Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Voices from the Past: William Heddon & William Stolley Bash Bronson (1928)



Bill Sonnett posted these several years back and I loved them, so with his permission (and credit to the Heddon Museum which owns the originals of these letters) here are two letters of great interest to reel collectors.

The first deals with William Heddon's opinion of Bronson made Heddon reels. Bill wrote: "Seeing Bronson-made Heddon reels reminds me of a letter that I came across at the Heddon Musuem which was written July 8th 1928 by William Heddon in Florida. He was writting to William Stolley, the plant manager, concerning Bronson-made Heddon reels that Stolley had send him to try out. Needless to say the portion I will quote here was not for the public's eyes.

"I am sending herewith one of our Meisselbach made reels (this was corrected by William Stolley in a reply that the reels were in fact made by Bronson, not Meisselbach) which was my choice of the 3 sent to me in Florida. You will note that was unable to turn down the crank screw tight enough with the fingers to keep it from backing off, so at Jack's (Jack Welch) suggestion, I cut a slot in same so I could use a screwdriver. Now the reel operates so poorly, especially is so rough in the gears and noisey, I claim no one but a "clodhopper" as you'd say who had never seen another reel would tolerate it. Preferably, take it out and fish with it and if you can't do that try it from the shore with a bait and have your mind on the reel rather than something you are trying out and advise me if you would pick it up dead in the road. Be sure and unscrew the crank and tighten it with your fingers and you will note that if you put any punch in your work it will loosen. If any of these make of reels are what you call worth the price we are asking when compared with Shakespeare or especially Pflueger at the same price , please send me one. Are you aware that positively the best level winding reel at any price is the Pflueger Supreme..."

Bill wrote in a follow up: "In answer to the above posted letter from William Heddon, William Stolley had this to say in his reply."

"The reel you returned and of which you complained was made by McMahon of Bronson Michigan and not by the Meisselbach people as you stated. This past season while up in Canada fishing, I tried out the McMahon reel, the same breed of which you returned, the one in question, and right off the bat, will say that it is one of the poorest reel contraptions I ever fished with. I told Charlie [Heddon] who was in the same canoe with me, that I would not give three whoops in hell for a cartload of them.

I am perfectly satisfied that this McMahon reel has given James Heddon's Sons not only one but two very pretty black eyes. It is a disgrace for our house to send out such truck considering the price we ask for them. May state that of course we have dropped all consideration of future McMahon reels on our program for the coming year, but have now tied up for a 10,000 contract with the Shakespeare Company.

You know "Shake" has always had a pretty good reputation when it comes to quality in mass production reels. I think that the Shakespeare product will give far better satisfaction than the McMahon stuff, but possibly would not prove quite as satisfactory as a reel of simular value produced by the Enterprise Comapny. We tried the Enterprise company but impossible to interest them in any proposition to build and supply us with a jobbing reel, so we had to take Shakespreare."


I find it fascinating that Pfluger refused Heddon on any terms to make them a reel. Perhaps they were in too much direct conflict, but more likely it would have sent the hundreds of wholesalers for whom Pflueger already made reels into a tizzy.

Awesome stuff! Thanks to Bill and the Heddon Museum for sharing.

-- Dr. Todd

1 comment:

William said...

My grandfather had a colorful sense of language. Thanks for the post. WS