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
The Intrepid "Rimfly" was, for at least one generation of fly fisherman, the first quality reel in the tackle bag, and the story of K P Morritt and the Rimfly was one of the first to be included in WVFFM. Recently though, we have acquired two more reels that add just a few more lines to the Morritt story.
The first is the South Bend 1122 clone made in the Far East and introduced to the Intrepid line-up by Gladding who owned the brand in the 1970's.
Some of you may have read the story of T J Harrington elsewhere on this site and when I wrote tat page I was certain that I had an example of all the relevant Harrington reels, including a version of the "Omnia" fixed spool reel. One of the Harrington reels that appears less often is the Regina, a multiplying version of the popular Gemina and I was pleased to acquire an example for the page. Then this turned up....
Firstly I must apologise for the photo quality - I wanted to get this photographed quickly ... The reel on the right in the first and second image is the Regina from the collection. On the left is the newcomer. It has many features in common with the Regina, same multiplying capabilities, same checkwork. Where it differes is in the frame casting, the spool perforations and the handle. The casting is also completely lacking in any branding. Clearly it is Harrington, and possibly an earlier version of the Regina? But why no branding? One though was that it may be a prototype, but then how does a prototype reel from a maker in Walton on Thames find its way to north Northumberland, where this reel was sourced?
It's things like this that make running WVFFM so much fun, thanks for coming to look and sharing with me!
From time to time someone will message the Museum and ask me if I can do a valuation. To be absolutely frank, I really don't like doing this. There are a lot of reasons for this , but chief among them is that people almost always over-estimate the value of an item and are consequently disappointed when the value suggested is less than their own idea.
Like our laws, valuations are usually based on precedent, - listen to anyone on the Antiques Roadshow and they will probably say something like "one of these was sold for...". This is how we arrive at a value, by looking for previous sales of the same or similar items. I'll let you into a secret...it's not hard once you have identified the item. Once you know what to look for, an Internet Search will provide back catalogues from such specialist auctioneers as Mullock's. Similarly, the Advanced Search on EBay allows you to look at completed sales, again providing an insight into what people think an item is worth. You can also search retailers web sites, but be aware that the sort of price an item can command in a retail setting is not what you might be offered should you try to sell. "The price of a second-hand item is inversely proportional to the number of people who will pay it..."
Having said this, one of the things I do enjoy, and am happy to have a stab at, is the identification of items. The quality of photos possible with a Smartphone today would have been the envy of hobbyist photographers a decade or so ago, and sending images has become part of our culture so in real terms it's never been easier to get stuff identified, so please send your puzzles...just don't ask me to tell you what they're worth!
June seems somehow to have been quite an active month for new items coming in to WVFFM, and it's not over yet...
First on the table is a rod, in a very sorry state, but historically interesting:
As you can see from the pictures, it has had a rough time. It has lost the tip section, all of its original guides and whippings, the female ferrule is in poor shape. It probably started life as a three piece, two tip rod of about 12 feet in length and was made in a Brooklyn, NY workshop, perhaps by Fred Malleson. It's marked "Conroy, Bissett and Malleson", a partnership that broke up in 1881 when Malleson set out on his own. Details of the rod have been posted on the Classic Fly Rod forum and we are awaiting comments from the very well-informed membership there.
Next up is also an American item, this time a reel, an early version of the blue-collar workhorse reel, the Pflueger Medalist:
The reel has a simple check-pawl so predates the 1938 patented drag plate. It also has the pillared arbor which was replaced by the drum arbor in 1935. Finish is blued rather than painted, which is also interesting.
Finally from an iconic American reel to a similarly iconic Scottish one:
It is a very fine example of P D Malloch's patented "Sun and Planet" reel. The winding plate is brass which has been chemically treated or "bronzed". Rims are nickel silver and the back is Ebonite. Those of you who follow this column may remember we acquired a similar reel in December of last year but this example is in slightly better order. It also means that if WVFFM ever becomes a real (reel?) museum, we can show the internals as well as complete reel...
Maybe one day...
Well here's it is, the end of May and I've turned over a new page in the calendar and still not got much new stuff written. However we still have new stuff coming in and I held this page over for a day in order to be able to show you:
This is a really clean example of Heaton's 1888 patent spindleless reel, often confused with the Jardine reel of the same period, though this one clearly carried the patent number 18817. you can see the absence of a centre spindle in the third photo.
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.