BINGHAM – Toledo, Ohio

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Jeremiah (Jerry) Bingham was born in 1869 in Lye England, a small town just west of Birmingham.  In 1871 the Bingham family moved to Worchester and then on to Brierley Hill where Jerry attended engineering trade school learning the metal stamping business and earned the title "Fitter".   In 1865 Jerry's engineering education ended, he was just 26 when he boarded a ship in Liverpool and immigrated to Philadelphia in the United States.

After spending a year in Philadelphia, Bingham moved to New York and worked for the E.W. Bliss Company on the stamping presses and after a year and a half he was made foreman of their tool room.  Bingham left E.W. Bliss after 6 years and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a foreman position at A.O Smith Company, but subsequently returned to New York to take charge of the E.W. Bliss automatic department.

During this period Jerry married Sarah Jane Eggenton, and together they had three children, Ester born in 1902, Joe born in 1904 (died 1906), and Edith May, who later changed her name to Zoe, born in 1906.  With his young family in tow, Bingham moved to Toledo Ohio and became superintendent of the tool department at the Toledo Machine and Tool Company's Ohio Plant where he designed, built and patented an assembly machine made up of hundreds of individual parts which produced ball bearings with inner and outer races that assembled automatically.


Working for others didn't always satisfy Bingham so he gathered his resources and founded the Acklin Stamping Company of Toledo which specialized in manufacturing auto parts.  Soon after he left that business and started another, Bingham Stamping Company, which was a money-maker right out of the box.  In 1929, after nine years of success, Bingham sold out lock, stock, and barrel for an early retirement saying he had a deep rooted desire to fish and hunt unmolested by telephones, Dictaphones and the 1,001 gadgets that while running the business he found inescapable.  It wasn't too long before bad investments made it imperative for him to start building up again.  Bingham's two son-in-laws were in active control of the business but welcomed him back with open arms and with their assistance he organized and became head of the Toledo Stamping and Manufacturing Company.

Throughout his life Bingham loved the outdoors and in particular hunting and fishing.  Bingham purchased a cabin on West Twin Lake in Lewiston Michigan where he rowed his Old Town flat transom boat around its nine miles of shoreline trolling for fish.  At one point he had a tank truck deliver two thousand fingerling trout to stock the lake.  In 1924 he took a three-month vacation and rode horseback through Alberta Canada with a friend, their wives and a hired guide fishing and hunting their way across the province.  Jerry fished in Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, British Columbia and all over lower Canada and Cat Cay where he landed a 456 pound bluefin tuna, the largest caught there that year.

Bingham took many fishing vacations to Miami Florida over the years and during one of those trips he caught the big game fishing bug.  Having fished for marlin and tuna in Bimini, Bingham wanted to set his sights on an even larger prize.  His goal was to set an all time catch record by landing a "black-fish" weighing 9,000 to 12,000 pounds.  A "black-fish", or "pothead" whale, is actually a False Killer Whale (pseudorca crassidens) which inhabits the waters off South Florida. Jerry befriended tackle maker E.A. Pflueger, who supplied him with the tackle and helped him secure the boat from which the attempt was made.  Upon hooking a whale Bingham said he almost died in his attempt to land it when the chair that he had strapped himself into started to fail and he feared that he would be dragged overboard.  So with a lesson learned Jerry went back to the drawing board to come up with ideas for better gear.

Having fished in Miami over a period of several years Jerry had the occasion to meet Frank O'Brien, founder of Tycoon Tackle and an expert on big game fishing.  He enlisted O'Brien to build a "Bimini King" tip, the finest rod in its day, for a reel that he had designed and planned to build back at his factory in Toledo.  Bingham and O'Brien became fast friends often fishing Miami and Bimini together.  O'Brien even visited Bingham at his home in Toledo and gave a speech on big game fishing at Bingham's Lions Club.

Building a reel from scratch was quite an undertaking so Jerry put his son-in-law, Edwin Tasker, in charge of making his design a reality while he ran the daily operations at Toledo Stamping.  Part of Tasker's job was keeping track of the expenses relating to the tool and die work on this one special reel's production.  After many weeks of work Bingham checked in with Tasker on the costs that had been accrued to date.  The cost for just the machining of the parts topped out somewhere north of $3,500.00, a price tag that sent Mr. Bingham into a tirade of colorful language.

The reel was finished in 1936 and put to the test in Bimini Waters.  Bingham's behemoth weighed in at a whopping 18 pounds without line or rod, had a diameter of 9 1/2 inches with an inside spool measurement of 5 inches.  Built in the cradle style, with rod and butt fittings centered fore and aft, the overall length of the reel was 17 inches.  The reel's massive spool was machined out of a solid block of bar stock aluminum and the body of the reel appears to be cast from a high grade, strengthened and polished aluminum alloy.

Bingham's unique reel featured a lever style drag with brake pads that expand inside and onto the reel's spool arbor creating friction.  Similar drags were later incorporated into the Endicott Wilson and Ohio Tool Company reel designs.  The lever drag's run is calibrated with seven settings starting with "FREESPOOL AND DROPBACK" followed by settings 1 through 5 with the last, un-numbered position being labeled "LINE AT HIGH TENSION".  Attached to the main drag lever is a separate, spring loaded lock and release lever designed to keep the drag locked onto the angler's chosen setting.  There are two large harness lugs on top of either side of the spool each having two positions.  Jerry fitted a roller bar across the spool just above where the rod attaches to the cradle to help the angler guide the line evenly onto the spool when reeling in a fish.  The reel has a 1 to 1 ratio of retrieve and a constant click built into the rear side-plate.  The only other markings on the reel are "PAT. PEND"

Bingham Big Game Reel