Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Today's ad comes from the December 1936 issue of Outdoor Life. When saw this ad several things really struck me. The fellow with the new Pflueger Supreme in his hands looks to be fairly prosperous for 1936. The Depression was in full swing with the unemployment rate that year at just over 16% for entire nation. Jobs were few and very low paying. It would certainly seem that few could afford $25 for a new fishing reel.

Supremes are fairly easy to date (especially if you have a copy of Robert A. Miller's THE HISTORY OF THE PFLUEGER SUPREME
from Whitefish Press) and it has always amazed me that Pflueger Supremes from this period just keep showing up in seemly endless numbers. When I was getting started in this hobby (1970's - 1980's) Supremes were a sought after item commanding prices in the $25 to $50 range. The supply soon out-stripped the demand and today prices continue to drop. I have purchased nice Supremes at shows over the past two years for as little as $5. I have a hard time passing one up when I consider what went into its manufacture. The Spool is lathe-turned out of a solid bar of aluminum. The bearings and gears are made of Phosphor Bronze, a very hard and very expensive alloy. It almost seems comical today to see reel makers touting the fact that their reels have "real brass gears." Brass is what was used in the cheapest reels a generation ago.

About 15 years ago I was told by an engineer in the field that it would cost about $180 at that time to produce each Supreme if the same standards and materials were used. I seldom fish with a Supreme, but if I had to choose just one older reel to take on a long wilderness canoe trip, it would be the Supreme. You can do just about anything to it, drop it in the Lake, in the mud, in the sand ------ and it just keeps working.

-- Bill Sonnett

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