Get hooked on fishing memorabilia

Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at fishing collectables...

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 5:58 pm

With play centres and screens always within reach, today’s children are unlikely to suffer from summer holiday boredom, but slower paced activities which encourage a little patience and reflection have much to recommend them.

Obviously, I’d recommend visiting an antiques centre, but there’s also been a reported increase in children taking up fishing, still the UK’s biggest participation sport, and the sixth biggest sport overall, behind armchair sports such as football and rugby.

Prince Albert was a keen fisherman and the thousands of patents applied for during the Victorian period are testament to its popularity.

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The large Allcock reel pictured is in the centre priced at 120 pounds. The others range between 10 and 40 pounds

Very much a sport for the aristocracy, much old fishing equipment is of excellent quality and workmanship, opening up a new collectable avenue to dads finding hours sitting on the riverbank less appealing for the joints!

Angling memorabilia and equipment collectors are attracted by its quality and engineering, as well as the nostalgia and history attached to their favourite sport, seeking out rods, lures, decoys, line winders and even licenses.

The design and ingenuity of reels makes them especially attractive to collectors who want to see how things work, and their size means they can easily be displayed, with prices ranging from £10 to thousands of pounds.

A highly collectable reel manufacturer was S. Allcock & Co., founded around 1800 in Redditch, England, a centre of the fishing manufacturing trade at the time. Allcock’s started to make their own reels around 1873 and remained in business until the 1970s.

The large Allcock reel pictured is in the centre priced £120. The others range between £10 - £40

Hardy of Alnwick remains one of the most sought-after reel manufacturers. I remember an 1891 brass ‘Hardy Perfect’ reel fetching £17,000 at auction a few years ago, so it’s definitely a name to remember!

The most important part of an angler’s sporting equipment must be the rod itself, which can also be displayed very attractively on a collector’s walls.

Some anglers only collect for example, roach rods, others, fly rods. A set of Victorian rods, which evolved into tropical hardwoods with added gadgets, can be worth £200 to a serious collector.

From flies to clothing, 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 probably pay off: no flies on you!