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Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:43 am 
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After seeing some of the wonderful, early aluminium reels on here, Clarks and elsewhere I, once again, wondered "Who made the first aluminium reel?".
I resurrected some notes and posted this http://tinyurl.com/23ofj7v. Dr Todd kindly tweeted it and suggested I ask here
If anyone can add to this, or has evidence of very early aluminium reels, it would help increase the knowledge base.

Be gentle with me, I'm new.
Cheers
Brian


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:42 am 
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Capt. Parker Gillmore's Accessible Field Sports (London: Chapman & Hall, 1869, pg. 333) reported on a visit Gillmore made to Andrew Clerk & Co. in New York. He was inspecting American-made reels and "One that I am shown, but is not for sale, and is the first ever made, is constructed out of pure aluminium; the mechanism is perfect, the weight is a mere trifle, and there is no amount of exposure will cause it to corrode." Gillmore was cited by Charles Goodspeed (Angling in America, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939, pg. 301).

A brief article in the second issue of Antique Angler (1980) mentions an aluminum reel made by Conroy in 1876, but no documentation is provided.


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:25 am 
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Steve wrote:"...and there is no amount of exposure will cause it to corrode."


I'm not sure about that part.

Dean.


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:15 am 
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Steve wrote:Capt. Parker Gillmore's Accessible Field Sports (London: Chapman & Hall, 1869, pg. 333) reported on a visit Gillmore made to Andrew Clerk & Co. in New York. He was inspecting American-made reels and "One that I am shown, but is not for sale, and is the first ever made, is constructed out of pure aluminium;


That is early! Thank you. (may I quote you?)
Earliest catalogued reel?


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:45 pm 
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Hello Brian,

You've brought up a very interesting research challenge. Here's a little info I tracked down regarding aluminum (aluminium) reels, that may push the currently known date back a few years. Sadly, there is no mention of the manufacturer however. This is a copy of the 1865 book title and page 114.
If that is indeed the reels cost at the end, what would that amount to in today's Pounds/Dollars?


Image

Image

David


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:03 pm 
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The Retail Price Index indicates four pounds sterling in 1865 was the equivalent of 290 pounds today ($450)--an expensive reel but not overly so. However, if one takes the Average Earning index, meaning what proportion of a person's salary it would take to buy the reel, the prices sky rockets to 2460 pounds sterling in today's terms ($3882). A pricey reel indeed!

-- Dr. Todd


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:29 pm 
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"Chumley"-Pennell's book had already been serialized, and the quote above was first published in The Fisherman's Magazine and Review (which C-P edited) in the summer of 1864. But the main point is that an aluminum reel was said to have been made "recently." I'm currently writing an article about a tackle innovation that one writer mentioned had been developed "recently." Turns out that the innovation had been introduced 10 years previously.

Meanwhile, we also are unsure of when Gillmore saw an aluminum reel. Andrew Clerk & Co. was first listed as such in a directory of 1864-5, but the firm's predecessors had been dealing in tackle for years. Although Gillmore had to have seen his reel between 1864 and whenever he finished writing his book, we still don't know precisely when the first alumin(i)um reel, almost certainly a novelty, was made.

However, Genio Scott (Fishing in American Waters, New York: Harper & Bros., 1869, pg. 67) informs us that by then, "Our fishing-tackle manufacturers are making trout-reels of it [aluminum]."# So it would appear that the use of aluminum for reels was becoming widespread by the late 1860s.

# Dean, Scott also wrote that aluminum "is said never to oxydize." How can we argue with these guys?


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:06 pm 
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An 1866 advertisement by Andrew Clerk & Co. refers to “our new article of Reel and Rod mountings of ALUMINUM BRONZE.” (emphasis in original).
Whether “aluminum bronze” equates to aluminum, I cannot say.


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:36 pm 
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You really have to hand it to those Clerk folks. They seem to have been in the vanguard of everything they dealt in. Great question about aluminum bronze. Googling turned this up from an 1862 paper published by the Royal Astronomical Society:
"The alloy called Aluminium Bronze was first, I believe, made by Dr. Percy five or six years ago, and is composed of Aluminium and Copper in various proportions, 10 percent of Aluminium, however, giving the best material for mechanical purposes."
It's conceivable that Gillmore and C-P could have been mistaken about the metal(s) used for the reels they described. Aluminum bronze sounds like something worth experimenting with for reels, whereas "pure" aluminum doesn't. And Scott? Who knows?

Any chance of posting an image of that Clerk ad?


   

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:42 pm 
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I'll try

Image


   

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:29 am 
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Further research reveals this article by Dr David Harris which suggests the first ever aluminium casting (a statue of Diane de Gabies, by Paul Morin) was produced between 1858 & 60. http://www.dcsoc.org.uk/filemanager_net/files/The_Worlds_Oldest_Aluminium_Castings.pdf

My gut feeling is that the 1860's 'ish reels referred to above are of Aluminium Bronze. Those early Hercules reels, made of Al Bronze show little sign of oxidation 120 years on, and most were left in the white.
I find it hard to believe that pure aluminium was used for commercial reel making until the late 1880's. (but, I've been wrong before)

2p
Brian


   

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:19 am 
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It's conceivable that Gillmore and C-P could have been mistaken about the metal(s)

After revisiting my own babble, I realized that I forgot to consider Gillmore's "...the weight is a mere trifle..." An aluminum bronze reel probably wouldn't leave such an impression. Maybe the reel really was "pure" aluminum, keeping in mind that what they called pure in those days, wasn't.

Many thanks for posting the Clerk ad. How should we interpret "our new article of Reel and Rod mountings of ALUMINUM BRONZE"? Does that refer to, say, reel seats or reel-retaining rings, or can it refer to reels themselves? I wish their copy editor had checked that sentence.


   

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:07 am 
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Let me add the words, including the asterisk footnote, of Henry Parkhurst Wells from Fly Rods and Fly Tackle (1885), that student of invention and advocate for inventors.
“Aluminum reels are coming into the market and into use upon the plea of saving weight, as they most certainly do. But they are very expensive – more so than their advantages will warrant. Besides, this metal is very sensitive to any alkaline solution, and is easily corroded by sea-water; or by perspiration, if the latter happens to be alkaline, as it frequently is. Therefore, such reels, if employed, should be plated with some more durable metal.*
* Since this was written, a new process of production is said to have reduced the cost of this metal from over a dollar an ounce to less than that for a pound. The advantage of its low specific gravity (2.60) is offset by softness, lack of stiffness and elasticity, its solubility in alkaline solutions, and that it cannot be soldered. In itself, therefore, it would seem to merit little attention on the part of the angler. But its alloys with copper are quite another matter. That composed of ninety parts of the latter and ten parts of aluminum some authorities assert to be the most rigid metal known. It is of a red-gold color, tarnishes with reluctance, is somewhat lighter than brass or german-silver, and will solder. For reels and rod-trimmings, now that it should be cheaper than german-silver, it seems well worthy [sic] serious consideration.”
One cannot say, given the fact that this 1885 publication includes a footnote updating a previously written draft, when Wells actually penned his original discussion of aluminum. I do like the phrase, “tarnishes with reluctance.”


   

Posted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:30 am 
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To confuse matters, here are R.B. Roosevelt's thoughts on aluminum, lacking any consideration of reluctant, or even avid, tarnishing. Loose screws from 1884:

Image

Note that R.B. fails to give JVH any credit for his bearings.


   

Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:16 pm 
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I have been researching materials for reels as the makers saw it, on the same time line... I am no expert, but here are a few things I found...

When aluminum was first produced chemically it was more expensive than gold or platinum... In 1854 the first commercial production methods were introduced but it was still more expensive than silver or gold... By 1865 the price had dropped by 90%, but it was still expensive... In 1885 the process electrolytically separating aluminum oxide dissolved in cryolite dropped the price again... Right after that Bayer discovered the process for extracting aluminum from bauxite... At this time (1885-1886) aluminum became a commercial material for industry...

The first aluminums were almost pure and very soft, some old books recommend a reel with an aluminum spool and brass or nickel silver frame... Aluminum bronze was the first alloy I have found mentioned and it is harder than pure aluminum and more suited to reels...

With 3 free electrons, aluminum is very reactive, seemingly pure water can eat a hole clean through in a short time, while the alloys are generally better...

Baithound


   

Posted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:06 pm 
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By the way, aluminum bronze is a member of the bronze family, a copper alloy, it is not aluminum... Aluminum is used to change the properties of the alloy, the alloy doesn't have the properties of aluminum...

Any reel made of this alloy is not an aluminum reel... This definition of bronze is basically the same today...

Baithound


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