ANTIQUE FISHING REELS

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Salt Water Reels

B & M – Los Angeles, Ca.

B&M Klein C R Big Game Trolling Reel - Los Angels Cal (1)

B&M was a retailer in the Los Angeles area that sold big game reels and rods built by California tackle makers. In most cases, the tackle sold by B&M was branded with their name and not the name of the maker.  C. R. Klein of Santa Monica, California built and sold reels under his own…

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BRYANT BANNISTER – Philadelphia, Pa.

Bannister Bryant Big Game Fishing Reel 16/0 (2)

In 1942 Bryant Bannister of Philadelphia Pennsylvania received a patent for his unusual narrow spool cradle style big game reel. It is known that Bannister built his reels in at least two different sizes; a 9-inch diameter reel that is marked 12/0 and a 6-inch diameter reel marked 8/0. In Bannister’s patent, he stated that…

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ERROL BULLEN – ATALANTA – Australia

Atalanta Errol Bullen 16-0 Level Wind

Errol Bullen was one of Australia’s pioneer big game fishermen and the designer of the “Errol Bullen Atalanta” big game fishing reel.  Frederick Commonwealth Smith was born in 1901 and worked for 30 years as an engineer for the Goodyear Rubber & Tire Company.  In 1930 Smith converted an upstairs room in his house into…

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J.A. COXE – Los Angeles, Ca. & Bronson, Mi.

Coxe, J.A. - Los Angels CA 12/0 Zane Grey - Now (1)

Joe Coxe fished the waters off Catalina Island in the early 1900s and was a member and past president of the Avalon Tuna Club. Coxe experienced firsthand the inadequate tackle of the day and in 1919 decided to start work on a reel of his own design. The result was a handmade reel that for…

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CRAWFORD “SWORD FISH REEL” – Hawaii

Crawford - Swordfish Reel - Hawaiian

Frank Crawford was a U.S. Postal worker and a talented machinist who lived in Honolulu, Hawaii when he received a patent on January 2, 1934, for his “Hawaiian Sword Fish Reel”.  Crawford later retired to California and it is not known if he continued to build reels there.  Crawford made very few reels, therefore, they…

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ENDICOTT WILSON – Detroit, Mi.

endicott-wilson-12-0-big-game-fishing-reel (1)

Endicott Wilson reels were some of the last high-quality big game reels produced after World War II.  These handmade big game reels were made by the Endicott Wilson Corporation located at 936 Lafayette Building in Detroit Michigan.  The reel came in five patented “Drumond” models which included sizes; 4/0, 6/0, 9/0, and 12/0.  The company also…

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C.F. FARLOW & CO. – London, England

farlow-c-new-zealand-big-game-fishing-reel-london-england-7-inch-now (1)

Charles Farlow started his fishing tackle business in 1840 and the company has been dealing in the fishing tackle trade in one form or another ever since.  Over the years Farlow’s made a wide range of reels in all sizes.  Although best known for their fly reels, Farlow also built baitcasting reels and big game…

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FIN-NOR – Miami, Fl.

fin-nor-miami-florida-15-0-1st-double-handle-big-game-fishing-reel-gold-now-slp

In the early 1930s, Fred Grieten was the owner of the Fin-Nor Machine Shop in Miami, Florida where he performed auto and boat repairs.  In 1933 Capt. Lloyd Knowles dropped into his shop with his latest project, a big game reel. Knowles, a Miami fishing Captain, had designed a massive big game reel to stop…

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GEORGE GAREY – Chile

garey-george-140-big-game-fishing-reel-chile-swordfish

George Garey, originally from Vermont, was the Chief Engineer at the Anglo-Chilean Nitrate Company in Tocopilla Chile.   Garey was in charge of the mechanical department at Maria Elena where he oversaw the construction of most of the mining equipment including the large cranes used at the nitrate mine.  It was in the machine shop at…

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G.W. GAYLE & SON CO. – Frankfort, Ky.

gayle-george-kentucky-intrinsic-william-mills-son-new-york-fishiing-reel

George Gayle started making high quality casting reels in the mid-1880s in Frankfort Kentucky with his son Clarence.  Gayle’s reels were mostly made of either brass or German silver, however, a few examples have been found made with hard rubber side plates.  Gayle’s hand-made reels are considered very collectible today. George Gayle died in 1896…

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HARDY BROS. – Alnwick, England

hardy-bros-zane-grey-8-1-2-inch-annwick-england-big-fishing-game-reel-zg

Hardy Bros. of Alnwick England started producing reels in 1873 and would go on to become England’s most prolific and highest quality tackle manufacturer.  Hardy made a full line of fishing tackle although fly reels were always considered their mainstay.  Besides fly reels, Hardy also made a full line of spinning reels, casting reels, tournament…

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HOESEL REEL, HALLEN CO. – New York

hoesel-reel-hallen-16-0-big-game-fishing-reel-now

Not much is known about the Hoesel Reel besides the information that is emblazoned on the reel’s metal tag.  The reel was made by the Hallen Company in Long Island City, New York.  There are pictures of a Hoesel reel in Harlan Major’s book, “Salt Water Tackle”, which was published in 1939. The Hoesel Reel…

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ERNEST HOLZMANN – New York

holzman-surf-casting-reel

The first exhibition of tournament casting that was held this side of the Atlantic took place at the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876.  During the course of this tournament, Ernest Holzman shocked his fellow casting competitors by making a cast of 258 feet. Holzman had designed and built a tournament casting reel just for the occasion. …

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IMPERIAL MONTAGUE – Sydney, Aus.

imperial-montague-non-corrosive-australia-big-game-fishing-reel

The “Imperial Montague” reel was built by R. R. Taylor & Co. of Sydney, Australia.  Taylor’s well-made reels have a 6 1/2 inch diameter and a star style drag.  Unlike many pre-World War II, Australian big game reels the “Imperial Montague” was built to be fished over the rod. Taylor marked his reels “Non-corrosive” and…

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C.R. KLEIN – Santa Monica, Ca.

Klein-c-r-santa-monica-cal-12-0-big-game-fishng-reel-harness

During the 1930s, Carl R. Klein built a beautiful line of big game reels at his machine shop in Santa Monica California.  Klein received a patent for his reel on August 8, 1939.  A creative inventor, Klein’s interests did not stop at making fishing reels, he also built an eight-cylinder 268 horsepower engine to be…

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KNOWLES TUNA REEL – Miami, Fl.

knowles-tuna-reel-miami-florida-big-game-fishing-reel-2

Elwin Lloyd Knowles captained the Yacht Byronic which was owned by Byron Miller, the president, and treasurer of W. D. Woolworth Company. Knowles was a talented machinist, a student of mechanical engineering, and successful inventor.  One of Knowles’ creations was a card table that would automatically deal cards to four players; it switched on a…

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ARTHUR KOVALOVSKY – Hollywood Ca.

kovalovsky-arthur-hollywood-cal-type-I-16-0-big-game-fishing-reel-gold-early

Arthur Kovalovsky was born in 1881 in White Church Hungry where he trained as a metal-smith as a young teen.  At the age of 22, Kovalovsky boarded the SS La Touraine departing from Le Havre France on December 26, 1903, and arrived at Ellis Island in early 1904.  Kovalovsky moved to St. Louis where he…

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LEE’S – Miami Fl.

lee_s-maimi-florida-16-0-big-game-fishing-reel-1st-tuna-bimini-black-red-16-0

Roswell Lee was not an angler but made many contributions to big game fishing through his innovative efforts.  Lee worked out of his father’s Miami sports shop, which opened around 1920 at 324 N.E. 13 St. in Miami.  Witnessing Fin-Nor’s recent success, Roswell Lee saw an opportunity to jump into a quickly expanding big game…

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LENZ – Issaquah, Wa.

lenz-gauntett-j-m-issaquah-wash- fishing-reel-small

The Lenz reel was manufactured by the J. M. Gauntlett Company of Issaquah Washington. These odd trolling reels were produced in several different sizes with their drag adjusters being built into the counterbalance of the handle. Click Here to return to our – BIG GAME & SALT WATER REEL GALLERY Lenz Trolling Reel Lenz Trolling Reel

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MARLIN & SUPER MARLIN – Australia

marlin-taylor-super-marlin-australia-big-game-fishing-reel-7-inches-s

Ted Bush immigrated to Australia from England when he was a very young boy.  Bush learned the toolmaking trade and loved to fish so when big game fishing rolled around in the 1930s, Bush jumped in with both feet.  Bush designed and built two different models of big game reels which he named the “Marlin”…

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JOSEPH MARTINA – Hillside, N.J.

martina-joseph-16-0-hillside-new-jersey-big-game-fishing-reel-dual-drag

Nothing is known about Joseph Martina of Hillside, New Jersey except that he built at least one beautiful big game fishing reel in 1938.  This 14/0 size reel has a star style drag on the handle side as well as an auxiliary drag on the opposite side of the reel.  One of this reel’s unique…

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B.F. MEEK & SONS – Louisville, Ky.

meek-b-f-&-Sons-louisville-kentucky-#11-tarpon-tuna-reel-origianl

During the 1930s brothers, Jonathan and Benjamin Meek ran their own business as watchmakers in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Around 1840, the Meek Brothers started building high quality casting reels in several small sizes for fishing freshwater lakes and streams.  During the course of their run in business, the Meeks made reels in larger sizes as well…

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MITCHELL-HENRY – England

mitchell-henry-swordfish-tuna-allcock-big-game-fishing-reel-allcock's-7-inch

Lorenzo Cecil Mitchell-Henry was born in London in 1866.  Mitchell-Henry came from an affluent family, attended Eaton and later completed his education in Heidelberg Germany.  He learned to shoot at a young age and was a crack shot.  He also had his own steam yacht with a crew of four from which he learned to…

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MONTAGUE – Brooklyn, N.Y.

montaque-abercrombie-&-fitch-a&f-ny-fishing-reel-trolling

Montague got its start in the tackle business building split bamboo fishing rods in the early 1880s.  Around the turn of the century, they purchased a company that was building reels.  Montague produced casting reels and fly reels as well as light salt water and trolling reels.  Montague reels are seldom found marked “Montague” as…

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OCEAN CITY – Philadelphia, Pa.

ocean-city-14-0-cradle-big-game-trolling-reel-butt

The Ocean City reel company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania opened its doors for business in 1922 and in 1934 bought out the Montague Rod & Reel Company.  Later acquisitions included the Edward vom Hofe Company in 1939. The majority of Ocean City’s reels were mass produced and have limited collectors value.  Models like the “Orlando”, “Balboa”…

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OHIO TOOL CO. (OTCO) – Columbus, Oh.

ohio-tool-company-otco-12-0-big-game-fishing-reel

The Ohio Tool Company (OTCO) manufactured their high-end big game reels for a very short period in the post-war 1940s.  OTCO reels were one of the last great hand-made big game reels and were extremely well built.  The OTCO trolling reels were made in the 4/0, 6/0 and 12/0 sizes. The reel had a lever…

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REEL KING – Greer, S.C.

reel-king-somaco-greer-south carolina-12-0-big-game-fishing-reel-grieten-fin-nor

“Reel King” reels were produced and marketed by SOMACO (Southern Machinery Company), a South Carolina textile machinery manufacturer of which James Stuart was president.  Stuart was an avid angler, spending much of his time aboard his boat, the “Peggy B”.  The story goes that one day, upon mentioning to his captain, Duke Sanchez, his interest…

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SAMSON – Sydney, Australia

samson-7-inch-australia-big-game-fishing-reel-1937

Ernest W. Tilley of Sydney, Australia apprenticed as a jeweler and left the trade to start making fishing reels in the mid-1930s.  Tilley made two Nottingham style reels called the “Kingfisher” and the “Velos”.  Tilley also made the “Samson” big game reel which he advertised as “Made by Fishermen for Fishermen”. Samson reels were made…

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SCHAUFFLER – KOHLHEPP & KIMSEY – N.J.

schauffler-big-game-reel-kohlheppe-kimsey-fishing-nj-1-8-0

Col. William B. Schauffler was born on November 24, 1891 son of a missionary doctor in Beirut Syria and when he was five years old the family returned to the United States. Schauffler loved flying and in 1916 was one of the first five civilians to enter Army aviation through civilian life. At the advent…

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SHAKESPEARE – Kalamazoo, Mi.

shakespeare-miller-autocrat-14-0-big-game-fishing-reel-now

William Shakespeare Jr. got his start in the fishing tackle business in 1896 and went on to become one of the world’s largest tackle manufacturers.  During the 1930s Shakespeare produced a reel designed by Ralph W. Miller called the “Shakespeare Miller Autocrat”.  Miller had tested the reel on the west coast of the U.S. and…

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A.J. STEAD – Los Angeles, Ca.

stead-a-j-los-angeles-cal-12-0-big-game-trolling-reel-full-handle

Arthur J. Stead, who operated his own reel works at 9313 South Denker Avenue Los Angeles, California, at one time built reels for Joe Coxe before striking out on his own.  Stead was producing reels of his own design that he advertised in three different sizes from the late 1920s through the 1930s.   These reels…

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STEVENS – Miami, Fl.

stevens-miami-florida-big-game-fishing-reel-16-0-1st-model

Miami Captain George M. Stevens owned a radio repair shop and was the manager of the Chamber of Commerce Docks on Miami Beach. Stevens also captained the cruiser “Baby Skylark”, running his own fishing charter business.  Witnessing the success of the Fin-Nor reel’s debut in 1935, Stevens designed his own reel and had it constructed…

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THOMPSON

thompson-big-game-fishing-reel-fin-nor-15-0

Little is known about the Thompson reel or its maker.  What we do know is that the reel is a roughly made knock-off of the 1936 first model Fin-Nor “Big Drum” reel built by Fred Grieten in Miami, Florida. Complete with a second handle and a narrow spool this reel has been found with, and…

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EDWARD VOM HOFE – New York, N.Y.

vom-hofe-edward-722-16-0-commander-ross-ny-big-game-fishing-reel-ex

Edward vom Hofe grew up in Brooklyn New York and was the son of reel maker Friedrich vom Hofe and brother of reel maker Julius vom Hofe. Edward started building reels as an apprentice to his father in the mid-1860s and established his own reel making company in 1867. Edward went on to produce some…

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JULIUS VOM HOFE – Brooklyn, N.Y.

vom-hofe-julius-b-ocean-12-0-big-game-fishing-reel-ny-now

Julius vom Hofe was the eldest son of famous reel maker Friedrich vom Hofe of Brooklyn New York. Julius vom Hofe’s younger brother, Edward, also established a large and successful reel making company in New York in 1967. Friedrich started his reel making business in 1857 and it is believed that Julius started as his…

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L.T. WILLIS – Sydney, Australia

willis-l-t-swordfish-multiplying-game-fishing-reel-sil-rohu-sydney-australia-fishing

Leo T. Willis was an Australian reel maker who manufactured a few different models of high-quality big game fishing reels from the 1930’s on into the 1950’s.  Among the reels that he produced were the “Barrier” multiplying big game reel, the “Landem” reel, the “Makoora” reel, the “Neptuna” reel, the “Swordfish” reel, and the “Tasman”…

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GAR WOOD JR. – Miami, Fl.

gar-wood-jr-trolling-reel-miami-florida-6-0-ted-wiliams-sears

Garfield (Gar) Wood Jr. grew up on Miami’s Fisher Island which was owned by his father, Gar Wood Sr.  Wood Sr. was a successful businessman and at one point held more patents than any man in America.  Perhaps best known for building and racing speedboats, Wood Sr. loved the water and passed this passion down…

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OTTO ZWARG – New York & St. Petersburg, Fl.

zwarg-otto-st-petersburg-florida-600-maximo-4-0-big-game-fishing-reel

Otto Zwarg was born in Germany and immigrated to New York where he found a job as a machinist working for the Edward vom Hofe Co. building fishing reels. Zwarg was a quick study and vom Hofe soon had him heading up the reel making division. When the Edward vom Hofe Co. closed its doors,…

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UNKNOWN MAKERS

unknown-big-game-reel-drag-thru-pillar-16-0

Here are a few examples of big game reels whose makers are unknown.  Have you seen any of these reels before?  Can you help identify the maker of any of these reels? Do you have a reel whose maker you can’t identify?  Let us know and we will do our best to help you identify…

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