Saturday, April 30, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Tilden Robb

Tilden Robb

If one were to throw out the following names (which should be familiar to all students of vintage tackle) : Al Foss, Fred Arbogast, William Stanley, William Jamison, Goodwin Granger, Call McCarthy, Bill Phillipson and Tilden Robb and then ask what were they famous for other than having their names associated with fishing tackle, even some collectors of vintage tackle might have difficulty coming up with the answer. The fact is, in their day they were just as famous for being world record holders as well as many-times national champions in the sport of tournament casting. It is hard today to realize how popular the sport of tournament casting once was. This sport was particularly popular in cities where access to fishing waters was not easily available. Many major cities had casting clubs and public casting pools where experts and common folk alike practiced with flyrod and baitcasting outfits in both distance and accuracy events. I've always noticed that the tournament casters that invented lures started with small heavy, easy-to-cast baits such as the Arbogast Tin Liz, the Heddon-Stanley Ace, the Al Foss Little Egypt and the Tony Accetta Pet spoon. No flatfish or other hard-to-cast baits here!

Tilden Robb is most recognized today by the Shakespeare lure that was named in his honor. It is shown here in an ad from the April 1925 issue of Tackle Magazine, which was an advertising instrument of the Shakespeare Company. He should also be remembered as one of the co-inventors and earliest manufacturers of the short baitcasting rod that became associated with the Kalamazoo Casting Club. He went into partnership with William Locher, a prominent sporting goods dealer in Kalamazoo Michigan. William Locher is also listed on patents as co-inventor of the Shakespeare's Wooden Revolution in 1900, as well as the Aluminum Revolution that followed in 1901. When one looks at the earliest baitcasting tournament records, the make of the reel and the rod used is listed for each participant. Over and over the name of the rod used is “L&R”, which stands for Locher and Robb. Today's ad for Locher and Robb short baitcasting rods is from the May 1906 issue of National Sportsman. It features none other than Mrs Tilden Robb nattily attired in the fishing fashion of the day.

-- Bill Sonnett

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