Getting hooked on fishing nostalgia

Allan Blackburn

Allan Blackburn

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Looking at antiques with Allan Blackburn...

The children have gone back to school, meaning there are now a few of us who have a bit more time on our hands.

So this week I am taking a look at fishing, a sport for which time and patience (and, of course, some decent equipment) are all that are needed for a quiet afternoon out.

Angling is a type of fishing using an “angle” or fish hook. Collectors of angling memorabilia and equipment are attracted by the nostalgia and history attached to their 
favourite sport, as well as the quality and engineering of fishing collectables.

Angling was popular amongst the Victorians: the thousands of equipment patents applied for during the Victorian period are testament to its popularity and even Prince Albert was a keen fisherman. A set of Victorian rods can be worth £200 to a serious collector.

Angling continued to be a favourite pastime of gentlemen in the Edwardian era. Because it was predominantly a sport for the aristocracy, much of the equipment from this period is of excellent quality and workmanship.

Line winders, rods and lures are all collectable, but perhaps the most widely available and sought-after fishing accessories are reels.

The design and ingenuity of reels makes them attractive to collectors, and their size means they can easily be displayed. Whilst some reels are worth £10 or less, others are sold for thousands of pounds. Flies are also popular with collectors and can be found in very good condition.

An important name for collectors is Hardy of Alnwick, Northumberland. A 1891 brass “Hardy Perfect” reel fetched £17,000 at auction a few years ago, showing just how much the name increases the value of a reel.

The most important part of an angler’s sporting equipment is, of course, the rod itself. As these can be impressively displayed on walls, they, too, can be in demand amongst collectors. Some anglers will only collect certain types of rod, for example roach rods or fly rods.

Like the reel, the design of the rod became more sophisticated during the Victorian period, as different materials, like hard tropical woods, were used and new gadgets were added. Fishing collectables are most valuable when they are manufactured by a well-known maker (like Hardy of Alnwick) or are unusual.

Look for oddities and your investment will undoubtedly pay off.