Some of you know the story of how I was privileged to view and authenticate the tackle of George Washington at Mount Vernon (I'm currently writing up the whole experience so stay tuned). Well, I guess I could not get presidential fishing out of my blood, as not long after I was contacted by the Martin Van Buren Historical Site and asked to help them set up a display of historical fishing tackle.
Since Van Buren was actively fishing in the 1840s and 1850s, it would have been impossible from a budget perspective for them to purchase actual vintage equipment. Besides, they are in the process of rebuilding Van Buren's five fish ponds. So I hit on the idea of having some of America's top tackle craftsman construct historically accurate working models of 1840s fishing tackle. This could be used by the museum in a display as well as demonstrated on the fish ponds.
The Van Buren Museum loved the idea, so I sent out some emails to friends I knew who had much, much more talent than myself. Dr. John Elder from California was entrusted with the task of building a Porter General Rod as well as a vintage tackle box. Michael Hackney agreed to build a period fishing reel with actual horse hair line (and even donate one of his incredible period fishing line braiders). Metalsmith Philip Allen agreed to construct some beautiful period metal baits. Royce Stearns will be making hooks from scratch and tying period flies. As for myself? I've been busy trying to resurrect Van Buren's fishing legacy, which has been tarnished repeatedly by angling historians.
To help educate the public on how such items are constructed we've launched The Van Buren Boys blog, which will chronicle our journey from conception to construction to display. So if you've ever wondered how an 1840s rod, or reel, or lure, or fly was made, tune in every week or so to see the update!
As an aside, the work these men are doing is largely volunteer. They should be commended for helping to promote fishing history to the masses. All tackle will be properly marked with the words "Van Buren Project" and the date so that there will be no chance of mistaking it for original, authentic tackle.
Check out the Van Buren Boys Blog by clicking here! Yes we stole the name from Seinfeld...It will also be listed on the links to the right.
-- Dr. Todd