Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sporting Collectibles -- Fisherman's Paraphernalia

Shakespeare fishing reel oil, Horrocks-Ibbotson fishing rod varnish, and Kingfisher dry fly oil bottles.

Vintage Kingfisher leader on original card, and a coil of Kingfisher fishing line from the Horton Mfg. Co.

Bill Dewitt Baits "Pyra Shell" Plastic Fly Fishing Boxes (circa 1940) and vintage flies.

Vintage Plueger Indiana trout spinner close up of Bulldog logo -- an attracter to which you attach your favorite fly.

A scarce 1913 A.F. Meisselbach & Bro. fisherman's scale.

Vintage Herter's model 2 sportsman's pocket compass and original box.

Vintage advertising match safe with fishermen in canoe and jumping pike.

Vintage advertising match safe (back) Wolf & Ulrich, "The Dizzy," Chicago.

Sportman's measuring tape and Red Ball Waders advertising ruler.  No liars here.

Vintage English pewter hip whisky flask with fishing scene.  To be carried in case of snake bite.

Vintage 1995, Remington UMC -- Stren Fishing Line -- advertising knife.  A limited edition of 5000.

1920 or 1930s Horrocks - Ibbotson Co. 6" advertising ruler.

What's in your tackle box?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sporting Classics -- Horton Mfg Co.

My first fishing rod -- a hand-me-down from my dad -- was a steel rod.  I have no idea who made it or when, but I my guess is it was from the early 1940s.

Every time I look at old family photos of someone holding up the catch of the day, I am reminded of the many wonderful fishing trips with my mom and dad as well as with my children in more recent years.

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s I collected old rods, reels, and lures in boxes, but then I made the mistake of selling them later.  I recently starting buying vintage fishing collectibles once again, and this time I'm a lot more choosy about what I purchase.

In the past few months I've been lucky enough to find several items manufactured by the Horton Manufacturing Company of Bristol, CT.

Horton Mfg. Co. makers of Bristol Steel Rods

The Horton Manufacturing Company, of Bristol, CT was a successful manufacturer and dealer of quality fishing tackle from the late 1880s through the 1950s.

The business was started in 1887, when Everett Horton, a Bristol mechanic, patented a fishing rod of telescoping steel tubes.  The rod was lightweight and compact, and the steel tubes protected the line from tangling and snagging on branches while hiking to a favorite fishing hole.

Within a short time frame The Horton Manufacturing Company located in Bristol, CT and began producing a complete line of steel fishing rods.  They offered everything from delicate fly rods to hefty deep sea rods.

Horton Mfg. and Meek Reels

On Monday, August 14, 1916 the Bristol Press newspaper reported on page one:

"General Manager Charles R. Riley and Secretary Towndsend G. Treadway of the Horton Manufacturing Company returned this noon from Louisville, Kentucky from a business trip which is very important to this city.  While at that place on Saturday, the purchase of the B. F. Meek Company, manufacturers of fishing reels, by the Horton Manufacturing Company was completed."

So, in 1916 the Horton Mfg. Co. went from having no fishing reels in their catalog to being the manufacturer of the most famous fishing reels in America.

E. J. Martin Co. and Kingfisher Fishing Lines

In 1920, the Horton Mfg. Co. acquired the E. J. Martin Company, of Kingfisher Line fame.

Meek Fly Fishing Reels

Beginning around 1930, the Horton Mfg. Co. offered the Meek fly reel in three sizes.  They were designated as numbers 54 (2 7/8" - 35 yards), 55 (3 1/8" - 45 yards) and 56 (3 1/2" - 65 yards).  Later the Meek reels were dropped and the less expensive Bristol reel was introduced.

Horton's Marketing and Advertising

Some of the most beautifully illustrated posters, calendars, and catalogs offered by any fishing tackle company were created by the Horton Manufacturing Co, for their Bristol Steel Rods.

Two of America's finest sporting illustrators, Oliver Kemp and Philip R. Goodwin, were commissioned to do paintings for their calendars, catalogs and other marketing materials.

I have been fortunate enough to obtain a 1920 Bristol Catalog (above) with a cover illustration by Philip Goodwin.  The best part of the catalog is that it was late enough to include not only Bristol Steel Rods, also Meeks Blue Grass Reels, and Kingfisher Lines (photo above).

These early catalogs are extremely collectible and fetch fairly high prices.

A good source of information about these vintage catalogs is "Classic Hunting Collectibles" (2005) an identification and price guide by Hal Boggess

Happy hunting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Daughter's -- Winter Bass Fishing Challenge

In an earlier post I pointed out that my dad had been a bit of a nomad all of his life.  Consequently I went to two different high schools.  I spent my first two years in the High Sierras, and the last two years in Sacramento.

After we moved to Sacramento dad bought a 14' fiberglass runabout boat, so he could go bass fishing at nearby Folsom Lake.  

Looking back over the years I recall my first few fishing trips with dad had been a quest for bass at Lake Sherwood in Southern California, but we usually came home with a stringer full of bluegill.

Folsom Lake was different -- it was a genuine bass fishing mecca.  I don't know if Folsom is known for record largemouth, but I do know we pulled plenty of nice fish out of the south fork of the American River in the late 1950s.

Dad's favorite lures back then were the Yellow Coach Dog Bomber and the Whooper Stopper Hellbender.  In the relatively clear waters of the American River you could often see the lure as it was being retrieved, and occasionally you could watch a strike when a fish hit the lure.  We spent many hours on pleasant summer and fall evenings probing the points and coves of Folsom Lake.

Fast forward a dozen years to 1970, I found myself at Big Bear Lake (back in Southern California) building vacation cabins.  I soon discovered Big Bear Lake is another bass fishing mecca, but this time I also discovered surface fishing just before dark when the bass would feed in the shallows.  

My favorite lures soon became Fred Arbogast's Jitterbugs and Hula Poppers.  I didn't have a lot of money in those days so I waded into the water wearing blue jeans and old tennis shoes.  It sure was a thrill being nearly waist deep in the water, just before dark, and watching the dorsal fin of a largemouth bass break along the surface as it hits a gurgling floating lure.

Last week I had just returned from a trout fishing trip at Virginia Lakes in the high sierras when my scientist daughter called me from San Francisco where teaches chemistry at a university.  

My daughter on Jackson Lake, WY paddling my 12' Old Town Pack Canoe

Throughout the years she has been a consistent fishing partner, and we've fished for trout all over the Western states together.

During our telephone conversation she told me her schedule would finally allow her to come home for Christmas this year, and she sure wished we could find a place to go fishing.  We talked about fishing for a few minutes and I asked if she has ever fished for bass.  She hadn't, so I told her about some of my adventures with my dad.

It had occurred to me that the closest lake, to our home in Chatsworth, is Castaic in nearby Santa Clarita, and it does have pretty highly regarded reputation bass fishing in the early spring.

My preferred style of fishing is trolling for trout from one of my two canoes.  My a largest canoe, a 14' Old Town Hunter, is a bit tight for two fishermen (fisher-persons) when they are casting, but since I don't know much about Castaic I figure we can try trolling for bass.

Who knows maybe we'll get lucky.  Either way spending a day fishing with your daughter is always a winner.  

Being a big fan of Rapala lures, especially when fishing for trout, I purchased a hand full of Shad Rap SR09 lures that should run to a depth of 8' to 15' when being trolled behind a canoe.

Wish us luck

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Little Virginia Lake, California -- Revisited

Back in the late 1980s, or early 1990s I was driving to Bridgeport, California to meet a fishing buddy.  At daybreak I was on the Conway summit just a few miles south of Bridgeport when I noticed a sign that read Virginia Lakes 6 miles.

Since it was so early I decided to have a look at the lakes.  I arrived at the Little Virginia Lake and the water was so smooth I decided to put my canoe in the water and troll for a few minutes.

Within a few hundred feet of paddling I hooked a beautiful rainbow trout (photo above).  Since that trout was all I needed for dinner that night I quickly reloaded my canoe and headed for Bridgeport.  I was back on US-395 headed north is less than an hour's time.

California has suffered years of severe drought, so many of it's lakes are so low they aren't worth fishing.  I started making some calls to find fishable water and I found Virginia Lakes Resort.  I rented a cabin and made a plan to go there during the last week in September.

The resort was all I hoped for.  It wasn't overcrowded, there was ample parking, and the rustic 1950s cabins were clean and had all I needed for a few days of relaxation.

My 12' x 24' cabin had a queen size bed, a bath with a shower, and a kitchen complete with stove, refrigerator and dinette.  Better yet it had pots, pans and dishes, so all I had to bring was a box of food.

Little Virginia Lake really isn't much more than a pond, but it's just the right size for an old man to canoe.  The lake has all the charm of some of the more remote High Sierra lakes.  

It's surrounded by pine trees and aspen, and there's plenty of wildlife that comes to drink at the water's edge.

It didn't take long to figure out which lures worked best.  I'm a big Rapala fan, and found both the original floater in silver and a floating jointed firetiger would produce a strike.  The lake only has a depth of about 15', so the countdowns won't work there.  Shore fisherman did well with worms.

There are some native trout, but the lake is also planted weekly, so you're almost guaranteed a trout dinner after a few hours of paddling.

quien sabe... maybe I'll run into you next fall.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Genealogy Acts of Kindness

A genealogy act of kindness is sending a photo or document to a researcher without asking for anything in return.

This week I received some photos from a distant cousin whose 2nd great grandmother (Hannah Boyd) is the sister of my 2nd great grandmother Sophia (Boyd) Bailey. 

In the photo above -- the gents seated are David Solomon Bailey (right) my 2nd great grandfather and his brother-in-law Frances Holland Shonkwiler (left); the lady on the far right is Sophia.

The second photo (above) is Sophia's niece Lucy (Shonkwiler) Stocker (left), her husband Marion Stocker behind mules, and Marion's sister Bertha (Right).

Thank you Linda.

More about David Solomon Bailey:

Cowboy Legacy -- Pioneer trails Westward 1800 - 1935

Cowboy Legacy -- Iowa Territory 1845 to Nebraska 1869

3rd Iowa Cavalry

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cowboy Collectibles -- Rare Fishing Watch Fob

c. 1910 Big Pine, Cal - Home of the Trout watch fob

Fishing and angling themed watch fobs are rare to begin with, so when you find one from your home state they are really special.

Most of my life I have spent some time every summer fishing in California's Eastern High Sierras.  

And, for me when you're traveling up US-395 from Los Angeles, and have reached Big Pine, California when are in "fishing country." 

Cowboy Collectibles -- More Horse Themed Watch Fobs

Stewart's Horse Clipping Machine circa 1905

In an earlier post about Cowboy Collectible watch fobs I explained it gives me a good deal of pleasure to learn about some of things that my grandfathers may have used in their everyday life. 

It's one of the reasons I'm attracted to 'Horse Themed Watch Fobs.'  There's a better than good chance my granddad, his dad, or even his granddad used some of these products to keep their saddle and draft horses working.

Here's a circa 1905, advertising watch fob for the Stewart horse clipping machine (pictured above).  Can you imagine clipping your horse with one of these?

I love the image on this Standard Horse Shoe Company watch fob from Boston.

According to reverse side on this 1918 fob the Grand Island, Nebraska Horse & Mule Company held an auction every Monday and Tuesday.