In reading the classifieds of the local newspaper this week, I noticed a couple of garage sales advertising "old" fishing stuff. So... I had to go you know.
The first garage sale was a big disappointment. The only fishing stuff I found was three plugs and they certainly weren't old by any means. I left this place in rather short fashion and drove about two miles down the road to the next sale touting fishing stuff. Here... it was a little different story. Of course I was looking for fly fishing stuff but struck out in that department, but I did find two bait casting reels that were forty to fifty years old. Now, I really don't have any use for bait casting reels but I do like to collect anything fishing as long as it's fairly aged. I figured the guy wanted ten bucks or better for each so when he said, "I'll take a dollar for 'em", I threw my money down and started to run. Again, bait casting reels hold hardly anything for me since I strictly fly fish, but they can be passed down to a grandchild or maybe there's a fishing museum out there that will be interested.
As I was trotting to the car after stealing these reels, something else caught my eye. It was a 1909 Sears and Roebuck catalog. Actually, it was a 1979 reprint of a 1909 Sears and Roebuck catalog. I stopped long enough to thumb through this book and there in black and white was the outdoor section... and the guy only wanted a dollar for the book... so I threw another dollar down and ran like crazy this time.
Back home I turned to page 315 and it is here that we can see that in 1909 we could have purchased a number of split bamboo fly rods for mere dollars. Sears bottom line bamboo was the Acme that measured 9 1/2 to 10 feet in length and sold for the mail order price of... 82 cents. That's right, 82 cents.
Next was their special Willowemock bamboo rod for just $1.50 and it was also 9 1/2 to 10 feet in length. And then there was there Sunday Pocket Fly Rod that was a six piece rod outfit with two tip sections and you could sack this puppy up for $2.85.
Can you imagine coming in possession of one of these 1909 bamboo rods, offered by Sears and Roebuck, complete with original paperwork and any other packaging? What would such a prize be worth today?
On page 316 was there selection of fly reels and only two were listed. One was the Carlton Ideal Reel and it was offered for the incredible price of 85 cents... which is less than the cup of coffee I buy each morning.
If the Carlton didn't suit you, you could have acquired one of those automatic retrieve jobbers in the form of the Kelson for just a couple of dollars more... total price actually was $3.25. Bells and whistles do cost a little more.
I guess I find it most amazing how little things use to cost, and how the people that made them could make any money. Seems like the world truly has went and got in a big damn frenzied rush, where we fixate on turning product (usually inferior), and turning that dollar... day in, day out, twenty-four hours solid.
Sad thing actually.