A few days ago the international mail delivered a hugely welcome treat -- the new hardcover book on Warner and Sons and Wyers Frere. For those who don't know, the Warners, English brothers from Redditch, England, created the legendary Parisian store Wyers Frere as an outlet for their goods on the Continent, and in so doing created some of the neatest and most collectable piscatoria in the world.
The books is basically a catalogue of Bernard Defrance's extensive collection. Usually such books end up lacking, as few collectors truly have an exhaustive enough accumulation to fully flesh out a book. However, in this case it was warranted (several pages of another collection are in fact used to flesh out a section).
While the history is not exhaustive it does cover the subject well, but mostly this is a photo record of Warner and Sons fishing tackle -- not all of it manufactured by them. They sold a number of items from other makers through Wyers Frere in Paris (there are some Montague and Pflueger trade reels with the Wyers Frere marking).
And what a place it was! It had all the elegance one would expect from a fin de siecle shop that catered to Parisian wealth and aristocracy. The historic photos are excellent and make one wish to travel in a time machine to visit this most historic shrines to angling.
The book has only a few drawbacks, and many benefits. First, I would have liked to have seen a more extensive rod section, but European rod makers and resellers usually get shorted in such works, so that wasn't a shock. I would also liked to have seen an appendix or two of catalog and other Warner and Son/Wyers ephemera. I think another 30 pages or so of source material would have rounded the book out nicely.
The book itself has an interesting layout -- the first time I leafed through it I thought it was a bit on the "heavy" side, with little room for the photos to breathe, but when I started reading it, the photo-heavy style grew on me. The photographs are mostly exceptional in the Chris Sandford style, and cover nearly all aspects of Warner and Sons tackle.
Overall, this is an excellent addition to any angler's library. It's written in both English and French and was printed in Belgium, with an introduction by noted entomologist and fly angler Charles Gaidy. A casebound hardcover (no dust jacket), it is 166 pages of full color. The only catch is getting a copy -- I purchased my copy from the author for approximately $140.00 on eBay before it went to print, and I am assuming by the fact it is not up there anymore they may have sold out their Limited Edition run. I do not know if they will come out with a trade edition, The seller's name was chatblanc0 and if I'm you want a copy, I'd contact him immediately!
-- Dr. Todd
UPDATE The author Bernard Defrance emailed me and notes that there are still copies available. They are 110 Euros (including shipping) and you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org -- it is definitely worth owning!