Arthur Joseph Stead was born in Illinois in 1885 and got his start making reels for Joe Coxe in the early 1920s. After he left Coxe, Stead started his own reel works which was located at 9313 South Denker Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Stead was producing reels of his own design that he advertised in three different sizes from the late 1920s through the 1930s. These reels included; the 4/0 size reel which held 500 yards of 9 strand line and cost $125.00. The 9/0 size reel which held 450 yards of 24 strand line and also sold for $125.00. The 12/0 size reel held 500 yards of 39 strand line and sold for $300.00. It would seem that Stead's 12/0 reel was quite a bargain as the 12/0 J. A. Coxe reel, of perhaps lesser quality, sold for $750.00.
Stead also made custom reels including a small 2/0 size reel and a massive 14/0 cradle style reel built with red Micarta side plates. Stead also made reels with a below the rod, tubular, style reel seat.
Stead's 12/0 and 9/0 size reels have ball bearings on each end of the spool shaft. These reels also have ball bearings around the large gear and ball thrust under the pilot wheel so that the pilot wheel releases easily. The 12/0 has a click on one side and a light friction drag on the other side to avoid any danger of the line backlashing while fighting the fish.
All reels came with an unlimited guarantee as to workmanship and materials. Stead also performed repair work on other makers reels.
Stead reels were completely hand-made from the finest materials obtainable at the time. The bells, handles, pillars, and cross plates were all made of nickel silver. hub gears and bearings were made from Tobin bronze and the bells were reinforced to keep them from spreading. For the most part, Stead used black Bakelite for his side-plates and star wheels but a couple of brown and reddish marbleized reels have shown up over the years as well as reels with black side-plates and yellow star drags.
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