Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voices from the Past: Death of a Fly Tying Expert (1887)

Voices from the Past: Death of a Fly Tying Expert (1887)

We know the names of so few professional fly tiers in the Victorian era, that when we can match a name to a firm it is a kind of small miracle. I ran across the following obituary entitled "Death of a Fly-Tying Expert" in The New York Times dated 02 June 1887. It details in brief the life of Michael Morrison, who we can now add to the list of expert tiers from the dawn of the professional fly tying era.

Death of a Fly Tying Expert

Michael Morrison, a man known to hundreds of anglers and employed by Abbey & Imbrie, of Vesey-Street, was found dead in bed yesterday morning of heart disease. Mr. Morrison was nearly 70 years old, and for the last 25 years he was engaged in tying salmon flies, his skill in the arty being regarded as greater than that of anybody else in the country. "Mike" Morrison, as everybody called him, knew all about the habits and tastes of a salmon, his knowledge having been gained in Ireland, where he was born, and in Scotland. His flies were so wonderfully attractive to the fish that anglers were always glad to get possession of them, and he had many applications from enthusiastic fishermen who desired to sit at his feet and learn his art. He leaves a widow and family.

Keep in mind he was important enough to warrant a fairly lengthy obituary in The Times. I would love to see some of Morrison's work, as it sounds like it would be spectacular. If you happen across any Abbey & Imbrie salmon flies--or pre-1875 Andrew Clerk & Co. counterparts--you may very well be holding an example from the hands of Mike Morrison.

-- Dr. Todd

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