Every great while a book comes out that sets the standard for others to emulate. Marco Malavasi's The Reelstown Guide to Abu Spinning Reels of Sweden: A Collector's Guide is just such a revelation. What Robert A. Miller did for baitcasting reels with his History of the Pflueger Supreme Casting Reel, 1916-1982, Malavasi has done for spinning reels. His work is thorough, authoritative, and above all else interesting.
The author explains in great detail the evolution of the ever-popular Abu spinning reels from their rather humble beginnings (not in Sweden I might add) to their glory days of the 1960s and 1970s to the final American and Japanese Abus. Over 200 different reels are discussed and broken down in an abundance of images. patent drawings, and documents (over 600 images, many in full color).
Of great interest is the author's ability to trace the threads of Abu history across the globe, from America to Switzerland to Japan to Germany. Abu spinning reel fans will delight at the detailed history of Sportex, the German trade house that sold branded Abu reels that for many years have puzzled collectors. Additional history on Zangi in Italy will help illuminate other previously murky areas of Abu history.
An interesting history of Abu prefaces the main body of the work, which takes us from the first models through the Cardinal era to the Zebco period and even touches on a few Japanese models at the very end. Everything from the rarest prototype to the most common models are treated with equal care by the author. Collectors will delight at the photos of cut-away promotional models, tournament casting reels, boxes, exploded drawings, and multiple shots of various reels.
The book is a 356-page trade paperback (5.5" x 8.5") and is full color throughout, something that without doubt influenced the price of the book ($80.00). Although the author is Italian, the work is written in English, and despite the author's declaration at the beginning "I'm not a perfect English speaker and often you'll find errors in my use of this language." I will attest that I have read every single word of this book and not one time was it ever unclear what the author was trying to say. As someone who grades several hundred college papers every year, I can say without reservation Malavasi's written English skills are better than many of my incoming freshman students.
This book is limited to 260 copies, and as I purchased this book over a month ago with a number in the high 100s, I would surmise only a couple of dozen are left for sale. I don't know if there is a web site, but if you are interested in spinning reels in the least, you simply cannot miss this book. Track it down. I strongly believe in a few years, those few used copies of this work that may make it to market will cost you several hundred dollars or more. It is a fascinating read and a great contribution to fishing history.
-- Dr. Todd