This is one of my all time favorite ads. It appeared in Recreation Magazine in April of 1901. Apparently William Shakespeare felt some of his clientele could not read all that well so this picture story/ math problem addressed some of those concerns. This also illustrates to the non-believer just how early the aluminum Revolution and Worden Bucktail Revolution came upon the scene. I wonder what a modern advertising agency executive would say today if presented with this ad for approval by one of his artists.
Thursday Review: A New Mitchell Reel Collector's Forum
There are a lot of good web sites on the internet for Mitchell collectors. A new forum called Mitchell Mates, launched about two months ago, promises to be one of the best resources for the history of Mitchell, the most popular reel in the world.
Mitchell Mates, the brainchild of fishing historian Wallace Carney, is a nifty new forum on all things Mitchell. While still in its infancy, and likely to add a few forums in the future, it already has forums on general interest, servicing Mitchell reels, Mitchell Franken-Reels and Look-A-Likes, Conolon NARMCO Fiberglass rods, old movies on Garcia-Mitchell-Abu-Conolon, Articles, and a wish list. A pretty impressive list of places for anyone looking for ABU-Mitchell information.
One of the things that strikes me as interesting about this forum -- and Mitchell reel collectors in general -- is the massive interest globally these reels command. Users from almost every corner of the globe frequent Mitchell Mates, and are ready to offer answers on any number of questions. I recently queried the body politic on Abu-Garcia leather bags. I got a ton of useful information in the blink of an eye.
Wallace Carney's "Mitchell Mates" is a Yuku forum open to anyone, although only members can post. Membership (like other similar Yuku homes like the Classic Fly Rod Forum and Fiberglass Flyrodders) is open to anyone, as long as they follow a few rules.
You can access this forum by clicking here. I've always fished Mitchells (300 and 308s) so they hold a special place in my heart. Additionally, I've run across interesting information on Mitchell in my research that I'll be uploading there soon. You'll definitely want to bookmark this site; if you buy any tackle, you'll certainly be running across some Mitchells, and the Mates can help you separate a $30 Mitchell from a $300 one.
This awesome piece by The New York Times outdoor writer Oscar Godbout is one of the funniest during his ten year tenure at the august newspaper. In it, Oscar takes a good-natured shot at Ted Williams, noted Red Sox outfielder and angler. It ran in the spring of 1962.
Engravers get the Blame in Mysteries of Keeper Ring and Dropper Fly
by Oscar Godbout
It appears as if some outstanding fishermen are having a bit of trouble with pictures these days. Ted Williams, the lean and even-tempered baseball player turned outdoorsman, is one example. The Orvis fishing tackle people in Vermont are another.
Williams is currently looking rather silly in at least one national outdoors magazine, Sports Afield. Williams now makes a living tellings Sears, Roebuck & co., how to blow a clear publicity bugle over its fishing and hunting hardware.
In the April issue of Sports Afield the former slugger has a full color page to himself with rich, flowing prose telling how the company developed a "better bait casting reel -- Thanks to Ted Williams." The text goes on recounting all the technical and important things he advised them to do to get a "remarkable" reel.
Half the page is a picture in glorious color of Williams intently handling the reel, which is on a casting rod. The line is carefully threaded through the keeper ring.
Now, even the rawest beginner knows the keeper ring is for keeping hooks in and lines put through there just won't cast.
Oh, it's a terrible sight, that line-filled keeper ring, and fishermen turn their faces away in embarrassment. But poor Ted had a spitball thrown at him, it seems, for the line was never really through the keeper ring at all, he says.
In another magazine, he explains that a photographic retoucher--a non-fishing retoucher--came on the photo, saw the line outside the keeper ring and carefully retouched is inside the ring. So that's Williams story and it's a good one. I, for one, will swallow it hook, line, sinker and keeper ring.
The only thing is, in Outdoor Life, the same picture shows Williams with the line outside the keeper ring. Was this a re-touching? At this point, it's all to complicated to keep up with, but the next time I see him on a stream I'm going to check his keeper ring.
As a child, I remember sneaking in the back door of the Orvis factory in Manchester, Vt., to ask if they had any free sampels of their fishing rods. It was a good try, but all I got was a free sample of a catalogue as I was shown the door.
The cover of the catalogue was a memorable color reproduction of a brook trout, hooked and leaping on a leader with a dropper fly attached. It was lovely, just like the brookies one would catch in the Battenkill. The scene was and is the Orvis trademark.
The latest Orvis catalogue explains that the picture was painted in 1874 by S.A. Kilbourne for "Game Fishes of the United States," published by Scribner's in 1879. sometime before 1890 Charles F. Orvis, the founder, commissioned a wood block engraving of the original painting for a trademark. It has been on almost all catalogues and the dropper fly always showed clearly.
The Orvis people have now come by the original Kilbourne color litho, reproduced on the current catalogue, and the dropper fly is missing. Now they are asking if any one has seen the original of the cover color litho or the original Orvis engraving to solve the mystery of "what happened to the dropper fly."
I have a theory about it. The retoucher who fiddled with Ted Williams line had a grandfather, also a retoucher, who didn't like dropper flies.
Mid Barbour was the queen of the river rats...a man collects lost bobbers...debate over the saltwater angler's license...silver kings light up the Gulf...fishing Argentina, NY Times style...a fishing hat weaves a story...a fluke opener...where did the 'cudas go?...a history of A.H. Johnson Department Store (purveyors of tackle)...the Bait man cometh...Maltese anglers up in arms...babes on the bay...wounded vets taught to fly fish...it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!
The Big Lead: The Life and Times of Mid Barbour, Queen of the river rats.
Today you may be expecting the News of the Week. However, here at Fishing for History we never work on Memorial Day. Instead, I want everyone to reflect on the meaning of this holiday. For too many, it is just a convenient day off from work. But the reality of the matter is that this is a day when everyone should reflect on what it means to be an American.
As I was driving through Indianapolis yesterday on my return trip back home, I looked up in the sky and saw four planes flying in formation. It was the Blue Angels, getting ready for their fly by at the start of the Indianapolis 500. As I listened to the invocation at the start of that great race on the radio, it struck me that those of us interested in fishing history have as much to remember and memorialize as everyone else.
It was, after all, Civil War veterans like Capt. Thos. H. Chubb who helped found many of the tackle companies in the wake of that great conflagration that first popularized the sport of fishing. It was men such as Major Charles Conover of the Kansas City wholesale hardware firm of Richards & Conover that helped distribute this tackle across this expanding nation. And it was the host of veterans who, seeking a moment of solitude to forget the horrors of war, turned to the peaceful art of angling by the legion. It did not matter which side you fought on; fishing was the great equalizer.
In the wake of the Spanish-American war, noted firms such as the Shakespeare Company and Abercrombie & Fitch--who hand-tailored Col. Teddy Roosevelt's personal uniform--plied the growing nation with the tackle it needed and desired. But it was really the First World War that transformed fishing. Returning veterans in 1918 and 1919 created the greatest demand for fishing tackle to that point in the nation's history, and a plethora of companies ranging from Thos. E. Wilson (who created a special fund to care for the families of employees at Wilson Meatpacking who were wounded or died in the war) to the ever-present Winchester Repeating Arms Company entered the fishing tackle field with a grand flourish.
Fishing and the Second World War is a subject of great interest and one I plan on penning a significant work on one day. But suffice to say the contributions of tackle makers was extremely valuable, as noted tackle makers made everything from the Norden Bomb Sight to survival kits. One manufacture--Montague Rod & Reel Company--made everything from bamboo ski poles to intricate firing pins for machine guns, all under the same roof. It was not unique. Back home, the tackle makers like Creek Chub and Pflueger continued to advertise, press for the purchase of war bonds, and remind Americans that brighter days were ahead. And in the wake of the war, returning veterans once again kick-started the American fishing industry and propelled angling to a position as the most popular past time in America.
Hand-made lure fashioned by US Navy Sailor during WWII from an oil tin, engraved with various stops across the Pacific.
So no News of the Week today--you can come back tomorrow for that. Today we remember the sacrifices necessary to preserve our freedoms. My father came back from the war and the occupation of Japan to start a family and fish once again. Others were not so lucky and their absence is still felt today. Is it too much to ask that one day every year we remember the contributions of soldiers past and present?
The Sporting Goods Dealer Magazine was often used to introduce new items to the dealers. This ad for the Worden Combination Minnow appeared in the July 1905 issue and leaves little doubt as to when the Combination was featured. Advetising featuring the three and five hook underwater minnows followed in 1906.