Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

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Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by RonG »

The reel evolution of the “Intrinsic” is based on the William Mills & Son (Mills) catalogs available to me at the time of writing this story.

Early on, it was obvious that Mills liked the “Intrinsic” name on their products. There is at least one item in all their tackle items that bears the name. This included a reel. Clarence Gayle (Gayle) started making the “Intrinsic” reel for Mills starting in the early 1900’s. The reel is not in the 1899 catalog, but is in the 1908 catalog. The reel was made of German silver. The reel design is a more ornate version of the Gayle “Standard” top hat reel. Gayle also made a second version of the “Intrinsic” reel that looked like a regular Kentucky reel, but also very ornate. By ornate, I mean a lot of knurling on almost all edges and components. This second version is not seen in the Mills catalogs I have examined.

In 1909 the 9/0 size “Intrinsic” salt water reel was introduced in the catalog. The Gayle bait caster and 9/0 size reels were carried in their catalogs up until 1916 when WWI was going on. At this time Clarence Gayle was not making reels and his reels no longer show up in the future Mills catalogs. It does appear that Gayle had established a relationship with Julius vom Hofe (JVH) and procured components from them. The one reel pictured below has the Mills name stamped on it and similar to the Gayle version but with a JVH handle and foot.

After the war, Mills teamed up with JVH to make the “Intrinsic” reels. The first to be introduced was the salt water version in 1924. The reel advertised an automatic free spool that was not found on the Gayle versions. Also, the reel more reflects the JVH exterior design. It wasn’t until about 1932 that the JVH “Intrinsic” bait casting reel appeared in the catalogs. To my knowledge, both bait casting and salt water JVH versions were available up until 1942, here again, when a war was going on. Photos of the salt water version can be seen in Steve Vernon’s new book. The bait casting reel, although advertised as German silver and hard rubber in the catalogs, to my knowledge has only been found made of aluminum and hard rubber.

The Clarence Gayle "Intrinsic" Bait Casting Reels

The Clarence Gayle "Intrinsic" Tarpon Reel

The Clarence Gayle "Intrinsic" Tarpon Reel with Julius vom Hofe Parts

The Julius vom Hofe "Intrinsic" Bait Casting Reel

The Julius vom Hofe "Intrinsic" Tarpon Reel

Photos of the Julius vom Hofe "Intrinsic" Tarpon Reel can be seen in Steve Vernon's new book.
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Re: Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by Mike N »

That’s a noteworthy and scholarly presentation, Ron. It is what ORCA is all about.

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Re: Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by reelsmith. »

Nice reels Ron !

Thanks for sharing and for the great information.

Wanted: Kosmic Items, Small Leather Fly Reel Cases, Early Fishing Related Bottles, Fly Reels and Pre-1900 Angling/Casting Medals.

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Re: Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by Paul M »

Great educational article and display, Ron. I especially like the picture showing the faint double-impression of the Gayle name in script on the rubber side plate. That must be very rare!
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Re: Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by kyreels »

Very educational and unknown to me. Love the Gayle Tarpon reel, tremendous.
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Re: Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by bettybarr »

Ron, your history is so detailed, making every reel unique. The World Wars were hard on every industry and I wonder how the pandemic will affect fishing. Thank you for being a stellar President and taking the time to make displays. You just do it all.
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Re: Evolution of the William Mills & Son “Intrinsic” Reel

Post by Steve »

Ron, an excellent, welcome display of a series of reels that have been mostly ignored for too long. Kudos!

Steve Vernon
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"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."
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