Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lang's Week, Part 1

Lang's Week, Part 1

It's Lang's Week here at Fishing for History, and as usual, we have polled a selection of the most knowledgeable collectors and asked them to peruse the on-line Lang's catalog and choose the items they think are of the greatest interest. The respondents were given two provisions: o not list things they will be bidding on, and not necessarily choose the most expensive or flashiest items, just the ones that caught their eye.

Here is a link to the on-line Lang's auction.

We'll lead off with Dean Smith. I've called him the "dean" of collectors before because of his long tenure in the collecting world and surreal knowledge of not just what is rare, but what is historically important. As usual, his list does not disappoint.

Lang's tremendous success is spoiling us with the ability to see such truly outstanding items as Philbrook & Paine reels, Julius vom Hofe Lightweights, etc., on what seems a regular basis. This will certainly not be the case forever ...so take advantage while you can.

My favorite item in the auction is the Skinner 'Archimedian" reel. I've got a soft spot for side-mounts and really early reels ...and this one (Circa 1848) is wonderful example of a truly rare reel. Rare is a word that gets thrown about far too much without justification. This reel is rare.

My second favorite item in the auction is the Edward vom Hofe #5 Peerless in the leather case. In my opinion, Edward vom Hofe is history's preeminent reel maker ...and this is by far my favorite of his creations. I've always thought the Peerless has cleaner lines than the Perfection and as such the most aesthetically pleasing Edward vom Hofe reel. Since I'm partial to small reels, they don't come any better than a #5 ...and you just gotta' love case!

Lastly, I'm rather fond of the Edward vom Hofe Line Dryer...a simply marvelous contraption. For the most part line dryers are purely functional in form and most are rather stodgy looking. The vom Hofe just oozes class. Its a first rate gizmo that is not seen all that often.

A short aside: Anyone considering buying a reel from the Jerry Zebrowski collection, know that those reels belonged to a very special person. Jerry was the genuine article ...a true, old-fashioned gentleman ...the kind this world needs more of.


Jeff Kieny, author of the recently released Patented Fish Hooks, Harnesses, and Bait-Holders, gives us a very comprehensive list of items that reflect his broad knowledge of tackle collecting.

1635: Very Rare James J. Ross 1869 Patent Fly Reel
Now this is one cool reel. I used to collect early brass “winches” from England and I have always admired the early brass NY ball-handled reels. Visually, this rarity seems to contain influences of both. However this one’s not only from America but it’s also the first patented raised pillar reel. Certainly having “the look,” I just had to add this reel to my auction favorites.

1: Collection of 338 Flies Tied by Helen Shaw
While I’m not a tied fly collector, I have always admired and appreciated the best of them; this collection by Shaw gets my “contingency vote.” Should I ever collect flies in earnest, why not start at the top with this magnificent grouping displayed just as they appeared in her book Flies for Fish and Fisherman. The clear pull out displays which match her book’s color plates, all protected in a custom oak case are extraordinary. No wonder she kept it handy right at her studio’s fly tying station.

1410: Extremely Rare Kitchen's Patent Salmon Reel
As a lover of hooks, harnesses and mechanical lures, I’m drawn by an objects mechanical creativity and complications. I also appreciate the odd and the unusual. In the tackle marketplace, it’s the simplest solutions that tended to prevail – ironically, with collectors, we seem to be drawn to the outrageous. This reel just begs to be inspected, touched and played with. If I owned it, I’d need to display it in a place where I could enjoy it daily. I can imagine the delight of the KC gang if Kitchen’s reel were passed around at one of our late night show-n-tells in the hotel.

1828: Rare Pequea Salesman's Sample Bobber Display
Boxed, salesman’s displays just don’t get cooler than this. After rotating it 90 degrees left, I’d display it on the wall in a custom shadow-box. Anyone, of any interest and background, would enjoy the diversity, color and quality exhibited by a very basic functional item – the lowly bobber. Certainly not even close to being among the oldest items in the auction, this case of floats will surely garner the comment “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” For proof, just visit your local Wal-Mart.

1909: Fred Rhodes Perfect Casting Minnow Lure
Ok, so it’s worn and missing the 4 brass inserts/rims? Oh, and it’s shows quite a bit of wear…in this condition-focused market, surely these flaws will impact the final value realized. But, it’s dressed in Darth Vader black and over 100 years old. In my opinion it’s a classic among classics. The Perfect Casting Minnow is my favorite early miscellaneous bait. You don’t often get chances to own such a treasure. It’s scars are a part of its overall character – I applaud in advance the winning bidder, who, in this case, chooses rarity and historical significance over perfection. My bet is that he will have no regrets.

621: Rare South Bend Lure Co. Fishing Photo Album
In my opinion, the value range indicated on this amazing item doesn’t reflect its historical significance. How often are the who, what, why, when and where answered on every page? 500 unique stories - 400 original photos from 1923. A time capsule just waiting to be shared with the world, this item may trump them all. As a lover of history, this is my favorite item in the auction – there is literally a story on every page. Imagine the result if some dedicated research time was invested and the results published?


Chris Labuz, the noted H&I collector and fan of President Jimmy Carter, gives us a Lang's list limited to just one item:

How about the H&I sign!

Tomorrow: a whole new set of lists from esteemed collectors!

-- Dr. Todd