Wednesday, July 20, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 16: Henry C. Reed Co. of Milwaukee

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Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.

For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!

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Trade House Tackle, Part 16:

Henry C. Reed Co. of Milwaukee

Today's 52 for 52 entry is an interesting old sporting goods house from the Cream City. I've written a lot about Milwaukee's tackle trade, but I've yet to broach the subject of H.C. Reed Co. Today, we'll talk a bit about this mysterious tackle vendor.

Henry C. Reed was an angler of the old school. According to Emerson Hough--Forest & Stream's "Chicago and the West" columnist--he was a founding member of the Milwaukee Rod & Reel Club in 1898, and served as its first Secretary and Treasurer. He was also a member of the Milwaukee Gun Club, and later was an officer of the Cream City Gun Club, so he must have been quite an outdoorsman.

While he may have founded his sporting goods company earlier, the first reference I can find to H.C. Reed & Co. is 1904. Jim Garrett and Skip Brooks own a number of pieces of Reed ephemera, including the following letterhead dated 1908.

Another happy Henry Hall customer.

Close up of the letterhead.

The letterhead notes that Reed was President and Treasurer and R.S. Baird was Secretary. The firm was located at 392 Water Street, a prominent business location near Pritzlaff and Frankfurth Hardware stores. They appear to be a full-scale sporting store, offering everything from tackle to firearms to cameras to clothes. Perhaps R.S. Baird was related to Chicago's F.S. Baird, an officer in the Illinois State Sportsman's Association.

Reed pops up in national advertisements over the next three decades, but perhaps the best piece of Reed ephemera to surface is a 1929 catalog owned by Brooks and Garrett. Interestingly, this was one of the "generic" catalogs that could be ordered from the national sporting goods association with your own name at the top; identical catalogs including those for J.B. Hunter have been found.

1929 Reed catalog.

The fishing tackle that has been found bearing the Reed name include a pair of absolutely awesome fishing reels. The first is a nifty "top hat" raised gear box Montague trade reel marked "H.C. Reed Co. Special" on the face plate.

Reed "tophat" Montague trade reel. (Courtesy Garrett & Brooks).

The second is an outstanding four-screw Montague Kentucky style reel marked "H.C. Reed Co." on the face plate. This style reel was every bit the equivalent of the Talbot and Meek reels being produced in the 1910s and 1920s.

Reed 4-screw Montague (courtesy Garrett & Brooks).

Little else is known about Reed. It can be assumed that the firm fell victim to the Great Depression, as not evidence has been found of it surviving the 1930s. But there are so many gaps left to fill in.

Anyone have any information on the mysterious Henry C. Reed of Milwaukee?

-- Dr. Todd


Unknown said...

very glad to see your web page on H
C Reed reels. I have the two reels pictured and they are mint. I collect reels and did not know their history. You are correct that they were made by Montague

mardaLP said...

I have his beer bottle opener! He is my great grandfather.

mardaLP said...

His name was Harrison Cole Reed.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

mardaLP is absolutely correct:

Harrison A. (possibly "Appleton") Cole Reed. (not Henry)
born April 22, 1860 in Sheboygan to Assemblyman Horatio Gates Harrison Reed and Esther Maria Cole.
moved to Milwaukee sometime in 1876, where he met Mary Curry Pierce, whom he married in 1885
They had five children, including a 1909 Cornell graduate and a daughter who married into the prestigious Cudahy family.
He graduated Spenserian Business College and worked for the Lake Shore & West RR for a number of years, where he was known as "Harry Reed."
Between the years 1880 and 1900 he opened "H.C. Reed, Co."
died Nov 14, 1943 in Milwaukee at the age 83
He was a direct Mayflower descendant of William Brewster, Edward Dotey, and Francis Cooke.
He is buried beside his wife in Plot 47 of Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee. This information is well-documented and reliable. He is my great, great grandfather.
mardaLP, if you'd like to email me I'd be thrilled to make your acquaintance.