed, learn more about William “Boss” Tweed. Discover more about his impact on New York. Watch one of the movies mentioned above.

Read a book about textile or about Boss Tweed. May we suggest, Boss Tweed’s New York by Seymour J. Mandelbaum?

Use #NationalTweedDay to post on social media.

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