Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dr. Todd's Mailbag: 29 April 2009

Dr. Todd's Mailbag

It's time for another installment of the Mail Bag! We get tons of mail here at Fishing for History and we try to answer some of the more interesting questions and queries every six weeks or so.

Dr. Todd,

Your blog is amazing! 

I just read your discussion of the Skinner Spoon, and I'm wondering if I may have stumbled upon an early store display or folk-art endeavor characterizing the famed Gardiner Mills invention (see photos below). The giant lure measures more than 20 inches long and its patina suggests 1930s, give or take. The treble hook is dressed in turkey feathers, and while the blade lacks the Skinner fluting detail, the white paint does seem to approximate the characteristic fluting shape. At the yard sale where I purchased the item, the former owner said it was hanging outside a bait shop in Michigan when he found it years ago.

Could this be a Skinner Spoon novelty? Your impressions would be deeply appreciated.

Bill N.

Well, I have to say that is one of the biggest spinners I have ever seen. It looks like the blade is almost 12" from top to bottom, which is far too large for actual fishing. So I definitely think it is a dealer display item. G.M. Skinner did indeed sell an enameled blade with a similar paint pattern on the front of the blade. However, the striping on the back of the blade is not indicative of Skinner. The spinner is not a fluted, and it would seem logical that any oversized spinner would be an actual copy of a Skinner fluted spinner.

What I think you have, instead, is an unbelievably cool either small maker or folk art dealer display spinner. I've never seen anything like it. VERY COOL!


Good Afternoon,

I have been hunting for the name of a reel I have and some one pointed me in your direction. I have posted as many pics of the reel as I have on here and if you need more please feel free to email me. Thank you so much in advance for the help.

Zak H.

Hi Zak,

Your reel is a Montague surf reel. It first shows in the 1904 Montague catalog as the 6000 series and was sold for almost two decades afterward, in various forms. Yours is the earliest style I know of. Keep in mind your reel is missing a ratcheted screw on handle, later versions came without the ratcheted screw. This model was sold by a large numbers of resellers.


Dr. Todd,

I wanted to send you a quick thank you. I read your blog every week and being a Texas lure collector it is appreciated to see some of our home grown stuff make the headlines.

Also, although many of the items featured and on your “things I would buy if I could afford them” list are items I will probably never see or collect, it is still knowledge that I can use. Friday I was at an estate sale here in Houston roaming around in the garage where I found a tackle box. The excitement built as I reached down and opened the box, to find nothing but misc stuff and no treasures. As I looked around I saw hanging in the corner a boat cushion, and I remembered an old blog from your post about collectable boat cushions. Well $5.00 later I left very pleased and knew I needed to let you know that your efforts are appreciated. I would have never even thought about buying an old dusty boat cushion had it not been for your article. It cleaned up nice and although I am not sure how old collectable or valuable it is, it will now hang in our newly restored and redecorated (thanks to Hurricane Ike) beach house in Galveston.

Mike K.

Ah, Texans. Such nice people. Very happy to help; and you definitely got a steal for $5. For the record, no article(s) have received more hits than the two on Vintage Boat Cushions. I've been working on some history and expanding the section in the near future.

For the record, you can read Part I of the Vintage Boat Cushions HERE and Part II HERE.


This last query concerns the Handle Rod made in Muskegon, Michigan that I wrote about earlier in a post about the Cincinnati tackle show.


I have bought and sold over 20 of those in the last 8 years so I don't think they are uncommon. An interesting fact about them is that the government made them discontinue the production of them after it came to light the process of making/using Beryllium copper caused cancer! The one in your picture is an earlier labeled one .The later ones came with embossed/raised letters in the reel seat. The last models were a cheaper made ones with open wire type line guides.

John W.

Well, Steve Lumpkin also pointed out to me that he had one of these new in the box, so apparently they are not all THAT rare. They are, however, quite neat.

UPDATE: A note from Bill Sonnett: it was made in Michigan, it was manufactured in Pennsylvania. I have only seen a couple that were marked as being from PA. I always envied my buddy as a kid who had one as it was great for long canoe trips. Put it in the Duluth pack while going over the log portages, take it out at the far end and take a few cast into waters that seldom saw a cast. Most of the time that meant instant fish on the line.


That's it for this episode, so keep the questions coming!

-- Dr. Todd


Bill Sonnett said...
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Marcel said...

THis is a great list that i used for my blog to get a few good links to. Thank you!

Marcel recently posted...HOW TO CATCH TROUT IN A LAKE FROM SHORE