Tuesday, May 31, 2011

News of the Week: 31 May 2011

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Vladimir Putin, hero to the American outdoorsman???…Mustad accused of pulling fast one in the Philippines...$4000 lamp inspired by fishing reel…Bud Lilly of Montana…the bliss of fly angling…Lew Childre profile…Gibbs Lures are still being made…kids fishing contest is a hit…U.P. tackle man suffering….Port Richey vet sold tackle once…a fishing trip of a lifetime…Hawaiian surf anglers….the Bras d'or fly…Hawghunter Lures gets profiled…it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Vladimir Putin gets fawned over by Outdoor Life author.

Mustad accused of pulling a fast one in the Philippines.

$4000 lamp inspired by fishing reel.

Bud Lilly is the Dean of Montana fly anglers.

The recreational bliss of fly fishing.

Lew Childre is profiled in this BassFan.com feature.

The successor to Stan Gibbs is still churning out lures.

The best pier and surf lures for Bluefish.

Huge turnout for kids fishing contest.

Lew's lands a new head sales guy.

Tackle man in the U.P. is struggling to survive.

Port Richey WWII vet is also a former tackle man.

One man is going on a fishing trip of a lifetime.

A Hawaiian surf angler uses a fascinating bottom rig.

Bras d'or is a killer fly.

Finishing with a Flourish: Two men found Hawghunter Lures, enter the cut throat world of lures.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Memorial Day (Re)Post

A Memorial Day (Re)Post

Today you may be expecting the News of the Week. However, here at Fishing for History we never work on Memorial Day. Instead, I want everyone to reflect on the meaning of this holiday. For too many, it is just a convenient day off from work. But the reality of the matter is that this is a day when everyone should reflect on what it means to be an American.

As I was driving through Indianapolis yesterday on my return trip back home, I looked up in the sky and saw four planes flying in formation. It was the Blue Angels, getting ready for their fly by at the start of the Indianapolis 500. As I listened to the invocation at the start of that great race on the radio, it struck me that those of us interested in fishing history have as much to remember and memorialize as everyone else.

It was, after all, Civil War veterans like Capt. Thos. H. Chubb who helped found many of the tackle companies in the wake of that great conflagration that first popularized the sport of fishing. It was men such as Major Charles Conover of the Kansas City wholesale hardware firm of Richards & Conover that helped distribute this tackle across this expanding nation. And it was the host of veterans who, seeking a moment of solitude to forget the horrors of war, turned to the peaceful art of angling by the legion. It did not matter which side you fought on; fishing was the great equalizer.

In the wake of the Spanish-American war, noted firms such as the Shakespeare Company and Abercrombie & Fitch--who hand-tailored Col. Teddy Roosevelt's personal uniform--plied the growing nation with the tackle it needed and desired. But it was really the First World War that transformed fishing. Returning veterans in 1918 and 1919 created the greatest demand for fishing tackle to that point in the nation's history, and a plethora of companies ranging from Thos. E. Wilson (who created a special fund to care for the families of employees at Wilson Meatpacking who were wounded or died in the war) to the ever-present Winchester Repeating Arms Company entered the fishing tackle field with a grand flourish.

Fishing and the Second World War is a subject of great interest and one I plan on penning a significant work on one day. But suffice to say the contributions of tackle makers was extremely valuable, as noted tackle makers made everything from the Norden Bomb Sight to survival kits. One manufacture--Montague Rod & Reel Company--made everything from bamboo ski poles to intricate firing pins for machine guns, all under the same roof. It was not unique. Back home, the tackle makers like Creek Chub and Pflueger continued to advertise, press for the purchase of war bonds, and remind Americans that brighter days were ahead. And in the wake of the war, returning veterans once again kick-started the American fishing industry and propelled angling to a position as the most popular past time in America.

Hand-made lure fashioned by US Navy Sailor during WWII from an oil tin, engraved with various stops across the Pacific.

So no News of the Week today--you can come back tomorrow for that. Today we remember the sacrifices necessary to preserve our freedoms. My father came back from the war and the occupation of Japan to start a family and fish once again. Others were not so lucky and their absence is still felt today. Is it too much to ask that one day every year we remember the contributions of soldiers past and present?

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, May 29, 2011

1000 Words

Gary Miller sent in this fabulous photo of two boys and a stringer of trout. Bet this was a memory they carried their whole lives!

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Benjamin F. Burgess and the Burgess Weedless Hook

Benjamin F. Burgess and the Burgess Weedless Hook

Todays ad comes from the June, 1903 issue of Field & Stream. Most collectors are familiar with the Burgess Weedless Hook as well as the various spinners that come attached to it on occasion. There are commonly held misconceptions regarding B. F. Burgess, his hook and associated products.

Benjamin Franklin Burgess was the son of William K. Burgess who fought in the War of 1812. When B. F. Burgess was 26, he and his father moved to Michigan in 1861. Benjamin married and lived the remainder of his life in Jackson County Michigan. His only son died at age 12 in 1883. Mr. Burgess held several public sector jobs including Justice of the Peace and Deputy Registrar of Deeds. He filed for a patent on his weedless hook and the patent was granted February 26 1895. The first witness to sign the patent application was Hull G. Sutton of Jackson, Michigan. In 1896 the first listing for the Burgess Weedless Hook Company appeared in the Jackson City Directory with Mr Sutton as President and B. F. Burgess as Secretary and Treasurer. In 1901 Mr. Burgess became “Overseer of the Poor” and the Burgess Weedless Hook Company disappeared from the City Directory. B. F. Burgess was 66 years old at this point. He passed away in 1912 at the age of 77 and is buried next to his father in the Norvell, Michigan cemetery.

In the mean time, in 1902, the Burgess Weedless Hook Company re-emerged under new ownership and went through a quick series of owners before being taken over by Clarence E. Markam in 1904. Markam continued to be listed as manger until the Company disappeared during World War One. Markam also worked during this period as a bank teller and auditor and by 1914 was Jackson City Auditor. It was under Markam's management that the Company developed an extensive line of spinners and bucktails featuring the Burgess Weedless Hook. Around 1912 Markam marketed the Burgess Wooden Minnow. The quality of this bait is so pathetic that few seem to have ever been sold. In 1913 Makam marketed “Markam's Ball Bait” which we covered in an earlier edition of “Deconstructing of Ads” which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

The number of Burgess Weedless hooks found in old tackle boxes would indicate that sales were good around the weedy lakes of Southern Michigan. The plated spinners bearing the Patent date Feb. 26, 1895 continue to catch the attention of collectors today even though the vast majority were made well after B.F. Burgess' involvement in the Company.

Two very early examples of Burgess Weedless hooks with unplated spinners.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Swimming with the Jellies.

JELLYFISH LAKE, PALAU from Sarosh Jacob on Vimeo.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is a pretty awesome 1955 Arjon Commander reel in the original case!

A very rare Varney Central Valley, New York bamboo rod.

Boy this Loch Leven tin fly box is superb.

This 1930s Macy's 5' split bamboo bait caster made by Horrocks-Ibbotson is a sweet stick.

Two foot long pike minnow type is a great display piece.

This is an awesomely rare Shakespeare tin tackle box.

I love this Talbot Eli.

Heddon Goldfish Shore Minnow #730 Punkinseeds are a great find.

Every Heddon Musky Vamp I see reminds me of deceased NFLCC member Peter Haupt.

You don't see these Winchester 9212 underwater minnows very often at all.

A 1924 Heddon catalog will bring a pretty penny indeed.

Instant Collection Alert: Dam-Gerat from Germany.

As always, have a safe and happy weekend -- and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, May 26, 2011

June is Folk Art Lure Month!

I'm a huge fan of Folk Art Fishing Lures -- in fact I have a small grouping of folk art baits that I consider one of my favorite side collections. It's not big, but it reflects what I think is neat and cool about this often overlooked genre.

I was fortunate enough to read early drafts of a really incredible new book by Jeff Kieny--author of the awesome Patented Hooks, Harnesses and Baitholders--on the very subject of Folk Art baits. Jeff has graciously agreed to give us some "sneak peaks" at his folk art collection over the next couple weeks.

As Jeff and I have discussed on numerous occasions, while Folk Art Duck Decoys and Ice Spearing Decoys have sometimes reached $1,000,000 or more for individual pieces (at least for duck decoys), Folk Art Fishing Lures have been virtually ignored by both tackle collectors and folk art collectors alike.

No more! For the first time we will have a bible for folk art baits. I've seen this book from its earliest stages and just last week a proof copy arrived--which I'll review in due time--and I can say it gives the reader a comprehensive overview on an individual folk art lure’s quality, condition, legitimacy and value. The book is published by Schiffer Publishing, who did a wonderful job with it.

So keep a look out over the next few weeks for our little Folk Art Lure festival here on the blog! I declare June to be Folk Art Lure Month!

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 8: A.C. McClurg & Co. of Chicago

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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!

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Trade House Tackle, Part 8:

The Bookseller's Fishing Tackle--

A.C. McClurg & Co. of Chicago

One of the most surprising fishing tackle wholesalers has to be the Chicago firm of A.C. McClurg & Co., a name far more famous in book circles than in fishing ones.

The company got its start as one of Chicago's first enterprises known as S.C. Griggs, a stationery and book store founded in 1844. When Alexander C. McClurg--a recent Miami of Ohio graduate--went to work for them as a clerk in 1859, little did he know that his burgeoning book career would be interrupted by the great conflagration known as the American Civil War.

McClurg was born in Philadelphia in 1834 and in 1862 enlisted in the 88th Illinois Volunteers, was immediately promoted to Captain, and eventually breveted as a Brigadier General. He was Chief of Staff for the 14th Army Corps and accompanied Sherman on his march through the South.

General Alexander Caldwell McClurg ca. 1890.

Upon his return, General McClurg was offered a partnership in the Griggs company, which changed its name to Jansen, McClurg & Co. in 1872 after the Chicago Fire. Under General McClurg, the company became one of the leading book distributors and publishers in the nation, and soon added numerous other lines to its wholesale catalog including, as we shall discover, sporting goods.

1906 McClurg ad from their wholesale catalog.

Business boomed and McClurg even had time to found a literary magazine of note known as The Dial. The company published a number of important authors during this period.

In 1899 A.C. McClurg & Co. burned to the ground (a total loss) but was rebuilt along the lines of a cooperative, with employees owning much of the company stock. The General passed away in 1901, having left behind a great legacy in arts and letters. Although the company was far better known for its distribution, it did hit a home run by publishing the first ten Edgar Rice Burroughs "Tarzan" novels. By 1923, McClurg become a strictly wholesale house, even selling its flagship downtown Chicago bookstore in 1923 to Brentano's.

1927 advertisement for A.C. McClurg's wholesale firm from the Nat'l Association of Retail Druggists magazine.

The company was distributing fishing tackle as early as 1890, and was issuing a separate sporting goods catalog containing tackle by 1900. Marked McClurg tackle is both elusive and mysterious. They surely sold a lot of tackle, but almost nothing is known of their trade names or how wide their distribution was.

In fact, the only marked piece of fishing tackle I've found from this company is a line spool marked "McClurg's Raven" that dates from ca. 1950. It is for 50 yards of 30 lb. test braided nylon casting line. We know they were active in the tackle field well past World War II, as recently a 1960 McClurg catalog came up for sale and it contained a full line of tackle.

McClurg's Raven line spool ca. 1950.

As the company went out of business in 1962, the firm wholesaled tackle for almost seven decades. Surely this one piece of tackle cannot be the sum total of this iconic Chicago firm?

1960 McClurg wholesale catalog.

It is not even known if Raven was one of McClurg's trade names, or just a catchy name used to hawk this particular model of fishing lines.

Anyone with any information on A.C. McClurg fishing tackle drop me a line!

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Louis Paeth: An Update by Peter Paeth

Today, we get an update to the incredible Louis Paeth--the painter of the Fish and Feel Fit painting--penned by his son Peter. It's a great story that keeps getting better. You can read the first article by clicking here.

Louis Paeth: An Update

by Peter Paeth
(All illustrations are copyright the Paeth Collection).
After your January blog entry for “Fish and Feel Fit,” I was contacted by Bernie Schultz who sold me a reproduction of a South Bend counter display of “Fish and Feel Fit” he had in his possession.  It’s quite impressive and I was pleased to add it to my collection.  Thanks again for the exposure your blog afforded me; I’m still hoping that one of your Fishing for History readers may yet aid me with locating and verifying other of Louis A. Paeth’s illustrations and paintings.

As the new year began, further research enabled me to date the “Fish and Feel Fit” illustration to the latter part of 1926 or the early part of 1927.  I’m enclosing two scans of South Bend’s advertisements, which originally appeared in Boys’ Life, now digitized on Google books. As far as I can determine, the “Fish and Feel Fit” man first appears on the cover of this 1927 edition of the South Bend fishing book, What Baits & When, being advertised in the March 1927 copy of Boys’ Life.

March 1926 Boys Life magazine.

March 1927 Boys Life magazine.

I also want to share with you some recent finds in regards to my father’s early art and illustrative career in Chicago. I have been studying the history of The Milwaukee Road Railroad’s 1926 Gallatin Gateway route to Yellowstone Park, looking for evidence of my father’s work in the abundance of advertising material the railroad created to promote its new park entrance, and its Gallatin Gateway Inn, that was subsequently built the next year.

The Milwaukee Road advertises the Gallatin Gateway route to Yellowstone Park.

The presence of some unsigned Milwaukee advertising in my father’s illustrative collection had made me suspect that Louis had done some work for the railroad. This February, while looking through the milwaukeeroadarchives.com website (that features Milwaukee Road illustrated advertising booklets and pamphlets), I found a signed Louis A. Paeth cover illustration for the Milwaukee’s 1930 Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan travel brochure. 

Louis A. Paeth art on the front of the CMSP&P Railroad pamphlet.

In the illustration, a fisherman is walking towards a lake as the setting sun casts its red light on the rippling water. The artist’s monogram in the lower right-hand corner is similar to one Louis used occasionally on some earlier works—a stylized “P” with an “L” at ten o’clock and an “A” at two o’clock.  After examining so many unsigned illustrations, what a surprise!  

The red setting sun motif of the illustration was also familiar: in the collection of my father’s artwork, I’ve often noticed this template incorporated into other illustrations. As a practical matter, surely the commercial artist of that day, in order to produce the substantial amount of artwork required, had to return to certain stock themes, much as the jazz musician begins with accustomed riffs while soloing.

Rising sun in red motif on 1928 Great Lakes Aircraft catalog and 1931 Watkins catalog.

The discovery of Louis’ participation in the Milwaukee Road’s 1930 brochure brought me to the Road’s promotional activities for the fishing and outdoor recreational possibilities of Northern Wisconsin.  The Milwaukee, shortly before World War I, had started to run an extra seasonal train during the summer that transported passengers from Chicago to the Northern Wisconsin resorts--first billed as the Fisherman’s Special, eventually shortened to The Fisherman.  The train’s 6:25 p.m. departure from Chicago assured an early arrival the next morning at a fishing resort in the Northern Wisconsin area of “big pine woods and many waters.” The Milwaukee Road even sold non-resident Wisconsin fishing licenses at its downtown Chicago ticket offices, thus eliminating the need for its fishing passengers to find a licensing outlet as they arrived to their destination lake. 

May 17, 1930 Chicago Tribune ad.

The Milwaukee’s advertisements also encouraged the sportsman’s family to make the trip. An unattributed June 5, 1928 Chicago Tribune illustration I unearthed shows a contented family at lakeshore. 

1928 Chicago Tribune advertisement.

This illustration is not only in the same thematic key as an earlier illustration Louis had drawn for the book Safe Counsel (Slide 5, upper left), but stylistically identical. 

1925 Safe Counsel illustration by Paeth.

In both, the whole family unit (as in the background of the original proof of “Fish and Feel Fit” itself, pictured at the end of this article) is enjoying the great outdoors: mother contented with shoreline activities, daughter occupied with sand pail and shovel, dad headed out to fish the lake, all happily recreating in the Northern Wisconsin woods made accessible by the Milwaukee’s overnight train, The Fisherman.

Unattributed Chicago Tribune drawing by Paeth.

Family in the background of the famous painting.

Imagine the joy and comfort of riding this train: father could leave his downtown Loop office at 5 p.m. and be seated in the diner as The Fisherman pulled out of Union Station.  After a sumptuous dinner, a trip to the lounge car would be in order, for discussion of the next day’s fishing prospects with one’s companions, accompanied by a good cigar, and perhaps a discreet sip or two from a hip flask—(Prohibition still enforced as the law of the land). 

Somewhere west of Milwaukee, he would retire to his sleeping car berth, and as the train left the mainline at New Lisbon, Wisconsin, heading north up the Wisconsin River branch line towards Wausau and Tomahawk, he slept soundly as the whistling engine of the crack flyer cut through the night (Slide 6).  At first light the following morning, before pulling into Minoqua or Star Lake, the dining car staff made sure the fishermen onboard were “all breakfasted and ready for the first cast.” 

Night train illustration by Louis Paeth.

Unfortunately, even then, the automobile was beginning to change this once-glorious world of passenger train travel, and decreasing train ridership would toll the death knell of this train.  The Fisherman would be suspended for a period of time during World War II, and the train finally ceased operations in 1948.  But in 1930, what a enjoyable way to travel out of Chicago and what a relaxing way to begin one’s angling vacation in Northern Wisconsin. 

Louis J. Paeth, outdoor illustrator.

Often as I search through that era’s illustrative works, I’m transported back to the age of steam trains and bucolic fishing scenes. My reverie of the pleasures of taking this overnight train to a Northern Wisconsin fishing resort brings to mind an oft-quoted line from Norman Maclean’s own classic tale of ‘30s fishing, A River Runs Through It:    

“…what a wonderful world it once was.” 

Yes…it was.
-- Peter Paeth

What a fantastic article. I can't thank Peter enough for sharing this information, and since I grew up in the Northern Wisconsin woods, this was a truly welcome piece. Hopefully Peter will share the results of his ongoing research with us in the future.