This page lists reel maker names alphabetically, along with a brief history and a few pictures of the different reels they made. We are always looking to add information and pictures. Contact the ORCA Webmaster if you have something to add.
MAGIC FISHING REEL COMPANY,
MANSFIELD, G. H. & CO.,
MARHOFF REEL COMPANY
MARTIN REELS, INC
MCVICKAR & SON
MEEK & MILAM
Image of Meek & Milam No. 3 (dot), Frankfort, KY with 12 o’clock unbalanced handle, ivory grasp, possibly coin silver option, courtesy of Paul Manuel.
MEEK, B.F. & SONS
MEEK, J.F. & CO.
MEEK, J.F. & B.F.
MEISSELBACH, A.F. A. F. Meisselbach, the son of German immigrants, designed his first fishing reel in 1885. At the tender age of 20 he received a patent on this reel and then convinced A.G. Spalding & Bros. to sell the reel for him. This reel was a simple single action reel, that we call the Amateur. Demand was brisk, and “Gus” soon convinced his brother, William, to go into the business with him and their Newark, NJ garage was soon humming with machine work. In 1888 they expanded their line rapidly and moved into a larger machine shop. That year they added the Expert Reel, the Universal Rod Holder and their famous line of Spring Bow nets.
In 1896 more innovative reels were added to their inventory, with the Allright and the raised pillar Featherlight fly reels. At this time they also moved into a new three story factory. Sales boomed and soon A.F. Meisselbach & Bro. was one of the largest manufacturers of fishing reels in the country. However, the boom was yet to come. From the beginning, their products were of the finest quality, but very inexpensive. They were all aimed toward the average working man.
In the early 1900s, the Meisselbach brothers patented their most famous product, the Takapart reel and shortly thereafter its smaller brother, the Tripart reel. The initial Takaparts were called “Take-Apart” and were not the familiar tube frame reel that we usually think of when talking about Takaparts or Triparts.
A.F. Meisselbach & Brother finally incorporated in the state of New Jersey in 1906. Until this date they had not stamped their own name on any of the reels or accessories that they were selling. Many of the reels were stamped with model names or patent dates and these are the only identifying marks left to identify your early reels. Sales boomed from 1900 to 1917. There were over 75 employees in their factory and their products were sold all over the U.S. and Europe. They were also in the general machining business and were one of the largest manufacturers of phonograph parts in the east.
In 1917, the A.F. Meisselbach & Bro. Corporation was sold to the Otto Heineman Phonograph Supply Co. of New York City. Heineman changed the name to A.F. Meisselbach Mfg. Co. and moved the company headquarters to NYC. Gus and William retired to the NJ coast and spent their time
surf fishing. William died in 1919, and Gus died in 1927 at 61 years of age. Heineman trimmed the Meisselbach reel line to the basic models and in 1921 the reel tooling and production was moved to another factory in Elyria, Ohio. In 1925 the parent company name was changed to General Industries. Some collectible reels came from Ohio, most notably the Okeh series. However, the great depression of the 1930s brought about a lowering of quality and the great old reels of A.F. Meisselbach & Bro. disappeared from the lineup one by one.
With the advent of World War II, General Industries turned their production to war materials and all fishing reel production was stopped in 1941 and was not resumed after the war. This was the end of the Meisselbach name on quality fishing tackle. It was also the end of the name Meisselbach in the U.S. since Gus, married late in life, had no children. William was a life-long bachelor, so there were no descendants left to carry on the name.
[White, Phil. 2005. “Meisselbach & Meisselbach-Catucci Fishing Reels – Their History and Values.“ Lakeshore Press, Nampa, Idaho]
Research and pictures provided by Roger Schulz with permission of the author.
MEISSELBACH-CATUCCI COROPORATION The Meisselbach-Catucci Corporation was founded in 1910 by A. F. Meisselbach and Pliny Catucci. Catucci, immigrated to the U.S. in 1890. Shortly after 1900 he went to work for the Meisselbach brothers and his talent was immediately recognized. He was a great inventor and held many of the patents on Meisselbach reels. He also held many patents for phonograph designs and parts.
The Meisselbach-Catucci Corporation was started to do the custom machine work business (mainly gear manufacturing) for the Meisselbach’s. The Meisselbach-Catucci Corporation also built and sold the Meisselbach-Catucci Gear Hobbing machine. This company was located in Newark, NJ in a building back to back with the A. F. Meisselbach& Bro. facility. Meisselbach-Catucci was not engaged in reel manufacturing until after the sale of A. F. Meisselbach & Bro. to the Heineman Phonograph Supply Co. When A. F. Meisselbach Mfg. Co. was moved to Elyria, Ohio in 1921, Pliny Catucci decided the Meisselbach-Catucci gear cutting business would expand into fishing reel manufacturing. Many of the reelsmiths from the A.F. Meisselbach Co. went to work for Catucci.
In 1922, Catucci came out with a pair of casting reels, called “Symplopart” Reels; one a non level wind and the other a level wind reel. By 1924 his Stanton Street factory was making free spool and anti-backlash reels as well and in 1926 he added a line of Bakelite fly reels. All the Meisselbach-Catucci reels were well designed and machined.
By the late 1920s the Meisselbach-Catucci Reel Company was one of the major manufacturers of bait casting reels in the United States and
had a reputation for value and quality. The whole Catucci family was involved in the business, with Pliny’s sons William in charge of sales and Walter working in the factory. Disaster then struck in the form of the crash of ’29 and the resulting depression caught up to him. The reel manufacturing division of Meisselbach-Catucci was sold to the Bronson Reel Company, of Bronson, Michigan in 1931. Bronson continued to manufacture the full line of Meisselbach-Catucci reels with no changes. They even still had the Newark, NJ address on them. Some of the Bronson M-C fly reels are stamped “Mfd by Bronson Reel Co. since June 1931” on the foot. Otherwise, it is very difficult to distinguish a New Jersey reel from a Michigan reel.
The high quality bait casting reels became a casualty of the depression, and were dropped from Bronson catalogs in the mid ’30s. The fly reels lasted until World War II, and then were gone when Bronson returned to reel making following the war.
[White, Phil. 2005. “Meisselbach & Meisselbach-Catucci Fishing Reels – Their History and Values.“ Lakeshore Press, Nampa, Idaho]
Reel pictures and research provided by Roger Schulz with permission of the author.
Images: B.C. Milam No. 3 (dot), Frankfort, KY, solid nickel silver with 6’clock unbalanced handle, ivory grasp and tail-plate inscribed 1885; B.C. Milam No. 4 with 12 o’clock balanced crank and ivory grasp, courtesy Paul Manuel
MILAM, B. C. & SON
MILLARD BROS. LTD.
MITCHELL, with permission from Wallace Carney of the Mitchell Museum, www.mitchellreelmuseum.com
Mitchell Fishing Reel History
From the origins of Mitchell in the Arve Valley of France, through its formative years in 1939, to its launch in 1942 and meteoric rise for “30 Glorious Years”, to its place today in 2013 as one of the greatest fishing reels ever made! This is the story of how it all happened beginning in Arve Valley, Cluses, France in the year 1310.
From 1310 to 1937
Snuggled in the Arve Valley by the French Alps is a city named Cluses in eastern France, the birthplace of “The Mitchell” spinning reel. The French word “cluse” means a gap between mountains. This narrow gap is where the birth home is. The city was formed in 1310 when Baron Hugues de Faucigny Clusiens granted a Charter of Franchises, an act of empowerment that sets the municipal borders, the rights of Clusiens, and created
the first form of governing elected officials.
In the early 18th Century an economic adventure began in Cluses when a man from the valley named Ballaloud first introduced watch making to Clusiens. He learned the art of watch making in Germany and started making many variations thus creating many jobs.
Throughout the century, the watch making industry increased. In 1848, the Piedmont government created a school in Cluses for Royal watches called Ecole Nationale d’Horlogerie de Cluses (Cluses National School of Watchmaking) that quickly became the center for teaching the clock making art. In the mid-1930s, Charles Pons, now owner and CEO of Carpano & Pons employed Maurice Jacquemin, a top graduate from the French National Mechanics College in Paris France.
During this same time, a fishing tackle company called La Canne à Pêche located in Angers, France started developing a reel they named after their own company called the C.A.P. They contracted Carpano & Pons for further development. Maurice had helped Mr. Pons with this reel but at the same time he worked on another reel.
Maurice, now chief engineer, believed the could produce a reel that was not just a simple container to hold fishing line, but a precision tool that would cast at a greater distance with precision and be able to recover the fishing line without tangling. After years of research and development, the Mitchell spinning reel was born, a marked departure from the reels of its day in mechanics and appearance.
The revolutionary design incorporated special gearing and a longer axle to accommodate a wider spool between plates. In other words, the reel was designed around the spool. Due to the axle length required for the spool, the classic elongated “egg-shape” body was designed. The oscillation had to be increased by about 30% and extreme level-wind gearing was used. This reel was named after Maurice Jacquimin’s son Michel but French law prohibited proper names to be used as product brand names thus the “Anglicized” name Mitchell.
From 1937 to 1962 Carpan & Pons began production of the C.A.P reel in 1937 and by 1939 both reels were in test run production now called first versions but in fact; they were pilot or test reels. In 1942 the first Mitchell second versions were produced
for sale in France with several minor design changes up to 1946. The Mitchell third version started in 1946 and due to the forthcoming success, clock making was gradually lost and then completely disappears behind this new industry. Export was quickly put in motion in 1946 by Jules Gumprich, owner of Impecco, Paris, an established import/export company with close ties to Carpano & Pons and La
Canne à Pêche and his brother Otto Gumprich, owner of Charles Garcia & Company in America. Otto and Jules had been working together starting in 1937, selling large quantities of Silkworm Gut. Demand was high since the varieties used for surgery and for leaders came in various lengths and diameters. Fishing lines of various sorts were also imported including the special double tapers for fly-fishing and the common braided lines, which were the only ones available for fishing reels at the time.
Other imports included various raw materials such as Lamb Gut for tennis and badminton rackets as well as for stronger sutures, Kapok and other natural fibers used for domestic wares such as mattresses, carpets and so on. Before the war, Jules had sent both reels to Otto with the suggestion they would be desirable products.
Initially the first Mitchell reels made and owned by Carpano & Pons were only made with the Mitchell name engraved but starting in the early 1950s the range grew with models covering both fresh and salt water of various sizes including the new Mitchell Salt Water, the Mitchell Otomatic and the Mitchell Rapid.
Carpano& Pons privately announces the first Mitchell “milestone” in 1955 by celebrating 10,000 crates of Mitchell reels being exported. Each crate contained 60 reels for a total of 600,000 reels!
It was then reported in The New York Times that “Mitchell reels were brought here shortly after WW2 by servicemen” and that “300,000 spinning reels came (imported) here in 1955, mostly Mitchell” and last but not least; “Garcia promoted this reel shortly after invention of mono-filament line”, a profound statement if you think about it!
Carpano & Pons again privately celebrates another Mitchell milestone in 1957 with the 1,000,000 Mitchell reel. This privacy was very well kept! Doug DeSimone, surviving son of Louis DeSimone, only revealed these reels in 2007, 50 years later
By 1958 the Mitchell 300, Mitchell 302 (Salt Water), Mitchell 304 (round body), Mitchell 306 (intermediate), Mitchell 308 (ultra-light),
Mitchell 330 (auto-bail) and the Mitchell 350 (high-speed) series reels were being marketed worldwide. Many other models evolved throughout the years from these original seven, too numerous to mention.
From 1962 to 1978 1962 marked the time of 5,000,000 Mitchell reels being made. In 1966 Mitchell privately celebrated 10,000,000 Mitchell reels sold. The 1966 10-Millionth Medallion shown was presented to Robert Lenk, VP of The Garcia Corporation for his valued
contributions to Mitchell. Bob was Tom Lenk’s Brother.
By 1968 Mitchell was now producing several new models including the big game fishing reel series that had been in R&D for several years. At the time it was as if nothing could stop the Mitchell brand. Every angling schoolboy aspired to owning a Mitchell, every match angler certainly had at least one and many had more!
The sterling silver Mitchell 300 shown was presented to a few top National Agents to commemorate the worldwide sale of 20 million Mitchell reels. The other commemorative reel is referred to as the Mitchell 410 20-Millionth Global and was also presented to a select few top executives.
In a 1971 press release it’s reported by Carpano & Pons that out of 83 counties importing Mitchell reels, The Garcia Corporation was importing 65% of all exports. “Each week, 25 tons of reels are dispatched from Cluses bound for the American fishermen.” This article also states they were currently making 10,000 Mitchell reels per day with 15% of these being sold in France. The 83 countries were selling to over 5,600 retailers.
The Garcia Corporation was a dominant and revolutionary force in the fishing tackle market and purchased “Mitchell” from Carpano & Pons on June 17, 1974. To celebrate this occasion a very special Garcia Mitchell 300DL was made in France and presented to a few top executives. Suffering from over diversification, in 1977 Garcia had to sell the majority stock in “Mitchell” back to Ets Carpano &
Pons and the primary focus was placed back on selling Mitchell fishing reels but it was too late. On August 10, 1978 The Garcia Corporation declared bankruptcy and closed forever.
From 1978 to 1990
Starting in 1978, Carpano & Pons and Impecco had been meeting with various tackle companies to find another North American distributor for Mitchell. This included Browning and many other interested tackle companies including Garcia Tackle, Garcia Canada and Zebco but by 1980, exclusive distribution rights was awarded to Browning. Abu Sweden purchased the Garcia Tackle (USA) assets and most important, the Garcia
name. Distribution of all Abu products in North America moved to Fairfield, New Jersey under Abu’s new name, Abu Garcia, Inc.
Mitchell, a separate company owned by Carpano & Pons, continued suffering from the tremendous financial losses from Garcia’s bankruptcy. This along with the loss of Garcia’s perfected marketing skills, service and pipeline and many other factors led to bankruptcy in 1981. Mitchell was reestablished as Mitchell Sports, a solely owned and operated company who would eventually become the sole distributor of Mitchell reels worldwide.
The French assembly plants started closing in 1988 and though a few good reels like the Mitchell 300 PRO 45th anniversary reel were still assembled in France, most parts were sent to Thailand for assembly. The engineering quality, for which Mitchell, France was famous, and the quality of their Mitchell reels has never been surpassed. They built many millions of reels and there has never been a range of any other major item of fishing tackle, be it rods, reels, lines, that has achieved anything like the same quantity for a single brand and producer. In 1990 the Mitchell “company” closed its doors in France forever. After that and until this day, Mitchell is just a great brand name.
From 1990 to Present Day In 1990 Johnson Worldwide Associates (JWA), a successful company well known for their Johnson line of fishing reels and other tackle purchased Mitchell Sports. At this time they claimed over 30-million Mitchell 300 fishing reels alone had been sold!
In 2000 Pure Fishing purchased the Mitchell brand as part of their JWA fishing products acquisition. Pure Fishing with locations worldwide still owns the Mitchell brand name but has also acquired many other famous fishing tackle brands including Abu Garcia, Penn, Shakespeare and many others. Pure Fishing, Inc. is a subsidiary of the mighty Jarden Corporation, headquartered in Rye, NY.
Wallace Carney – Le bénéficiaire du prêt – on record Archives municipales de Cluses
With Special Thanks To: Florence POIRIER – History of Cluses – Archives municipales de Cluses – August 24, 2000 Groupe Carpano & Pons – 1893 ~ 1993 100 ans d’Aventure Industrielle, d’Eau et d’Electricite Doug DeSimone ~ JP Gumprich ~ Barrie Welham ~ Mike Read
~ Dr. Todd Larson Research by Wallace Carney.
The birth of Montague started in 1881 when Leander L. and Eugene Bartlett bought out the J. G. Ward fishing rod business in Amherst, Massachusetts. In 1882 the Bartlett’s opened a factory in Montague City, Massachusetts to make split bamboo rods. By 1885 they added two stories to the Montague City factory and were incorporated as the Montague City Rod Company.
In 1891 further expansion took place as Montague purchased the Chubb Fishing Rod Company of Post Falls, Vermont, which they operated until the 1930’s. In May of 1899 an agreement was reached between the Montague City Rod Company and Frederick Malleson whereby Montague purchased the Brooklyn, NY factory of Malleson/Conroy/The U.S. Net & Twine Company (take your pick – the exact details seem to depend upon which author you read), at 163 Grand Avenue.
In 1927 the company name was changed to Montague Rod and Reel Company. At this time some of the reel making machinery was moved from Brooklyn to the Montague City, Massachusetts factory. This historic fishing tackle
company came to an end in 1934 when Montague was purchased by the Ocean City Manufacturing Company, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Montague City factory continued to produce fishing rods, but all reels were produced in Philadelphia.
In 1955 the name was officially changed to Montague-Ocean City Rod and Reel Co.
Montague manufactured reels of all types and price ranges. Apparently, with a minimum order, you could have reels stamped with just about any name you wanted. Montague “generic” reels were sold by many of the most prestigious tackle houses – Edward vom Hofe, Abercrombie & Fitch, V. L. & A., Abbey & Imbrie, and so on.
Montague made them all from “Gayle Style” raised gear cover Kentucky reels in German silver, to hard rubber and German silver fly reels that are often thought to be the product of one of the vom Hofe brothers.
Their hard rubber and German silver surf reels are often marked with the Edw. vom Hofe shop name and these are fine looking reels. This great variety of names, quality and types of reels is what makes the study of Montague reels most confusing, but very interesting. By Phil White. For more information see “Montague Generic Reels,” by Phill White, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, Reel News issues Fall and Winter of 1997 and Spring and Summer of 1998.Pictures of the Jupiter are courtesy of Don Champion.
MURA APPLETON CO.
MEYER, LOU COMPANY
MEYER, LOU COMPANY, (Kenosha, Wisconsin) Here’s a case where the reel is more recognizable than the company. The Flo-Line Universal Reel, also known by some as “the pencil sharpener reel,” was supposed to be both baitcasting and spinning. The reel had a base latch allowing the reel to pivot 90 degrees for casting like a spinning reel and return the position then for retrieval. In the retrieval position, it can be used as a baitcaster. The swivelling feature could also be used to make the reel usable left or right-handed. A drag wheel was also present under the handle. One can see now why the moniker “universal” came from. (For more information, see Reel News back issue Spring of 1999.)
MORRITT, K.P. LTD.
MORRITT, K.P. LTD. (England) This company made the Intrepid Sea Streak sold by South Bend from 1969 to 1972. The light weight, ball bearing reel did have some unusual features that allowed for casting or trolling, and was mostly designed for big water. The cast control worked well, the free spool rim button automatically engaged, and a 4-way star-type wheel allowed four combinations of click and free spool. Unlike most larger trolling reels, it was made for backlash free casting with its “Thumatic” automatic centrifugal thumb control. At $50 it wasn’t going to be a hit for long. (For more information, see ORCA Reel News back issue Winter 2000, and article by Gary Quick.)
OAKWOOD PRECISION GRINDING CO.
By 1926 they had moved to 1341-47 Noble Street, Philadelphia, and were producing additional models such as the Striker, Angler’s Pal, Dover Club, Solite and Hermos which was a Meisselbach design bought when the Newark NJ factory closed. They now have Saltwater, Freshwater and Fly reels. In 1929 the Orlando 6/0 was advertised as the finest reel of its kind and guaranteed forever. The 1930s range of reels expanded rapidly from year to year. Late 1934 early ’35 Ocean City bought the Montague Rod and Reel Co. leaving the rod making at the Montague City address and making all reels at the Philadelphia address. Ocean City had their Orlando, Long Key and then the Balboa in ’35 with the Panama in ’37.
In 1939 Ocean City took over Vom Hofe and Co., Inc. and in the 1941 Catalog OC announce the new ownership and continuation of Edward Vom Hofe reels and accessories using the same famous designers and skilled mechanics. The making of Vom Hofe reels finished in 1950.
In 1955 the Montague City rod making business changes name to Montague-Ocean City Rod and Reel Company. True Temper took over the Ocean City Co. which finished making reels in 1968. Research by Ray Hodges. To view more Ocean City Reels visit our section within this website, by clicking here “Ocean City Reels” Reels pictured below of the first OC reel, the 450 yd. Long Key and the 14/0 EVH are courtesy of Ray Hodges, the picture of an Orlando 6/0 is courtesy of Ed Miller and the picture of the OC Big Game No.612 with the factory hand brace is courtesy of Mike Cacioppo.You may click on the pictures to enlarge them!
OHAVER & O’BANNON
OHIO TOOL CO (OTCO)
OHIO TOOL CO (OTCO), This company made the Ashaway Slip-cast reel, an unusual open faced spinning reel that was used on top of the rod. It It was reportedly situated on the top because Americans were slow at picking up on the spinning reel popularity in Europe where reels hung underneath. The Slip-cast has been called the “missing link” between baitcast and spinning. The reel design is credited to Charles Ritz (of the hotel dynasty) and Paul Mauborgne (inventor of the French Luxor spinning reel). When the reel was presented to Julian Crandell of Ashaway Line and Twine Mfg. in Rhode Island, a separate company was set up to avoid some unspecified patent problems. The company was called Ashaway, Inc. for marketing the reel. In 1947, the Ohio Tool Co (OTCO) of Cleveland, Ohio, was contracted to manufacture the reel and received permission to sell the Slip-Cast as well. It was presented to buyers finally in 1948. The reel in its two sizes that went into production in 1947. Both had a unique thumb lever that held the line before the cast. The reel did meet with some success, but when OTCO ran into financial problems productions ceased, and it appears there were no new takers for manufacturing job. (For more information, see Ed Corwin’s Spring, 1998, back issue of ORCA’s Reel News from which most of this information has come.)
OK MACHINE COMPANY
P & K INC.
PECK & SNYDER
PENN REEL CO.
Around 1930, Otto Henze left Ocean City and begun to develop his own fishing reels. By 1932, working from home, Mr. Henze had two designs ready for Patent submission. He hired a lawyer who submitted the patents and he and his business partner, a Mr. George Hunt, started investing their money to build enough production prototypes to sell and distribute on the East and West Coast of the USA. These two reels were given simple model names; one reel was named the Model F and the other the Model K being made in two configurations (FIGURE 1 see below), one with a star drag system and one without. For information on the Spinfisher series, see ORCA Reel News back issue Fall of 1998. You may click on the pictures to enlarge.
During the 1932 production run, over 2000 Model F & K reels were built and distributed all over the USA’s East and West Coasts. The progression of the business was immediate and in 1933, a simple brochure FIGURE 2 & 3 see above) was printed, four reels were offered for sale and the Penn Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company was born. The Model F became the 1933 Sea Hawk (FIGURE 4 see below) and the two Model K’s became the Long Beach (FIGURE 5) and the Bay Side (FIGURE 6). The fourth reel in the brochure, the Sea King was never manufactured; a reel named the Sea Ford (FIGURE 7) was introduced late in the production year of 1933 to take the place of the Sea King.
This is how it all began, working from home in 1930 to a world class corporation today, The Penn Reel Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company has kept a steady progression of supplying fine fishing tackle to its customers at affordable prices for over 80 years and counting.
Research and pictures are courtesy of Mike Cacioppo. Additional Spinning Reel picture courtesy of Jim Madden.
PERRINE MANUFACTURING COMPANY,
PETTENGILL. Albert N. Pettengill (1837-1903) from Ilion, NY applied for a patent on August 3rd, 1885, and was granted patent #361,890 on April 26th, 1887 for his “Improvements in Reels for Fishing Rods”. His invention, primarily formed from a disk of sheet brass and drawn up to form a rim or band, featured a perforated cylinder that formed the spool. Pettengill’s reel was intended to be convertible from a side mount to a top mount reel by way of an additional mount (reel seat) that would be secured by a screw and a pin – the pin to prevent the foot from rotating on the screw – that would attach either on the underside of the reel or on the rim (band) to form a top mount. Photo Courtesy of Jim Schottenham
PEZON ET MICHEL
PHILBROOK & PAINE
Also two salt water reels the Ensanada Mod.ER ( ER meaning Ensanada reel) and the Key West Mod.KWR (KWR meaning Key West reel).
QUAKER CITY GEAR WORKS
RAMODA TOOL & MANUFACTURING COMPANY
RANGER REEL COMPANY,
RAVENNA METAL PRODUCTS
REDIFOR ROD AND REEL CO.
ROCHESTER, REEL CO.
ROMADA TOOL AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY
SAGE, JOHN L.
SARACIONE MANUFACTURING COMPANY
Around 1890, a young William Shakespeare was employed at the Garrett & Lowe Kalamazoo Shutter Co. His ability in design and mechanical knowledge was immediately apparent, but after a few years the company folded. No unemployed, Shakespeare acquired a jewelers lathe and started experimenting with his new reel design. .
To help finance his venture into reel making, William Jr. went to work for a Dr. Yonkerkman as a silent partner in the “Yonkerman’s Consumption Remedy Co.” William took over the third floor of Yonkerman’s building to further his endeavors into reels. The company folded in 1916 when it was discovered that the Doctor Yonkerman was a licensed veterinarian. Being a silent partner in this venture gave William Jr. the funds he needed to proceed with his reel development in his early years.
His first successful level wind reel was built in 1896 and on Oct. 5, 1897 he was granted patent #591,086. With this patent in hand he started “The William Shakespeare Jr. Company” One of his first employees was Walter Marhoff who became his chief design engineer. Marhoff was the designer of the single screw level wind mechanism among other improvements. The first reel was the handmade style C followed by Style B in 1903 and Style A in 1904. They utilized a dual worm-drive level wind system eventually replaced by the Marhoff single system.
By 1904, business was booming. The William Shakespeare Jr. Co. was producing four different models of reels in nineteen different sizes. At this time the company moved from Water street to a location in the Traction building in Kalamazoo. On Nov. 18, 1905 the company was incorporated in the state of Michigan. One of Williams best assets was the art of advertising.
The company continued to grow with the addition of more reel models, lures and other fishing items.. In 1907, the company was upgraded with $30,000,00 of new ”Automatic” equipment. Finance-wise, these early years of reel production was only a break-even endeavor, while his venture into other tackle items and medicine business helped turn a profit. By 1910, the company had one hundred employees with three salesmen on the road. At one point business was so good, the salesmen were called off the road to prevent overselling. It was around this time that Shakespeare started making items for other retailers, including Simmons Hardware and South Bend Bait Co. Sometime between 1905 and 1910 Shakespeare
received his first large order from Simmons – for $11,000.00 worth of level wind reels.
In 1913, the company moved from the Traction building to a building at 417 North Pitcher Street. With the new space and new machinery the company was able to expand and hire more salesmen.
On September, 2, 1915 the company name was changed to the “Shakespeare Company” as they ventured into other products such as automobile parts, war goods etc. By 1916 the Shakespeare was producing twenty different reels and their catalogues contained numerous reels manufactured by other companies, plus many other types of fishing tackle. The company continued to grow with the addition of many products other than tackle items. On August 13, 1921, the Shakespeare Products Company was formed as a subsidiary, for the production of these other products
Production of fishing related products continued at a increasingly quick pace with introduction of new reels and a market for trade reels. An expansion program in 1922 gave the company $100,000.00 worth of new equipment and a chance to better the quality of the reels they produced,
In 1922 Shakespeare started a profit sharing plan for it’s employees, An unknown idea to other manufactures of that era. Bonus checks ranged from $100.00 to $300.00 annually. Another novel idea was put into place where the salesmen sold directly to the dealers, which cut out the jobbers and reduced the price of reels to better compete with other reel makers. This also increased company profits.
During the great 1930 with the depression in progress, From 1929 to 1932, the depression years, the company kept moving. They were able to keep their work force by cutting work hours to three or four a day and paying wages with shares of stock. In 1933 the company ventured into saltwater reels to compete with Penn, Ocean City and others. This line was not as successful as the freshwater line and disappeared by 1940.
In the early thirties, another company was formed to sell a somewhat cheaper line of reels for competitive purposes. This new company was named “The Kalamazoo Tackle Company”. Although the reels were made by Shakespeare and sold by their salesman the company address was listed as being at 241 East Kalamazoo Avenue. The KTC was also an outlet in which to sell trade reels to other outlets and thus not have reels marked as Shakespeare. It is my feeling that this was also done to enable Shakespeare to uphold the motto, ‘Honor Sold, Honor Built’ and still sell a cheaper line of tackle.
In 1939, the cornerstone was laid for a new office building on Kalamazoo Avenue, which became known as the ‘Spearflex Building”. In that same year a great breakthrough came with the introduction of the “Wondereel“. This was promoted as a reel that anybody could cast and needed no thumbing. It became the mainstay of the company for years. Production did stop on 7/31/1942 because of a federal ruling that all non-essential metal items (except for war products) was to cease. This ruling lasted until 1946 and the end of World War II. Even though the production of new items was outlawed, assembly and sales of existing reels was still achieved.
After the end of the war, the Shakespeare line of reels was greatly reduced and their bait line was almost non-existence. By 1950, labor cost and union problems was the company’s biggest concern. In 1952, the first closed face spinning reel ,The #1850 was introduced. This was a big advancement into the product line for the company. Later, in 1959, the introduction of the #2081 and the #2091. launched them into the open faced market. They continued to produce and sell the top line of fishing equipment and offered repair services to the modern angler. By the middle sixties, Shakespeare was starting to spread out.
They had manufacturing facilities in Canada, Arkansas, South Carolina, Iowa, and Hong Kong, just to name a few. The company remained intact until 1979 when Anthony Industries purchased 35% of Shakespeare company stock but kept the
In 1996, Shakespeare got a new identity when it was purchased by ’K-2”, which is the current owner, with headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina. Contributed by Harvey Garrison. Pictures of the highly scrolled Criterion Deluxe and late model Perfect courtesy of Jim MaddenOther info “Kalamazoo, The Place Behind the Products” “Kalamazoo Gazette” 1925 various catalogues, Kalamazoo public library scrapbooks “Shakespeare Fishing Tackle, 100 years of Excellence in Fishing Tackle” author unknown “History of Shakespeare” Doug Steward.
SHIPLEY, A. B. & SON
SIERRA ANGLING EQUIPMENT
SIMPSON, P. J.
SNYDER, J. & C.
SPIRAL WIND FISH REEL CO.
On Spiral Wind, there are more variations than most people realize. Four names….Free, Tru, Long and Spot, but when you start adding in the color variations, round or flat bar levelwind mechanism and with or without thumb space there could be as many as 20 different. Probably as an afterthought, it appears whomever bought out the existing stock of parts ran out of the paddle handles. There are a bunch of Long Cast reels out there without the patented handles and they all seem uniform and stock, as if sold that way. Makes sense to use up the paddle handles on the more expensive models and cheapen the cheapest reel (longcast) with the new, incorrect replacements.
On Hyla F. Maynes, more needs to be said. He invented and has patents for many things, before and after the Spiral Wind Reels. His first invention was a new, improved changeable gear for a bicycle March 25, 1902 (patent 696,349). His last was a hypodermic syringe holder device patent 2,565,081 issued August 21, 1951, after his death. His last several patents were all medical related, possibly due to his own illness? Over the years, his patents ranged from transmission and gearing on bicycles, clothes line devices, body muscle development devices, lantern, mechanical inscription camera, fishing reels, etc., but much of that was funded by his 22 year relationship with business partner, Harry A. Illions. Their business was building and designing amusement park rides including The Caterpillar, The Turtle, The Tumblebug, Magic Carpet, or Flying Carpet as well as others and many of those patents are still being used in the modern day simulated Surf or Surfboard rides at waterparks. As a timeline, I believe the sale of his shares in the business with millions were the funds used to capitalize the Spiral Wind Reel Company. The fact that many of his inventions are still in use and functioning as well as when they were new is testament to how advanced his ideas were. At some point?? 1950’s-60’s, Penn Mfg. started to make the Penn Leveline 350, which in theory is a Spiral Wind reel on steroids. Research by Richard Thomann (aka “FishBugMan”)
BELOW IS A BREAK DOWN OF THE LESS EXPENSIVE VERSION SPIRAL WIND LONG CAST NO.1838, DATE MARKED 1937, ALONG WITH PATENT NUMBERS FROM USA, ENGLAND AND CANADA.
SQUARE STAMPING CO.
SQUIRES BROTHERS INC.
SQUIRES BROTHERS INC. Isle Royale is the model name. Made in Milford, Michigan, circa 1945. Isle Royale was their only model, available in red, green, gold and a rare one in blue. It was a very well built, hand made and machined… no rusting parts. No one knows anything about the company at all, strangely. The company must have folded before the reels made the shelves and the only ones out there must be of the first batch or prototypes. I would imagine them being worth much more than $50 each because these are quality, beauty and seemingly VERY rare!
“One of the flash-in the pan reel makers post war have only found one basic model but this varies with different anodized colors and some differences in handle knob materials,and changes in shape of level wind have boxes but have not seen any paperwork to date have a red[most common color], green and gold. In operation a few years then gone. Reels in working condition are fairly difficult to find.
“Rare ( only one I have ever seen in all my years of collecting reels) Isle Royale by Squires Brothers, Inc. Milford Mich. the reel looks like it has never been used. It is constructed of milled aluminum, even the handle grips, and appears to be a very good quality reel. it has a strong click and a drag/brake (knurled knob inside the handle). The head and tail plates are anodized in a very nice reddish maroon color.
“Only seen pic’s of several of these..all in red.. in 35 years of collecting and being a fishing sports writer.
(Since there is so little known about the company, this conversation from May 3rd, 2014, from ORCA’s Reel Talk message board is all we have and may be a lead for those who wish to do further research.)
STANDARD MANUFACTURING COMPANY / GULF REEL COMPANY
STANDARD MANUFACTURING COMPANY / GULF REEL COMPANY (Dallas, 1946) Spurred by a WWII surplus of ball bearings, R. A Johnson decided he could manufacture fishing reels with his design abilities from his past, so he incorporated the Gulf Reel Company. He took his designs to Norman Oswald at Standard, and the partnership was born. The first reel was difficult to produce and the design was quickly changed a year later. Eventually, things went smoothly at 100 reels produced per day. Reels are found with a crest and two jumping fish on the side plate. The use of the ball bearings was huge for marketing at the time. Model names were New Yorker, New York Expert (a rare narrow spool tournament reel), Airlite, Airlite Express, and Airlite Expert. After a decline in the cheap WWII surplus ball bearings, a merger was arranged between the companies in 1959 and production was stopped. (For more information, see ORCA Reel News back issue Summer of 1999.)
STAR REEL WORKS CO.
http://hendrickreels.weebly.com/star-reel-works.html http://www.antiquefishingreels.info/Articles/StarRW.pdf (Courtesy of Steve Vernon)
STOCKFORD REEL CO.
Mel Stringer Reel Corp. was incorporated in 1935, originating in Hollywood, California. Listed directors of the new company include; Mel Stringer, W. E. Kleiner, Artur F. Larrabee, V.B. Hunt and N.L Rose. More information is needed on this maker of surf casting reels.
STURDIBILT PRODUCTS CO.
TALBOT, WM. H.
TALBOT CO., WM. H.
TALBOT REEL COMPANY, WM H.
TALBOT REEL AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY
TALBOT REEL RICHARDSON
TERRY CLOCK CO.
Image of a salmon-size Trowbridge brass and ebonite fly reel behind a more antique-looking Trowbridge raised pillar reel, courtesy Paul Manuel.
TT stopped selling rods and reels in the 1970’s. They are is still in business today selling their line of garden hardware!
TT has been bought and sold now many times, the current holder of the company is Griffon Corporation, see this site for the history of TT. http://www.amestruetemper.com/about-us/our-history.aspx R. E.
TULLY, THOMAS CO
U.S. NET & TWINE CO.
ULRICH MANUFACTURING CO.
Ulrich Manufacturing Co. were the Makers of the UCO Steelhead Spin-Fly reel. Patent #2,649,259 (1953). One of the objectives of this reel was to was to produce a correct spinning action with all the advantages of inexpensive modifications of a conventional fly reel . It is believed they only made this one model, as I’ve never seen another. Posted for Mark Williams
UNION HARDWARE CO.
UNION HARDWARE CO., was a mfg. in Torrington, CT from 1923 to 1960, sold many different reels, some only the box had the name and number, first picture is a different Samson reel than the next 4 pictures, next is a Sunny Brook, which is the most commonest found and then an unmarked Union Hardware! U. T. K. and Utica were name brands of Union Hardware. Pictures are courtesy of Arne Soland, OR. Last reel pictured is of another Union Hardware. This is an odd ball only marked UH it is an oval bakelite shape and the metal parts are of brass and painted black. It also has hinged jewelled end caps so they will not become lost, very scarce reel! Last picture is courtesy of Jonathan Kring
U.S. LINE & TWINE CO.
UTILITY MANUFACTURING COMPANY
VOM HOFE, EDWARD
Perfection reel picture courtesy of J.Schottenham
VOM HOFE, FREDERICK & SON
VOM HOFE, JULIUS
WALKER, A. L. REEL CO.
WEBER LIFELIKE FLY COMPANY
In 1919 he was hired by James Heddon’s Sons to supervisor their new reel making operations, where he would stay on until about 1931. During his tenure, Heddon produced some of the finest precision reels ever built, many of which were from Welch’s own designs.
After leaving Heddon, Welch started producing his own line of hand-made casting reels, made solely in his basemen workshop. He built both level-winding versions and non level-winding Tournament models, supplying many famous tournament casters of the period. They were of the highest quality, and coupled with the fact that production was very limited (only offered from about 1932-1936), are extremely valuable and sought-after by today’s collectors. Research by Mark Williams.
WHEELER & MCGREGOR
WHITES AUTO FISHER
WILBY, (All-aluminum fly reel, low quality – 1940’s) A 1945 ad in the Milwaukee Journal by Burgharts for sporting goods listed the features of the reel. The reel and box are only stamped “Wilby”.
WILLOUGHBY SHEET METAL COMPANY
WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO
Worden Belly Reel (Yakima, Washington) The Belly Winder reel was first developed by Clarence G. Lindgren of Yakima, Washington. Lindgren patented his reel on November 6, 1948 (No. 2,574,216). The patent drawings and description shows a reel very similar to the finished product. It is unknown at this time if Lindgren ever produced his reel. The belly reel eventually ended up being produced by Bob Worden of Granger, Washington. Warden manufactured this reel and a series of spinning lures as the Yakima Bait Company.
YAKIMA BAIT CO.
YALE METAL PRODUCTS CO.
YAWMAN & ERBE
YOUNG, J. W. & SONS
ZERO HOUR BOMB CO. (ZEBCO)
The Standard reel changed the face of fishing forever, as now Dad could and would take the Family fishing with him as he didn’t have to spend the entire day taking bird nests out of a casting reel. So for the past 60+ years, most of us started out using a closed face rod/reel to begin our fishing fun. We will soon be on our 4th generation of young fisher persons the majority of which will start their fishing life with a closed face reel.
As was stated earlier the Standard reel was the first reel for Zebco then the model 22, 11, and in 1954 the Model 33 was introduced. In the first 33yrs that the 33 was made 22 million were produced. That is a lot of reels and there is a good number of them still catching fish.
In 1962 Zebco bought the Langley Reel Co. to expand its line of reel to include two casting reels the 310 and 330 and several spinning reels. Side note to this: The spinning reels sold by Abercrombie & Fitch prior to 1962 were produced by the Langley Reel Co. and after 1962 By Zebco Co. through the late 60’s early 70’s.
There are many, many different models of the Zebco Reels: closed face, open faced spinning reels, casting reels. And even fly reels. The Zebco Cardinal reels were produced by ABU of Sweden and sold in the U.S under the name Zebco.
(Research and pictures are courtesy of Richard Braun – (The Zebco Guy) and Jim Madden. Also see ORCA Reel News back issue Fall of 2000 article by Paul Winstead.
ZWARG OTTO COMPANY