How Can I Tell If My Reel Was Made by Bronson?
On this page we will give some tips on how to tell if your reel was made by the Bronson Reel Co. The different Bronson reel components shown below.are often the best way to date or identify your reel. However, bear in mind that there are always exceptions. A good deal of the Bronson models were produced during the Great Depression, when most companies wasted absolutely nothing. Consequently, all components were used up, rather than discarded. So, the use of some components for a certain year model might overlap into the following year model, or even into other models. Fortunately, that was the exception.
Bronson Model Name and Model Number Markings
Most Bronson reels are marked on the top of the inner head plate ring, just above the spool. It was in an area that is often overlooked by collectors not familiar with Bronson models. There are some exceptions, of course, but most regular and trade models are marked. Three examples are shown below.
Bronson Foot Markings
Here are photos of different foot markings on some Bronson reels. Photo # 1 shows the foot of an early pre-1930 Master Reel No.3000. Photo # 2 shows a stamped foot of a Lion No.1900. Photo # 3 is from a 1931 model with a pillared foot. It has the “PAT. APPLIED FOR MADE IN USA” stamping in 3 lines. Starting in 1931-32, most all pillared foots were marked “PAT. APPLIED FOR MADE IN USA” in 4 lines, as seen in Photo # 4. In or around 1937, Bronson started to add date marks (37, 38 and so on through 41). They corresponded to the year the reel was produced. The number 37, for example, would correspond to 1937. This practice was only used up until the war. The 2-digit number can also be seen in photo #4. Photo #5 shows the abbreviated (post-war) “PAT. APP. FOR – MADE IN U.S.A.) stamping.
Bronson End Caps
We have seen many different round shaped and hexagon shaped end caps on the early Bronson’s, likely due to individual machining and maybe the lack of quality control. Head plate end caps were usually thicker and screwed flush to the face plate, while the tail plate caps were thinner and weren’t able to screw flush to the side plate (see Len’s Sawisch’ explanation below). Some are fat and some are skinny. Some have knurling, some do not. Some have large jewels, some have small. Some are round with nickel plating, some are chromium plated and some are fluted. We still do not show all of them. Bronson even had a patent on their caps (U.S. patent # 2,109,035). The caps shown below are basically in the order Bronson used them.
**Comments on end caps by ORCA member Len Sawisch**
“If a reel had an anti-back-lash feature, or drag feature that rubbed the spool cup, often the end cap on that side of the reel was “fat” so once it was on that side of the reel it had no room for adjustment. This would keep the spool cup and the ABL pad or brake a constant distance. All the spool adjustment would then come from the other side of the reel, where the end cap would be thinner to allow more room for adjustment. Otherwise you would have to re-adjust the ABL feature every time you changed the spool adjustment on the ABL side”.
Line Carriage and Standard Level Wind Cover
A Bronson line carriage will have two small rectangular holes punched in it. as seen in the picture below. Shown too, is the standard level-wind cover. Both were used until the end of production in the early 1970’s.
Other Bronson Level-Wind Covers
On some of the late 1950’s to 1960’s models you will see that Bronson tried to dress up their level wind covers. The example below on the left shows the tear drop Sparton with a chrome cover that has two ribs, one on top of each end of the level wind cover, and a hole right below each rib. The Invader on the right has the same ribs and holes, but is finished in anodized black. Other later models are equipped with these, as well.
Here are some different types of Bronson crank handles found on the casting reels. Notice the different thickness of the handles. The thicker handles were the older ones. Shown below are some of the different shapes of the knobs. There were endless colors and styles, with the each swirled or mottled variety being a unique pattern.
From left to right: The early Bronson thumb screw. Next one is a large screw with a fixed washer, used on most of the common reels up to about 1933. In 1934, they came out with a 2 pc. variety with a locking screw and hex nut. The ad is from the 1934 catalog. The nut and washer is the left one of the five shown in the photo. This combination held so tight, that people who were trying to unscrew the nut first ended up stripping the threads both internal and external assembly. Or, even breaking the crank shaft itself. To correctly remove it, you first had to unscrew the screw. The example next to that is a solid nut that “looked” the same and could be removed with a wrench OR a screwdriver. Next came the larger 1 pc. cast examples and, finally, a plain cast crank nut.
Some New Bronson Components For The 1930’s
In 1933 Bronson came out with the Duo-Pawl (see below). It was a great idea and a simple feature that could not be copied by any other reel maker. The patent # of 1,986,590 was filed on May 9th 1932, by E.J. McMahon Sr. the president and founder of Bronson Reel Co.
In 1934 Bronson introduced the Duo-Click (see below). The patent # 2,049,666 was filed June 6,1934, by John V. Schafer and was issued in Aug.4 1936. It was designed to last twice as long, but they just would not hold up like a standard clicker. Bronson did use them for 4 or five years, but eventually went back to the old clicker design.
In 1940 there came more changes, with the spiral gears, a new bridge assembly and a completely new spool tension design (see below). All of these can help with identification and dating certain models.