When I was doing the research for the Hardy-Marston "Blagdon" Rod I came across an excellent book by Geoffrey Bucknall charting the story of Marston's "Fishing Gazette". It was while reading this book that something caught my eye, but I didn't note it at the time, something about James Ogden's "Invicta". It's been nagging at me ever since, so I finally found the quote. It has been a long held belief that the "Invicta" was invented by James Ogden and included in his 1879 book, "Ogden on Fly Tying". However, the Fishing Gazette describes the fly as being "new" in 1902. A further careful reading of Ogden's book revealed no mention of the "Invicta" and in fact the fly was devised and brought to market by his nephew, also James Ogden who had inherited his Uncle's shop in Cheltenham. You can read more on the Ogden's Legacy page linked in the previous post.
One of the many puzzles in the vintage tackle world has been the story of Ogden & Scotford. James Ogden is well known in the literature. Inventor of "Ogden's Fancy" and an early exponent of shorter rods and "floating fly" techniques, he was also the father of Mary Ogden, the matriarch of Ogden Smiths Ltd. However, there is next to nothing in the reference books or on the Forums about Ogden & Scotford. Who was Scotford, and what was his relationship with Ogden? I hope to have at least uncovered part of the story. You can read about it HERE.
Nothing very special to add this month, other than that I have been working on something which I hope will be of interest to a lot of people. I am waiting for a few items and additional data to arrive and once all of these have been processed I'll be adding the finished piece to the site.
As ever...watch this space!
..along with an early Christmas present
On Christmas Eve the postman arrived with an eagerly awaited parcel all the way from the USA. Inside was a reel that had been the subject of much discussion between myself and a fellow member of The Classic Fly Rod Forum. He had purchased the reel a number of years ago, believing it to have been made by David Slater of Newark, famous for their Nottingham style reels and the celebrated SEJ Fly Fishers' Winch. It is a Hercules pattern reel, made of brass and alloy in the conventional pattern, and appeared indeed to be a Slater reel.
The reel is marked for Lillywhite's of London, a sports outfitter still in business, and has the characteristic Slater two-screw locking winding plate. It is also assembled with nickel-silver screws, another Slater characteristic. The natural conclusion, therefore, being that it is indeed a Slater reel. The surprise came when my friend dismantled the reel...
On the inside of the backplate, along with typical artisan marks is a stamping; "S&W". It seems that we were all wrong, and in fact it is an early example of the work of Smith & Wall. I had never seen a Hercules pattern reel from this manufacturer before, and there is scant reference in any literature, so it seemed natural for the reel to join WVFFM. Now that it is here, it is possible to make some other comparisons.
Heaton also made reels in this pattern.
On the left is the new reel, in the centre, Heaton and on the right Slater. The S&W reel has the two-screw lock typical of Slater BUT the drum arbor seen on Heaton-made Hercules reels.
I'll be writing up the details of this reel and couple of other Smith and Wall reels acquired during the year and adding them to the Smith and Wall page on the web site.
Happy New Year eh?
Things have been pretty quiet here at WVFFM through November, though I'm pleased to say a few people have got in touch through the Contact Page with various inquiries, with which I'm always happy to try and help. It's also nice to know people are visiting the site.
Newly acquired from Mullock's October auction, and delivered this month is an interesting three piece rod from Hardy's, the Marston-Blagdon. One of a series of rods designed in collaboration with Robert Marston, the owner/editor of the Fishing Gazette. I'll be writing up a page about the rod in the near future, meantime here's a first look:
Well, considering this is Whiteadder's Virtual FLY Fishing Museum then this is a little weird, but it is a reel I have long admired and when a really fine example became available, I just had to include it here...
If you have read the Museum pages on Ken Morritt and the Intrepid brand you will know how important contribution was made in the development and distribution of fly reels, - after all, EVERYONE had a Rimfly, but Morritt's also made some other excellent products including this very elegant fixed spool reel with another Morritt patent for a slipping clutch mechanism. While it is a poor fir in a fly fishing setting, it is still I think one of the most elegant fixed spools ever made.
Aside from taking care of the fishing tackle that makes up WVFFM, I do occasionally go out and actually use rod and line myself, my usual haunt is a fishery belonging to my old friend Jim Gargaro, Bowden Springs in the hills above Linlithgow. I'm usually there any Sunday when I'm not working and part of the fun is a "Show & Tell" of any new items to have come into WVFFM. This week I'm going to open up our "Show & Tell" to a wider audience.
First up is a pair of fly boxes. Accessories like these are an important part of the heritage of fly fishing and although there is no Accessories section on the web site (as yet) these items do come into the collection. These two were listed separately on EBay about a week apart and are in such good condition, and so complementary that I decided to get them. The more keenly observant among you will have spotted the difference, but do you know what it means? The archer is a Trade Mark of William Bartleet, one of the many Redditch companies making needles, fish hooks and fishing equipment. Barleet later went into partnership with another important Redditch firm, Millward.
The other two items I wish to include are reels. First up is an exmple of a reel I have wanted to include for some time.
If you overlook the previous owner's initial crudely punched into the front and rear plates, it's a good example of a Percy Wadham "The Test" fly reel. If you have ever read our page on "The Quest for Adjustable Drag" you will know this has been on my Christmas list for some time. Well now we have one, and while the drag itself is unremarkable, the reel is a gem of ingenuity the most remarkable element of which is the combination of ballbearings and spool lock, the subject of Patent 4391/11, as shown on the reel. The Wadham/Scott drag patent were applied in the "Meteor" casting reel. Maybe one day, - Meteor reels retail at £700+...
The second reel also has some interesting features, some of which you may recognise.
J B Moscrop's Manchester Reel has held a fascination for me for a while, you can read more about it HERE. Examples of this little reel have been discussed on a number of Forums, but no-one has yet come up with a manufacturer or origin for them. Some have artisan marks, some have a heavily leaded finish, some are bright, all of them have the same ventilated cage arbor which gives them such a striking resemblance to the Moscrop.
It is a very finely made reel, with a lot of handsome decorative machining, including a grained finish to the top edge of the handle cup. There are some elements that suggest early Young's manufacture - pinned spindle, screws securing the Xylonite handle and reel foot, but then the presence or artisan marks might point to a Birmingham shop. Unless a clearly marked example, or a relevant catalogue turns up, it may be impossible completely to identify these reels. Still, I like it!
At the end of last month I hinted at a project that has kept me occupied for some time. Almost a year ago now, WVFFM acquired a group of three very early rods, one by Ebeneezer Creed of London, another unmarked but of similar vintage and the most puzzling of all, a two-piece Greenheart rod with some very curious features.
After almost a year, of reading correspondence and general fossicking I have decided I'm going to stick my neck out and publish what I have found.
Please have a look at the article HERE, and see what you think...
It has been the mos extraordinary month in so many ways. Some of you may be familiar with Classic Angling magazine - it was one of the titles featured in Book of the Month last year, and is the only magazine I know of to be dedicated to the subjects of vintage fishing tackle and angling history. The current issue included a plea for help from John Mullock, Founder and Chief Cook and bottle Washer at Mullock's Auctions who are the leading specialist auction house for Vintage Fishing Tackle. John needed help in cataloguing this years big Vintage Tackle sale on 22nd October. Well to cut a long story short, I spent a week staying with John and Mary helping out. Not only did it give me chance to spend some time with some genuinely good and interesting people, I had the chance to work with an exciting range of vintage, classic and desirable rods. You can see some of my handiwork when John publishes this year's sale catalogue.
A little closer to home I've been working on a rod that came into WVFFM last October:
I have my suspicions about the rod, it's origins and importance and hope to be able to share these ideas with you soon.
First up this Month is a something you may or may not have noticed - I have given the Home Page a bit of a facelift taking advantage of the multiple layers possible on web pages. The background image is from a range of limited edition calendars I produce each year for Friends of WVFFM.
Our second item of news concerns an important but unhappy rod that was featured on the News page at the end of June. The scarce Conroy, Bissett and Malleson rod that had seen better days is now in the hands of Jay Edwards, one of the current crop of Colorado rod builders and restorers. It's not often an object leaves WVFFM, but in this case I felt it best that the rod should be in the hands of someone who can bring it back to it's former glory. Jay has promised updates and pictures as he works on the rod, so I'll be posting those in due course.
This Month's acquisitions include an interesting pair of reels by Smith & Wall.
The two reels are built around S&W's "Tryit" castings but feature an unusual brake, with a "Chicago screw" arrangement coupled with a spring to apply pressure to the rear face of the reel. This arrangement is very similar to one of the Moscrop patents of 1888 but also significantly different from S&W's own drag fitted to the "Tryit" model. Illustrated is a 3.5" model, the other is a 4". I will be integrating these reels into both the Smith & Wall page and the Moscrop Manchester Reel page in time.
I'm sure there will be more fun to share in the coming weeks so as ever, watch this space
If you've had a look at the "About" page, you know what this is all for. Here you'll find progress reports on new items and other developments on the site.