Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

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David Lehmann
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Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

Neat, early (late 1830s to late 1840s) German silver reel that was almost certainly produced by J. B. Crook in New York City (based on similar and identical features with other very early Crook-produced reels) and sold by Edward Lovell’s hardware and sporting goods store in Savannah, Georgia. The reel is stamped "E. Lovell" and "SAVH" (an early abbreviation for Savannah).

This seems to fill a number of “earliest ever reported” categories, including:
- Earliest retailer-marked “trade” sport fishing item from a southern state
- Earliest northern state produced fishing reel that was demonstrably sold in the South.

Extremely well-made, the 250-yard reel that would have been ideal for redfish angling around the Savannah area. The smoothness of this reel certainly rivals that of the more highly-acclaimed contemporary Kentucky reels. The stamping on the reel is indicative of a pre-1848 date, as the company name changed then, when Lovell took on partners. Lovell established his own business as a gun dealer in 1837. By 1840, his retail business had expanded to a full line of hardware goods. Lovell was considered a pioneer in establishing a large retail business in Savannah and in promoting the expansion of infrastructure and business for the area.

This is the only example of pre-Civil War Northern-produced sport fishing item, that I know of, that was demonstrably sold in any of the Confederate states. The window of time in which northern production numbers, transportation routes and costs, and politics were all conducive for this type of trade was likely narrow. Certainly, more examples did exist; Lovell would not have ordered a single reel for his retail business.










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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Roger Schulz »

Dave

You need to do an article on the reel. I remember you purchasing the reel. It is a great reel and an interesting piece of history.

Roger
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by kyreels »

Great reel. I head to Savannah and HHI next week. I will be fishing Penn.

Lovell came to Savannah in 1835 and started his hardware store in 1848. Here is his history https://books.google.com/books?id=zv9HA ... ga&f=false
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David Lehmann
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

Matt,
True, he started his EXPANDED store with a partner and new business/company name (no longer "E. Lovell," his previous company stamping) in 1848. Luckily, he was well known and prosperous enough that there is a lot of information about him that is publicly available. However, he started a gun dealership in 1837 and expanded to a line of hardware in 1840. The company name change is important (and their are other reports that he changed stampings and advertisements to reflect the name change in 1848) in that it establishes the latest possible date for the reel's manufacture. When I first purchased the reel, I thought it was probably made by Frederick vom Hofe, but there are features on this reel that one doesn't see on most FVH reels, some features that FVH seems to have copied and modified that I've seen on early Crook reels, and a few features that seem identical to Crook reels. 1848, or 1847--if one allots time for purchase and transport to Savannah, not an easy journey at the time--is the absolute latest date of manufacture. FVH did not get to the U.S. until 1847. Although he clearly made reels before FVH & Son formed in 1857, it probably wasn't very long before that (see Steve V's discussions). Here are a few more references about Lovell's business:

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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

Roger,
I do hope to write an article for The Reel News about this reel in the future, if I don't publish elsewhere. For a single reel, it is a very cool microcosm of U.S. history, branding, and the "Who's Your Maker" challenge.

However, per The Reel News' conventions, I am not permitted to write articles about merchandise that is currently for sale. For this reason, I will post some discussions of cool merchandise here and possibly look to publish info about "merchandise" elsewhere. One of the reason's I started "The Antique Angler" was for an opportunity to briefly own and study lots of interesting/poorly understood fishing items that I can't afford to keep, study them in detail, and then to share the knowledge. I do that in summary format as item descriptions in my store, but that information is ephemeral. It's a bit frustrating, but that's how it goes!
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Richard Lodge »

Beautiful and very rare reel, David. Thanks for sharing. I agree with Roger: This one would warrant an article in the magazine with your excellent photos. When I saw the Lovell name it made me wonder if your Lovell might be related to John P. Lovell, who ran a retail biz in Boston in the late 1800s and sold this neat little J. vom Hofe-made single action reel. (The reference to Medway, Mass., also caught my attention).




The knurled oil cap on the backplate screws off.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Roger Schulz »

Dave'

I could always buy the reel from you and then you could publish its history. I am kicking myself for not buying the reel when the seller sold it to you.
Roger
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by reelsmith. »

.
Nice reels David and Richard !

Dean.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by RonG »

That's a beautiful reel David. Please share photos of Crook marked reels that have the features of this reel. It will help members in the future ID unmarked Crook reels.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Steve »

It will help members in the future ID unmarked Crook reels.
Crook details have been available for years here and in Reel News, January, 2009. The flat crossbridge, flat-sided pillar nuts, and main gear fastening are good indicators.

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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by RonG »

That's what I was wondering. Here's some food for thought. None of the overall reel photos in your Crook article, in general, look like the subject reel. It does have some internal features like the pillar nuts and the main gear three screws you mention - That by the way are not present on all your reel photos of these parts. Not one of the Crook reels has a sliding bearing cap. He used a screw on type design. The spool shaft brass bearing journal is identical to that in the JVH 1867 patent that he used before he added the bridge. That brass spool journal is a characteristic of early JVH/FVH reels. Here's what it does look like however.






Maybe Crook made the F. vom Hofe reels.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Steve »

Maybe Crook made the F. vom Hofe reels.
Maybe F. vom Hofe copied Crook reels.
None of the overall reel photos in your Crook article, in general, look like the subject reel.
So what? Crook was making reels for 30+ years, with a lot more variation than most. Do you really expect that the tiny sampling we collectors come up with to all look the same? Would you expect that of Shakespeare reels?
It does have some internal features like the pillar nuts and the main gear three screws
And a flat crossbridge. Having sliding oil caps does not make every reel a VH. IMHO, your FVH...and & Son, by the way...has more differences from the Lovell than similarities. Here's another Crook:


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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

John P. Lovell was born in Milury, MA in 1813 (about same age as Edward). Medway and Milbury are fairly close. John P. is not coming up on a fairly massive family tree on which Edward is listed, but the same last names and close proximities are suspicious. They may be (are likely?) related, but distantly. E. Lovell's family tree goes back to his father, who was also born in MA, in 1783.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by RonG »

That's a beautiful Crook reel Steve. When you get a chance, please send me a photo of a Crook reel with sliding oil caps.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Low Profile »

I too have a John P Lovell Arms Boston stamped JVH HR/GS fly reel and am wondering if there is a family connection. Maybe a north v south family divide? That would be interesting. When I got the reel all I could find was a nice write-up of the company in Boston in AJ Campbells book that provides a time line starting in 1840 and ending with the sale to Iver Johnson in about 1900.

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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Richard Lodge »

LP: can you post photos of your reel?
thanks!
Richard

David: I agree that Medway / Milbury connection in Massachusetts is interesting for the Lovells.
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Steve
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Steve »

please send me a photo of a Crook reel with sliding oil caps.
I'll trade it for a photo of an FVH&Son with the features mentioned above and lack of a main gear post.

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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by RonG »

You first :D
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Now boys! 🤼 :lol:
Love those Open Face Spinning Reels! (Especially ABU & ABU/Zebco)

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Steve
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Steve »

You first :D
As we all know, the best way to ID the maker of the Lovell reel would be to analyze its GS and compare with FVH and Crook GS, while hoping they didn't switch suppliers too often. Unfortunately, my mass spectrometer is in the shop and won't be usable for a while.

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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by RonG »

That was fun! :D On a serious note - Good discussion.
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Low Profile »

JP Lovell Arms Boston stamped JVH GS/HR 3 1/2

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Richard Lodge
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Richard Lodge »

Nice reel, LP. Thanks for sharing those photos. Would love to see more Lovell/Boston- marked reels turn up to know just how many types there are out there.
R
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by RonG »

Nice reel and good photos. LP, Please post photos of bottom of foot and rear plate. Thanks
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Re: Historical, Early, "North - South" Fishing Reel

Post by Jason »

Two things I find unusual...

First, David's reel has an fancy two-tiered bearing on the headcap. The only marked reels I've seen like that were EVH. That alone wouldn't rule out Crook as he was never afraid to experiment.




Second, I can't ever recall seeing a J.B. Crook reel made for the trade. If anyone has one, I'd love to see it. Perhaps Crook was willing to make some trade reels as long as they were not being sold by his nearby competitors.

Other factors like the crank nut and the flat foot bridge have been used by Crook and various vom Hofes a million times so its hard to tell. Here are a couple Crooks with sliding oil caps and no post on the main gear. These both also have the telltale Crook drag button.






And lastly, a mystery reel with the fancy two-tiered bearing (I think I got this from Ron).

Jason
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