Well, I got some terrific feedback yesterday to the choices of our panel of experts. I have to once again thank all of them for taking the time and effort to make some very informed (and informative) choices. While I don’t pretend to the level of expertise of this blue-ribbon panel, I did find ten items of particular interest in the upcoming Lang’s auction.
Item #2: Rare Early Exceptional Mother of Pearl Trout Reel. Simply a gorgeous piece, with just the most amazing eye appeal of any item (to me) in the auction. How incredible. A question was raised about whether it was simply a raised-pillar reel with abalone sideplates put on later; Dean Smith, who has held this reel, claims that it is of the quality of a Vom Hofe reel all the way throughout. I just hope whoever buys it appreciates it!
Item #104: Fabulous RARE 7' Gillum DeLuxe Fly Rod. I really love the fairy wands—the short fly rods—and few made them as well as Pinky Gillum. With a total lifetime output around 2000 rods, Gillum rods are rare to begin with. Having learned his craft from the master E.W. Edwards, he created a series of rods that are a wonder to behold. This is an exceptional item from one of the great rodmakers of all time.
Item #221: Norman Maclean Owned Flies. I am not a collector of celebrity-owned fishing tackle, but I would make an exception for Norman Maclean, the erstwhile University of Chicago literature professor more famous for writing A River Runs Through It. Actually, although he only wrote a very small number of works, the more famous one is not his best book—pick up Men and Fire one day and marvel at a true wordsmith at the top of his craft. This lot is basically Maclean’s fly box. There’s a lot of history in it.
Item #606: Manuscript for A Book of Trout Flies by Jennings. As an old bookhound, I am always attracted to the books in any auctions. Lang’s is carrying a dizzying array of Derrydale books, which need no introduction to sporting book collectors. However, this is the book for me—the original working manuscript of Jennings’ A Book of Trout Flies. I like nothing better than seeing what changes and edits were made by great authors at the last minute, and this would be a blast to go through.
Item #1057: Rush Tango Flyrod Lure 6 Pack Box. I don’t collect display boxes, but I have a few and this one caught my eye. It’s not as rare as, for example, the South Bend Trout Oreno 12-pack, but it is nonetheless a beautiful example. There are a bunch of great Rush lures in this auction, and this is one of the best.
Item #1520: Scarce Dame, Stoddard & Kendall Reel. There are many reels more expensive than this one in this auction, but as a trade house guy I like this reel. It fits my bill: reasonably priced, reasonably old, reasonably scarce. Dame, Stoddard & Kendall was an old Boston trade house and this reel dates from around 1900.
Item #1626: Hawks & Ogilvy Brass Ball Handle Reel. Unless you are among those people who have collected 19th century reels for a decade or more, it can be difficult to ascertain whether any particular reel was made in 1880, 1900, or 1920 (many styles were continued almost unchanged during this period). One way to be certain is to know your trade names; Hawks & Ogilvy underwent a name change in 1893, meaning this reel is the real deal: pre-1893. A great piece of truly old New York tackle.
Item #1673: Hardy Zane Grey Big Game Reel with Case. In an auction with so many great Zane Grey owned pieces, it is a bit ironic that the one I selected wasn’t owned by Zane Grey. Still, I thought this Hardy Zane Grey big game reel would look great in a display case. It is one of the finest reels of its kind ever made.
Item #2173: RARE Hosmer Mechanical Frog Lure in Box. With Don Wheeler’s book on frog lures imminent, I would be remiss to not mention the Holy Grail for Frog Lure Collectors (not counting the James Heddon frog): the Hosmer Mechanical Frog. After reading the terrific article about the Hosmer in the outstanding NFLCC Magazine, complete with Dudley Murphy’s amazing photos, I was hooked on this lure. Who wouldn’t love it? Any lure that is THAT complicated is a thing of true beauty.
Item #2436: Scarce T.H. Bates Serpentine Lure. Fishing tackle made in America dating from the 1850s rarely comes to market. Here is an example of a true American classic, made by the British immigrant Bate family. The son-in-law of Thomas H. Bate was none other than William Mills, who took over after his father-in-law’s death and changed the name of the firm to the more familiar William Mills & Son. This piece drips early American tackle history from every pore.
Well, that’s it folks! Over the next two days I’ll post on the Lang’s results, so keep an eye out. I’m sure there will be some great surprises for us all.
-- Dr. Todd