If Aunt Minnie gives you another one of those neckties again this Christmas, get yourself another aunt. This year stores all over the country are fairly bursting with more imaginative gifts, particularly for sportsmen. They range from the practical to the exotic, from the cute to the kooky, and may cost (if the Neiman-Marcus catalog is an accurate index (anywhere from $7 for a floating fishing knife (complete with knife blade, can opener and bottle opener) to $4,125 for a pair of his and her camels "for people who have been promising themselves to slow down."
The camels, listed by N-M as a "matched pair of desert plutocrats" will be flown anywhere within the continental U.S., delivery time subject to the availability of camels.
From Neiman-Marcus you may also order smuggler's ski poles, which open up at the top to accommodate a four-ounce flask, guaranteed to warm you up on the slopes. The poles are made of black-and-gold anodized aluminum and retail for $32.50 a pair.
Moving northwest, we find Seattle's Anchorage, a marine antique shop, offering such unusual items as an ex-Navy brass floating mine that measures three feet in diameter and sells for $95, disarmed. A ship's cannon, made in the early 1900s and in working order, can be had complete with a load of grape shot ($225).
Less lethal but more decorative are a U.S. Navy officer's spyglass, circa 1865 ($145), and a brass diver's helmet that dates back to about 1920 ($235). Seattle's Jonas Brothers, the world's largest taxidermists, will sell open-mouthed polar-bear rugs, depending on size, for $400 to $700; a mounted African antelope head for $100 to $250; a footstool or wastebasket fashioned from an elephant's foot for $85.
Seattle's Littler's, an exclusive men's shop, offers golfers an easily assembled three-piece brass putter that comes with two gilded practice balls in a black case with red velveteen lining ($15).
Golf items are popular also in the Far West, where Kerr's Beverly Hills store will be marketing fun putters with heads shaped like waterpipes, bananas, hot dogs, corncobs or fish at $14.95 each. A fast-moving item, available again this year, is their putter called the "game winner." It comes ornamented with headlight, taillight, horn, bicycle bell, tape measure and $25,000 in funny money, for $24.95.
Those who combine affection for the outdoors with a more familiar variety will be glad to find that Kerr's sells his and her sleeping bags that can be zipped together ($149.95). Kerr's also carries a full line of women's wear and will feature this year, for athletic girls, water-repellent skeet and trap jackets. They come in beige, green or brandy, are made of Dacron and cotton poplin, with bellows pocket for shells, suede patches under the right shoulder, and stretch material under the arms for freer movement ($50).
The Abercrombie & Fitch stores in both San Francisco and New York are offering a 5½-foot-by-5½-foot stand-up Scrabble-board designed to keep you occupied at least through New Year's. You use it as though looking into a full-length mirror, with each player adjusting to his opponent's words from the inside-otherside ($850). Abercrombie's is offering home-bound golfers an indoor links that provides real clubs to hit into a 15-foot-by-15-foot screen that measures distance and direction ($495).
Sidney Mobell, a San Francisco jeweler, will make you solid gold fishhooks at $37 per pair, if you want them.
Woolf Brothers of Kansas City can supply the satisfaction of a full game bag and none of the trouble. For $100 they will sell you two stuffed wild ducks and a pheasant that look as if they were freshly shot. They come suspended from a leather thong so that they may be hung on a wall. Woolfs has also imported from Italy two ceramic items. One is a caricature of a horse reading a copy of a racing form ($100). He is gray, wears a yellow hat and a red blanket. His companion is a jockey in cerise-and-black silks, sitting on a park bench, and, like the horse, reading a racing form.
Hall's of Kansas City will provide, for those who care to send the best, an imported English croquet set made of lignum vitae, an extremely hard and heavy wood. The balls are weighted, the mallets are oversize, the wickets are die-cast, and the whole thing comes in a magnificently carpentered wooden box for $185.
Farther east, in classy Lake Forest, Ill., where the cab company has charge accounts, and the supermarket wall-to-wall carpeting, a shop called the Outdoorsman offers chilly football spectators a flask that is also a hand-warmer ($11).
In Birmingham, Mich. The Sportsman shop is stocking up on decorative and useful animal pelts—zebra hides, African fox, serval cat, leopard, cheetah and Australian possum. Hides sell for $50 and up. A cheetah rug costs $200, the leopard $350. Furniture throws start at $300.
New York's Hammacher Schlemmer offers a sauna-bath outfit for $695 that can be plugged in at home or in your office. Also available: a demountable sports car that can be assembled with a half dollar as the only tool necessary. It is a two-passenger, four-hp vehicle, topped with a striped canopy and capable of 20 mph ($500). For an extra 50¢ they'll throw in the half dollar.