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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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