Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lang's Auction Week, Part I

It's Lang's Week here at Fishing for History! The auction catalogs are out--if you haven't gotten yours, what's wrong with you? It's like a museum catalog; the photography is amazing, and you'll see items simply not pictured in any other reference book. Get your copy here. Here is a copy of the ebay catalog on-line, all 2456 items.

With the greatest auction in the world about to take place on Friday and Saturday, we thought that we'd get people in the mood for it by surveying some notable collectors of wide interests and asking them to pick out the items of note, interest, or historical relevance that caught their eye. They had two provisos--not to choose an item they were going to bid on (duh), and not to worry about choosing the most expensive item (the Haskell was not named in any of the responses). The panel of experts picked some fascinating choices, and then explained why. We'll divide them up by individuals.


Bill Muth is an incredibly savvy collector with a keen eye for a good deal. He is also the preeminent expert on Bristol Horton, and the co-author of a forthcoming book on the subject. Muth sent a list of very interesting picks:

Item #689: Zane Grey Owned Iron Shark Hook with Chain. Muth opined “whether Zane Grey owned it or not, this is
cool. Great character.” Ed. Note: Zane Grey most definitely owned this hook.

Item #1034: North Channel Minnow Lure In Rare Box. “If I still collected lures,” Muth declared, “I would buy this one at almost any price. The North Channel Minnow is the perfect bait, with a folk art look and the five-hook underwater minnow style. Combine it with the box - perfection.”

Item #1156. Scarce Heddon Light Six Pack Lure Box. “ just look at those graphics, a great piece.”

Item #1411. Rare Coates Marked Two Speed Trout Reel. “Reels built into rod handle are a great item to begin with,” Muth declared, “but this might be the most beautiful example of the genre I've ever seen.”

Item #1879. Rare 19th C. Ice Fishing Reel Fish Trap. “It's not too often that you see a piece of antique ice fishing tackle that has eye appeal, but this one has it in spades. Beats the hell out of a wooden tip-up.”

Item #2050: Rare Original Oliver Kemp Oil Painting. “Original art from the maker that I collect that I can't afford.”


J.K. Garrett. The seeminly omniscient Garrett is usually in attendance at Lang's, but this year (like me) has to watch from the sidelines and bid via proxy. Here are his choices:

1) Item #2015: Pequea Works Letterhead. "Most collectors don't realize what a large player Harry Kaufman was in the tackle industry," he opined, "from lures to reels to bobbers and other terminal tackle. His products appear in the vast number of retail tackle catalogs of the first half of this century. His impact was enormous. Some day his full story will be told with all his flaws, innovations, blood ties to others in the tackle industry and his legacy. This signed letterhead is just a great piece of history from fairly early in the company's long life."

2) Item #2016: South Bend Peach-Oreno Purchase. South Bend Peach-Oreno Patent Material. Garrett wrote: "Any time you can obtain this degree of background information on a bait or reel it is a wonderful and valuable addition to our hobby. So much information vital to our hobby has been scattered to the winds, thrown away through ignorance or intentionally destroyed, that what remains is all the dearer. Any South Bend collector would be very lucky to be able to acquire this documentation."

3) Item #1904: Rare Pflueger Store Display Case. "That has got to be the all time best case to display a Pfl Tackle collection," Garrett noted, "If I were attending the auction I would seriously consider going after it. I just hope it goes to a collector who will do it justice."


Skip Brooks, one of the truly knowledgable collectors in the club (and the nicest guy alive), also chose three items.

1) Item #1490: Very Rare Leaver's Level Wind Casting Reel. "I think that this is a truly unique piece which appears to be ahead of its time considering all the individual features and capabilities incorporated," Brooks wrote. "It has a quality and beauty that far surpasses what is necessary for its functional design and is in super condition."

2) Item #1656: Lee Wulff Vom Hofe Restigouche Reel in Box. "Seldom do you find a quality EVH piece with its correct box," Brooks declared, "Even more infrequently do you run across a piece which can be traced to a specific owner. These two factors make this item interesting to me, and I suspect, to a great many other bidders."

3) Item 1734: Garcia Mitchell Reel Salesman Sample Case. Brooks declared "This Mitchell Parts Kits is so complete and contains so many quality samples - to include supporting paper and tools - that it stands out for me. It gives you a clear picture of the material a Garcia/Mitchell Salesman was armed with as he plyed his trade."


Dean Smith is as his name implies, a dean among collectors. With 30 years of collecting knowledge behind him, he has pretty much seen it all. Here are his choices:

1) Item #6 Very Rare F. Malleson Multiplying Trout Reel and #10 Crown fly reel. "If I was still collecting reels I would be excited by [these]," Smith wrote."These are the sort of reels I collected and I was never able to acquire either of them."

2) Item #219. Early Orvis Fly Box & Fly Cards. "I've had dozens over the years," Smith noted, "[and I] still have two."

3) Item #1. Edward Hewitt Sparse Grey Hackle Fly Reel. "The most exciting item in the auction, for me, is the Hewitt reel," Dean declared. "I think this will set a world record. I know of one that changed hands privately more than ten years ago for over $50K. I think the Hewitt is the pinnacle of collectible American fly reels."


Robin Sayler's collecting knowledge belies his age; don't let the fact he is an undergraduate at Michigan Technological University fool you. He knows his stuff, particularly Pflueger reels.

1) Item #1904: Rare Pflueger Store Display Case. "This thing is sweet," Sayler declared. "If i could afford it, it would be in my living room next week! Doesn't get much more awsome for a Pflueger collector to show off his stuff than in this thing."

2) Item #658: Historic RARE Original Zane Grey Fighting Chair. "Just think of some of the awsome things that happened in this chair."

3) Item #1507: Exceptional Unknown German Silver Reel. "Don't know who made it but this is a pretty cool reel," Sayler declared. "Looks very well built."

4) Item #1506: Scarce Kentucky German Silver Reel. "Again Don't know who built it, would put my money on Montague though but it is a great looking reel and would definetly have a place in my collection."

5) Item #1503: Redifore Reel with Very Rare Flegel Spooler. Sayler opined: "Definitely my favorite thing in the whole auction is this Redifor reel. That spooler is awsome, I really wish I could afford that one. Pretty much the coolest aftermarket level wind there is."


Jeff Kieny is one of the outstanding collectors (and guys) in the NFLCC. His knowledge of hooks and harnesses, as well as folk art baits, is legendary. Here are Kieny's picks:

1) Item #2. Rare Early Exceptional Mother of Pearl Trout Reel. "Doesn't get more special and unique than this...I'd ask Todd Larson to do detailed research on the acronym 'L.E.D.K. - 1892.' Yes, he's that good!" Ed. note: Jeff if you won this, I'd track it down for you for sure!

2) Item #25. Early Ustonson Brass Reel. "I've been in love since seeing my first 'good' pics of one in Graham Turners classic English tackle book. Exudes history."

3) Item #923. Clark's Expert Lure Store Display Box. "Need I say more?" Kieny asked. "But seriously, it would be a great item to store the following two other items in..."

4) Item #925. Woods minnow lure catalog. "I'd love to hold it and read it."

5) Item #936. Very Early Holzworth Expert Minnow Lure in Box. "Shaffer Holzworth with box and papers. I may have kicked the habit once, but I'm an early miscellaneous collector at heart."

6) Item #2136. The Wiggletail Smith Minnow. "OK, OK, this Smith would fit in there too!"


Chris Labuz, the world's leading Horrocks-Ibbotson collector and all around world class dude, is knowledgable in numerous areas of collecting. Here are his choices:

1)Item #2136. The Wiggletail Smith Minnow. "The bait has it all...just a pure classic."

2) Item #927. The Keeling Musky Minnow HICO Box. Labuz rather crazily declared: "Just for the Stamped HICO only! Keep the bait."

3) Item #5. Billinghurst In the box. Labuz has a legitimate reason for wanting to own this: "If I owned that I figure I could get Jim Schottenham to cut my yard for life."


Don Champion, ORCA's resident caretaker of the Harvey Garrison Memorial Library who holds himself an almost encyclopedic knowledge of reels, offers us the following choices:

1) Item #53. Bi-Metal Raised Pillar Multiplying Reel. "Very interesting use of metal components," Champion opined, "I just like the 19th century unmarked reels."

2) Lot 59. Rare Coin Silver NY Multiplying Reel. "An Interesting reel," Don declared. "I would like to see under that raised back cover."

3) Lot 61. Conroy & Bissett German Silver Multiplying Reel. "Just a very nice example of an early well made Conroy & Bissett reel," Champion wrote.

4) Lot 1676. RARE Kovalovsky 14/0 Big Game Reel. "I'm not into salt water reels," Champion admits, "but the Kovalovsky reels were great! What with all the skill, time and attention that went into making them."


Well, that's it for'll have to wait until tomorrow (gasp) for my picks of what I think is the most interesting and historically important in this auction. My sincere thanks to the eight historians/collectors above for offering us their choices, and some useful information as well!

-- Dr. Todd

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