ORCA Travels to the Smokey Mountains for 2010
ORCA members presented seminars on reel history, record-keeping, and search techniques for learning more about reels and manufacturers during the annual convention in early June.
The seminars were held in an open-air pavilion down a steep hill from the Adirondack-style Lodge at Buckberry Creek in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Although some members made the short walk down hill to the seminar site, most took advantage of the Swiss Army surplus four-wheel drive troop carrier, owned by the Lodge and used for shuttling guests.
First on tap was Currey Gayle, an ORCA member from Georgia and great-grandson of George Gayle, who designed and made probably less than 100 Kentucky-style reels of high quality. Currey noted the long-standing debate about who invented the bait-casting reel — American George Snyder or British reelmakers in the 1700s.
“I don’t care invented it,” Currey said with a smile. “I know who perfected it: George Gayle.”
Currey, who gave his presentation with his father, Joe Gayle, looking on, said everything he had learned about George Gayle had been passed down through the family. And top of the list was George Gayle’s attention to quality, when he made his fishing reels.
“Never trust your eyes,” Currey said, quoting one of his great-grandfather’s rules. “Always trust the micrometer. (Gayle reels) run like a sewing machine. That is true perfection.”
Currey talked about the era of quality reel making and the later period during while Gayle produced stamped-frame fly reels under the Gayle Simplicity name. Although some collectors might be more familiar with the Simplicity reels, it was the high-quality Gayle Kentucky style reels that were revered back in the day and even moreso today.
Before he died in 1948 at the age of 84, George Gayle produced bait casting reels for seven presidents, with “probably fewer than 100 handmade reels” made in total, Currey said.
“He believed in what he made.”
Dr. Todd Larson and Bob Miller, well-known Reel News contributors and reel experts, gave a presentation on Pflueger trade reels. Bob showed examples of many unmarked reels made by Pflueger and Todd gave a history of how major manufacturers like Pflueger would produce reels, hooks and tackle in large quantities and sell it through jobbers, who, in turn, either sold to smaller wholesalers or directly to sporting goods and hardware stores.
“Who made money off the reel?” Todd said. “The reel maker? The jobber? The retailer? As many as four or five firms had to make money to stay in business.”
Reels made for the trade fed what Todd called a “very predatory market.”
“They’re in it to make money. The trade reel was an item to be consumed and everybody who touched it had to make money.”
Dick Braun, a well-known Zebco collector who recently wrote articles for The Reel News about some rare and unusual models in that company’s line, talked to ORCA members about “Demo Johnsons.” While passing around examples, Dick noted that some Johnson reels can be found stamped “Demo” or “Demonstrator.” These reels were actually loaners given out by retailers to fishermen who wanted to try out a reel before buying it.
Dick showed marked examples of Johnson models 100 Century, 110 Citation, Centennial 120 Lt, Centennial 120 Rt, a Model 80 and similarly marked Model 80 box.
“It’s kind of neat when you think about it. That you could go into the Johnson store and come out with a demonstrator reel for the day,” Dick said.
This was “an inventive way to get your reel into the hands of the fishing community — lend it to them,” Dick wrote in an information sheet he handed out. “A reel for the day to fish with at no cost to them (the fisher person) and end up maybe selling another of your product, which is what it was all about. What a great marketing ploy this was.”
Roger Schulz, ORCA’s secretary-treasurer, gave a presentation on the importance of keeping detailed records and cataloguing your reel collection.
Roger handed out a page from his own reel records, showing how each reel is assigned a number and listed information includes the maker, reel name, year it was made, with the reel has a box, what Roger paid for the reel and what the approximate value is today and the date the reel was purchased.
His spreadsheet also includes: where he purchased the reel, the condition (using the ORCA grading system, from 1 to 10, on appearance and mechanical condition), and space for remarks about such things as the material, size, type of handle, lineage and whether the reel includes patent dates.
Roger pointed out that keeping accurate records helps you know what you have and what you’re still looking for, and it can help when you’re selling your collection. Detailed records also might help a collector in trying to focus his or her collection, they can back up an insurance claim in case of theft or damage; and the records help those who must sort through your collection upon your death.
Craig Barber, also a contributor to The Reel News and a noted reel historian and researcher, gave a talk about researching reels.
“Today it’s probably easier than ever,” he said, “if you have access to the Internet, to the public library or you have a university or state library nearby, you can find information of interest or the start of a paper trail” about a reel maker, a manufacturing company or reels themselves.
Craig cited extensive resources available through the ORCA library and NFLCC library; genealogical websites and records in the many sporting and fishing catalogs, many of which are available online through Google Books.
He also said sports goods journals, magazines and periodicals can yield information, including such publications as Western Field; Forest & Stream; American Angling; and Outings.
Patents and trademarks can reveal useful information and can be accessed through the U.S. Department of Patents website. He also cited many books that have been written about reels and reel makers, most notably Steven K. Vernon’s book “Antique Fishing Reels” (Stackpole Books, copyright 1985), with extensive information and illustrations of reel patents.
— Richard K. Lodge
Registration Form for
2010 ORCA NATIONAL CONVENTION
June 3-5, 2010
To make room reservations, contact :
The Lodge at Buckberry Creek
961 Campbell Lead Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
866-30-LODGE or 865-430-8030
Please use the promotional code “ORCA” when calling or booking your reservations!
Website: The Lodge at Buckberry Creek
* * * * *
The 2010 ORCA National Convention is for members only. For details about the Convention, visit us at orcaonline.org
To Reserve your spot at the Convention complete this form and mail it along with a check made out to ORCA to: Roger Schulz, 160 Shoreline Walk, Alpharetta, GA 30022
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