“Hawthorne” Model 22 by Bronson
Produced by Bronson in the 1960’s for and sold exclusively by Montgomery Ward & Co., who owned the trademarked “Hawthorne” brand name. This reel is identical to the earlier No.22 “Sport King” model, which can also be seen on this page. This level-wind model with the A.B.L. switch and bar is shown below with the original box, which also carries the (No.60-6313) store/catalog stock number.
“Hawthorne” Model 233 by Bronson
One of a series of reels made by Bronson for Montgomery Ward & Co. throughout the late 1950’s and 60’s. “Hawthorne” was the trademarked brand name owned by Wards. This example, the Model 233, was likely built in the mid to late 1960’s, with the Lashless-style A-B-L switch and redesigned level-wind cover. This reel is identical to Wards’ earlier No.233 “Sport King”.
“Hawthorne” Model 352 by Bronson
Another level-winding reel made for sale through Montgomery Ward & Co., probably from the early to mid 1960’s. Equipped with the cheaper stamped foot, Lashless-style anti-backlash control switch, plastic head plate spacer and dual handle grips. Has an engraved “shoreline scene” on the face plate and is also stamped “60-6309”, the store/catalog stock number.
“Hawthorne” No.60-6316 by Bronson
Easily the most sought-after post-war trade reel produced by Bronson, the No.60-6316 “Hawthorne” was built for Montgomery Ward & Co. during the 1960’s. With the exception of the color, they were virtually identical to the Bronson and/or Coxe No.26 “Invader” from the same time period. These are harder to find than the Invader and are more desired by collectors. They should be considered Scarce. Shown below is a beautiful example, complete with the box, case and instructions. Notice the numbering system for these is a carryover from the earlier “Sport King” models offered by Wards. Photos are courtesy of Bill Braasch.
Heddon “Indian Chief” No.3 and No.3AB by Bronson
The “Indian Chief” models were produced for James Heddon’s Sons from 1927-1929. These quick “thumb screw” take-apart reels were made of Duraluminum and were virtually the same as Bronson’s regular “Master” reels. They were made in two versions. The No.3 was the standard level-wind, seen in the first four photos. The No.3AB had the anti-backlash control adjustment on the face plate, with the A-B-L bar at the level-wind. Like the Master reels, these can be a tough find in nice condition, as the Duraluminum did not hold up well. Of historical significance, is the fact that both Charles and Will Heddon hated this reel after using it down in Florida. As a result of this model not holding up cosmetically or mechanically, Bronson would lose the Heddon contract (to Shakespeare) after 1929 and would not produce another reel for Heddon for another 18 years. The last photo below shows the original listing for both reels from Heddon’s 1928 catalog.
Heddon “Pal” No.P-41, Walter Willman’s Prototype made by Shakespeare
Here are some prototypes that Walter Willman had Shakespeare make first, before taking the design to Bronson. After more research by Bob Garner, he found another one of these reels in Live Auctions from Langs in April, 2007. This reel is missing some of its original features, like the end caps, crank nut and clicker button. The tail plate level wind end cap were the same design as the A-B-L knob on the face plate.
The reel shown below has a crank handle off of a South Bend No.1250 Mod.E. It’s hard to see in these pictures, but the head plate is much wider on this reel than on the regular first Bronson version of the P-41. The drive gears are hollowed out for less weight. Also, there is an H stamped on the face plate at about 3:00 if the reel is sitting properly on its foot. It has standard Shakespeare drive gears and “#2” is etched in two areas on the inside of the head plate. Pictures are courtesy of Bob Garner.
The next two reel pictures are courtesy of Langs Auctions. The next photo shows a standard drive gear and a drive gear that has been hollowed. This process reduces the weight of the gear by 1/10th of an oz. Last pictures are of a Shakespeare version and two Bronson versions, courtesy of Ron Gast.
Heddon “Pal” No.P-41 (Silver Version) and No.P-41S by Bronson
Bronson supplied James Heddon’s Sons with the lightweight take-apart, Walt Willman-designed “Heddon Pal” P-41 Series of reels. which was easily their most successful line of the post-war era. These jeweled models were built in several versions, from 1947 to 1959. The first P-41 offered was what is referred to as the all-“Silver” version. These were produced only from 1947 to 1948, yet would still be illustrated on all of the boxes for the entire 13-year run. These had a natural aluminum finish and came with a cork arbor. These also had the screw-down face plates. It can be seen below in the first three photos, with the original box and instructions. The P-41S, seen in the next three photos, was a chrome plated brass version for heavy duty or salt water use. They were only available from 1949 to 1950 and can be a tough find for the collector.
Heddon “Pal” No.P-41 (Black Version) and No.P-41N by Bronson
The P-41 “Black” version was completely redesigned in 1949, with black anodized side plates and can be found with black plastic, marbled white plastic or cork arbors. Bronson did away with the screws on the face plate and used the newer pillar extensions as alignment pins. It was much easier to disassemble, simply by unscrewing the head ring and was now a true tool-less “take-apart”. These would sell unchanged through the end of production in 1959. A beautiful example, with the original box, can be seen in the first five photos.
The next model was the No.P-41N, also introduced in 1949, which was simply a narrow spool version of the regular model. Being even lighter, these were used by many in tournament casting competitions and are still desired by collectors. These can be found with the one-piece “featherweight” balsawood arbor. They would also sell through 1959. A nice example can be seen below.?
Heddon “Pal” No.P-41L and No.P-41LN by Bronson
The next version was the No.P-41L, a special lightweight and beautiful version that first appeared in the 1951 catalog and would sell through 1959. These came with anodized antique gold foot, level-wind assembly & cover, crank handle and head ring. They would sell for twice the price of the standard P-41. The last version is the No.P-41LN, which is the narrow spool model and likely the most sought-after of all the versions produced. It made a late appearance in the 1957 catalog and would only be available for three years, making it a very rare reel. Photos are courtesy of Bill Sonnett and Jim Madden. Other different colored examples of the P-41 have surfaced from time to time. A red version can be seen in the last photo, which sold through Lang’s Auction on October 22, 2015. Gold and blue examples have also been reported. Because there is no documentation on any of these different colored models, it can only be assumed that they are prototypes, or simply examples that have been re-anodized.
Heddon “Dowagiac” No.P-51. Made by Bronson?
The origins of the No.P-51 reel from Heddon has been an on-going mystery. The jury is still out on the maker, but because the Bronson Reel Co. is certainly one of the possibilities, we’ve included it here. These were only offered in the 1952 and 1953 catalogs. They were of lesser quality than the P-41 model and cheaper too. In 1953, the standard No.P-41 sold for $13.75, while the No.P-51 sold for $9.75. Although quite similar in design to the P-41 take-apart, there are even more differences. Some believe Bronson built them. Some Shakespeare. Others believe they were outsourced to Japan, or even Sweden. No one has been able to provide ANY documentation regarding the maker. We even asked the Heddon Museum in Dowagiac, Michigan if they could shed some light on the origins. Their answer was:
We have been trying to track down people who might be able to help and have not been able to find any information…that was a long time ago for employees and no one can remember that far back…or there isn’t anyone we know that worked then. We have examples of both the P-41 and P-51 in their respective boxes. When examining the two reels closely, it’s obvious that their components came from different tooling, even though they are superficially similar.
Since all of the parts are similar, yet different, it would make no sense for Bronson to have tooled a completely different set of similar parts. There would have been no cost savings by doing that. If anything, it would make the P-51 more expensive, not less expensive. In 1952 the msrp (manufactured suggested retail price) for the P-51 was $9.75 and $13.75 for the P-41. It’s interesting to note that the P-51 box says “Built by the makers of America’s most famous bait.”
Since Heddon had not built a casting reel since about 1930, it seems to be a reasonable assumption that they imported the components from a low cost provider and “built” the reels in Dowagiac from those imported components. We have no documentation for any of these presumptions nor do we have any documentation for a country of origin for these parts. They could well have come from Japan but Heddon was also importing some early spinning reels from Sweden, so that should probably be considered as well.
We hope this has been helpful, Don
Heddon Museum, Don & Joan Lyons
We would like to thank Don and Joan Lyons of the Heddon Museum for all their help with this information. Photos below are courtesy of Mark Williams.
Heddon “Pro Weight Pal” Model 25 and Model 26 by Bronson
The Heddon Pal “Pro Weight” models were first supplied by Bronson in 1964. They were both quality reels and today are highly desired by collectors. These were very lightweight level-winding reels built of gold anodized aluminum and came equipped with an aluminum spool and Bronson’s Lashless-style A-B-L switch on the tail plate.
The first series of photos below show the No.26, which was the standard spool 100 yd. version. The last photos show the No.25, which was a narrow spool 75 yd. model designed for tournament casting. Besides the narrow spool, it has a large aluminum arbor and hollowed-out gears to reduce weight. The No.26 would sell through the 1969 season, while the No.25 would last be seen in catalogs in 1967. The pictures are courtesy of Picker Jim and Wayne Benson.
“Hiawatha” No.6565 Reel by Bronson
The “Hiawatha” No.6565 reel was supplied to and sold through Gambles Hardware and Auto Supply of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gambles was a large conglomerate that ended up buying out Western Auto Supply. The reel has engraved side plates with two fishermen in a boat fishing. These jeweled level-winds were built shortly before and/or just after WWII.
“Hiawatha” No.6526 by Bronson
This second model “Hiawatha” is their level-winding economy version, with stamped metal unpillared foot. Does have the A-B-L switch on the tail plate. Sold through Western Auto Stores.
“Hiawatha” No.6515 by Bronson
A third version of Western Auto’s Bronson-built “Hiawatha” has been found. This post-war level-wind, with pillared foot, is much like Bronson’s “Lashless” model. It doesn’t have the ornate engraving and the model and number are stamped on the face plate. The original box is also shown below.
Horrocks-Ibbotson No.103 by Bronson
The No.103 from Horrocks-Ibbotson Co. of Utica, N.Y. was simply Bronson’s No.2700 “Junior” side mount reel sold in an H-I box. Likely indistinguishable from the Bronson version, as these were never originally marked with a model number. The original listing shown below is from the 1932 Horrocks-Ibbotson catalog. Just like Bronson’s, these were sold by the dozen for 15 cents each.
Horrocks-Ibbotson No.233 by Bronson
Identical to the No.2500 “Bronco” single action utility reel from Bronson’s regular lineup, be renumbered for sale through Horrocks-Ibbotson. The photo below is the original listing from Horrocks-Ibbotson’s 1932 catalog.
Horrocks-Ibbotson No.235 by Bronson
Another single action utility trade reel that Bronson supplied to Horrocks-Ibbotson Co., this one identical to Bronson’s regular No.2600 “Trout” model. The original listing for this reel, from the 1932 Horrocks-Ibbotson catalog, can be seen below. So far, none of these three reels supplied to Horrocks-Ibbotson has ever been identified. One would have to find them in an H-I marked box to know for sure, as none of these three examples was ever stamped with either a Bronson or H-I model number.
“Huckleberry Finn” No.4340 by Bronson
The No.4340 “Huckleberry Finn” was an economy non level-winding model that would have been sold through numerous retailers across the country. These have an non-pillared foot and some colored knobs made of hard rubber that we have not seen before on any other model. Shown below is the scarce original box, which carries a 1937 patent assigned to Bronson for an internal gear design. These can be a tough find for collectors. We also show a Bronson “Huck Finn” Fishing Combo on another page of this website, under the “Closed Face Spinning Reels and Unispins” link.
“Imperial” No.806 by Bronson
The No.806 “Imperial” models were supplied to and sold exclusively by the Canada Needle & Fishing Tackle Co. LTD of Toronto, Canada, who owned the registered “Imperial” brand name. These jeweled level-winding reels are a tough find, especially with the scarce box shown below. These were made prior to WWII. Pictures are courtesy of Arne Soland.
Jamison “Practical” No.800 by Bronson
These were built by Bronson for the W. J. Jamison Co. Made in the “tear drop” shape, jeweled and with aluminum side plates. Has the adjustable A-B-L knob on the face plate and is stamped with numerous drag settings all around the dial. Mottled plastic head plate spacer and satin finish. These are very unusual, as well as beautiful and should be considered quite scarce. Produced in the mid to late 1930’s.
Jamison No.850 Reel by Bronson
Another mid 1930’s “tear drop” example supplied to W.J. Jamison Co. of Chicago., the No.850 model is similar to the No.800, but without an A-B-L switch or plastic spacer head plate spacer. Chromium plated. Not near as scarce as the “Practical” model above. A nice example of the original box is shown below.
“JayaR” No.33 and No.20 by Bronson
These jeweled level-winding reels were produced for J & R Auto, likely just before the war. They have the same fishing scene as the Spiegel’s No.20 reel and a few other trade reels. Equipped with the face plate-mounted A-B-L switch and a cheaper stamped (un-pillared) foot. Shown below is the original box, a very tough find. Photos are courtesy of Anne Cavenar.
“JayaR” No.22 by Bronson
This is the plain (un-engraved) version of the reel above. The scarce original box is shown below.
“J.C. Higgins” by Bronson
Sears brand name reel. See the “Bronson Reels Made For Sears” link at the top-right of the page.
“Kast Master” by Bronson
These would have been supplied and sold through any number of retailer. This jeweled level-wind has the Art Deco “leaf” design seen on so many of Bronson’s reels. All examples we have seen so far have the “39” date code stamped under the foot (1939). The scarce original box is shown in the last photo.
“Keystone Crown Quality” by Bronson
This is another model supplied to and sold exclusively by the Edward K. Tryon Co. of Philadelphia. Very similar in design to the common No.2800 “Biltwell”, but a very tough find for the collector. Circa early to mid 1930’s. Pictures are courtesy of Arne Soland.
“King” by Bronson
This is another level-wind reel with an engraved “fishing scene” seen on other Bronson trade models. It was built in 1941, as evidenced by the “41” date stamp under the foot. A nicely jeweled reel with a pillared foot and could have been sold by multiple retailers. Probably produced for only one year and should be considered scarce. Photos courtesy of Scott Truex.
“Kingfisher” by Bronson (Type 1)
Yet another trade reel supplied to Edward K. Tryon Co. of Philadelphia and also virtually identical to Bronson’s No.2800 “Biltwell”. Tryon owned the trademarked “Kingfisher” brand name. Also from the early to mid 1930’s. Reel is shown in Karl White’s book of reels, volume 2 page 176. Pictures are courtesy of Karl and Beverly White.
“Kingfisher” by Bronson (Type 2)
Another “Kingfisher” model built for Edw. K. Tryon Co. These were also from the early to mid 30’s and, except for the branding, were nearly identical to the earlier No.3600 “Commander” from Bronson’s regular line-up. A jeweled level-wind of much better quality than the “Kingfisher” listed above. These should be considered scarce, as the example below is the only one we’ve seen.
“Kussnomore” by Bronson
This was supplied to the Edward K. Tryon Co. of Philadelphia, probably around the late 1920’s. Very similar to the Bronson Modern No.100, except it has a pillared foot. These should be considered quite scarce. Tryon’s ad is shown below, along with the only example we’ve ever seen. Ad pictures are courtesy of Skip Brooks and Jim Garrett.
“Lakeside” No.585 by Bronson
These “take-apart” trade reels were produced by Bronson for the Abbey & Imbrie Co. of New York. Produced from the mid 1930’s until WWII, the “Lakeside” can be found with both an engraved and plain tail plate, both of which can be seen below. These were economy level-winding reels, very similar to the Bronson “Comet” from their regular line of reels, with coin-slotted screws on the face plate for quick take-down without any tools. Also shown below is the original box.
“Latno” No.3620 by Bronson
A beautiful trade reel built by Bronson for Cullum & Boren Sporting Goods, Dallas, TX. These were virtually identical to Bronson’s “Commander” No.3600, with the engraved Art Deco “wave” design on the side plates and crank handle. These were produced in the mid to late 1930’s. These should also be considered scarce.
“L.L. Bean” by Bronson
Bronson produced these trade reels for the venerable Maine sporting goods retailer. They were quality level-winding reels and have some different jeweled end caps that we have not seen before. It also has the Art Deco “wave” design on the crank handle and around the head plate rim, as well as a face plate-mounted A-B-L switch. The leather thumb brake shown on the example below was a fisherman’s add-on. The reel is stamped with the “37” date code on the bottom of the foot, for 1937.
“Longfellow” No. CR 2000 by Bronson
Bronson produced this trade reel for Longfellow Products Inc. of Fraser, Mich. These were post-war reels, probably early to late 1950’s, with the Lashless-style anti-backlash control switch on the tail plate. A beautiful example, with the original box, is courtesy of Scott Truex.
“Meadow Brook” by Bronson
Sears brand name. See the “Bronson Reels Made For Sears ” link at the top-right of the page.
“Miles Bay” No. V-7355 by Bronson
These were economy reels built for sale through Western Auto Supply, sometime after WWII. The first three photos are courtesy of Larry Stivers. The last photo shows the original box.
“Mohawk” by Bronson
This is the earliest version of the “Mohawk” trade reel produced by Bronson, this one from around 1932 or 1933. They were virtually the same as the jeweled Commander No.3600 from the same years and would have been sold through any number of retailers. They were housed in the beautiful Art Deco box, shown below. These pre-dated the later Mohawk models that Bronson would supply to Sears.
“Mohawk Zephyr Wate” No. 312.3600A Model 37 by Bronson
Later Sears brand name version. See the “Bronson Reels Made For Sears” link at the top-right of the page.
“Montague Clipper” by Bronson
Made for Montague Rod & Reel Co. in the mid-1930’s. These were virtually identical to Bronson’s “Aetna” model from their regular reel line-up. Reel carries Montague’s oval logo stamped into the tail plate. Photos courtesy of Mark Williams.