"The Bartlett Rod" Discussion

History of the Montague Rod Co. Feel free to discuss Montague Rods here.

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Gnome
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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#141

Post by Gnome »

we have High quality rods of both wood and bamboo from Chubb and yet the High quality Pelham rods that are Identifiable remain as elusive as a Unicorn

Show me one with proof of it being from Pelham Please.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#142

Post by TEJJR »

Your request is a reasonable one. But as A.J. wrote, "Bartlett rods built from 1875 to 1905 are rare." That seems to be an understatement. If you disagree that his view that the higher quality trout and salmon models were produced in Pelham after 1906 then please share your evidence to the contrary.

What I am suggesting is that higher quality rods such as Rex illustrated from the Exposition were produced in Pelham. There is no conclusive evidence at this point and may well never be. My assessment is they were. Others will have their own views.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#143

Post by roycestearns »

Until one is found (evidence of absence), can we agree that "high end/quality" Bartlett marked rods do not exist?
If you disagree that his view that the higher quality trout and salmon models were produced in Pelham after 1906 then please share your evidence to the contrary.
I think you made the claim previously that all higher quality rods were made in Pelham.
What I do stand by is the evidence that the best of what were produced, including the "Super-Montagues," were made in Pelham.
Certainly Pelham could have made the higher quality rods after 1906. You said it best:
There is no conclusive evidence at this point and may well never be.
so would you agree your assessment is just an opinion?

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Gnome
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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#144

Post by Gnome »

My proof lies in a collection of over 200 rods with high grade examples from almost every maker listed in A.J.'s book and notably absent is a marked Bartlett rod, in 30 + years of collecting and visiting other collectors and going to museums etc. and in all of that time and the thousands and thousands of rods I have looked at in that time, not one could be classified as an identifiable high grade Bartlett rod. My proof is an absence of what is claimed to be yet does not exist to the best of our knowledge.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#145

Post by jeffkn1 »

Someone show me a "Varney reel seat".

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#146

Post by TEJJR »

If I am not mistaken you can find this on page 159 of Campbell's book. And on page 17 of my AFF article. It is my "opinion" that these photos are of the same rod, in the AMFF collection. It is also my opinion that it is likely this rod and others like it were crafted in Pelham. This is what A.J. suggests on page 157. Based on what I know, I agree with his "opinion." Others will of course have their own opinions.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#147

Post by Gnome »

we need proof that the rod pictured on page 159 "Classic Fly Rods and Fly Tackle" was made in Pelham. Please provide us with facts and not supposition. prove that rod was made in Pelham, It is also pictured on page # 154 and neither show any markings. would be nice to see if that rod is marked and what do the markings say if it is marked. I have a CV Varney and also a Montague City Mass Varney and can prove what I say. Please enlighten us with proof and not supposition.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#148

Post by jeffkn1 »

I will ask the input of some of the regulars here regarding Varney and his reel seat. Correct me where I'm wrong.

1) While employed by Leonard to make hardware, Varney came up with a simplified design that replaced long rails (the P&P style) with abbreviated rails situated approximately midway on the barrel. This was a cost saving measure because it eliminated having to cut long slots in the barrel and soldering formed rails in the slots.
2) This new way of dealing with the more troublesome longer rails is not a patent-able feature. Varney preferred this approach to the rail issue and continued using it after leaving Leonard, the seat on his self-named rod at Montague being typical.
3) When AJ spoke of the "Varney reel seat", it was implied that the name came from the concept rather than the maker, i.e. any metal seat using abbreviated rails, an example of which may be found on some of Montague's better grades and also seen on some FE Thomas rods (on pages 281,283,and 286 of the Thomas book). Just as any Montague female ferrule with the heavy welt is referred to as a 'Varney ferrule', when it's really a Varney-style, the Varney seat is one that includes a design feature he favored regardless of how executed. In summary, "Varney reel seat" was actually Varney style or Varney type, but not one made by George Varney.`
4) What a "Varney reel seat" is depends on the context in which the words are used.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#149

Post by cwfly »

He (A.J.) wrote the following on 10/7/2014:
"'cwfly wrote:
Perhaps it is time to add a few facts to this Varney thread and keep it alive.
1. Some earlier threads mention the legend that Varney worked with Leonard, and moreover the Old Collector advises that an early Bangor Leonard he saw and wrote about in his book had metalwork that looked like Varney.'


Thanks for the mention, Charlie. This thread is just old enough that it has my original handle, "Old Collector." My ongoing interest in Varney is his (supposed) reel seat. Yes, it shows up on Leonard rods made in the late 1880s, but it arrives like deja vous all over again as the original Kosmic all-metal seat, then the abbreviated end portion of the celluloid-barreled Kosmic seat. It continues, conspicuously, into the 20th century as used by Ed Payne, Fred Thomas, Billy Edwards, Hiram Hawes, Ruben Leonard, Montague, and George Varney himself.

That's a remarkable popularity. I have no idea when he first developed the seat, nor can I prove the seat was actually his brainchild and product. An 1893 newspaper article describes this seat in 5 sizes when describing his move to Pougkeepsie, and I know that Fred Thomas habitually used 3 of those sizes when ordering from "the factory." I think it's worthwhile that no rodmaking shop, anywhere, had any kind of machine that could produce this large drawn product other than the one at Montague City. This reel seat, albeit indirectly undocumented to Varney, may have been his greatest contribution to the craft."

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#150

Post by roycestearns »

The reel seat on page 159 of AJC's book has a stamp or engraving on it, can anyone decipher it

Image

Image

TEJJR
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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#151

Post by TEJJR »

We keep going around and around on this. There is unfortunately no "proof" that the pictured rod was made in Pelham by E.P. Bartlett’s crew. It is my opinion that it likely was, and again AJ seemed to hold a similar view or supposition.

Perhaps an analogy would be helpful. Ford Motors made many car models, ranging from economy to luxury brands. They were manufactured in different locations. At the top was Lincoln Continental, which for years was built in Wixom, Michigan. The workforce skill level, materials, machinery and so forth were presumably of a higher quality at Wixom than at the plants which assembled the economy models. Yet most if asked would not associate Lincolns with Wixom, but Detroit and Ford. Same with Montague and Montague City. While we don’t have the company records to prove it, I believe a similar situation existed with Montague, Montague City and Pelham.

While I won’t get into it here, I also believe the circumstantial evidence that the best of Montagues were made in Pelham involves what came in the Pioneer Valley after the company’s demise...

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TheMontyMan
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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#152

Post by TheMontyMan »

It says, "Geo. I Varney - Maker - Montague City, MA"

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#153

Post by TheMontyMan »

TEJJR wrote:I also believe the circumstantial evidence that the best of Montagues were made in Pelham involves what came in the Pioneer Valley after the company’s demise...
So, what came in the Pioneer Valley after the company's demise that you believe is circumstantial evidence that the best of Montagues were made in Pelham. Any evidence would be germane to this topic.

. . . Rex
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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#154

Post by TEJJR »

Happy to oblige. I think the craftsmanship passed from generation to generation. From E.P. to his son-in-law, Royal Aldrich, and then to his sons Mark and Leander. Especially the latter who went on in the late 1940s and early 1950s to make the rods at AFRC. Again, citing AJ, "The rods - better than a Montague or a Dunton but certainly not the equal of a Leonard or Thomas..." Except at the very end, Leander Aldrich worked his entire life in Pelham including as superintendent. Is it reasonable to think that someone who 25 years after working at Pelham (for Montague) brought this craftsmanship to bear with AFRC would not be earlier aligned with the line of Bartletts-Aldrichs at Pelham responsible for Montague's best? Seems to me to add up...

P.S. - No one has responded to my earlier comments concerning the quality of the AFRC rods relative to what came before and others of the period... Do we have no views here?

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#155

Post by Bethabara »

Well, I hate to chew my cabbage twice but:
Any cane fly rod with Nickel Silver line guides [ring & saddle or snake], ferrules with soldered welts, machined waisted barrels, and witness marks, with soldered nickel silver reel seats and roll-stamped at that time is without question, "quality".
Mike
But then, I'm just an enigma.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#156

Post by roycestearns »

I think the craftsmanship passed from generation to generation. From E.P. to his son-in-law, Royal Aldrich, and then to his sons Mark and Leander. Especially the latter who went on in the late 1940s and early 1950s to make the rods at AFRC. Again, citing AJ, "The rods - better than a Montague or a Dunton but certainly not the equal of a Leonard or Thomas..." Except at the very end, Leander Aldrich worked his entire life in Pelham including as superintendent. Is it reasonable to think that someone who 25 years after working at Pelham (for Montague) brought this craftsmanship to bear with AFRC would not be earlier aligned with the line of Bartletts-Aldrichs at Pelham responsible for Montague's best? Seems to me to add up...
Evidence starting with "I think" is thin. We've gone from the best at Pelham in the 1880's (none exist) to post 1906 Montague's best at Pelham (maybe some) to AFRC in the 40's and 50's. How that addition equals all the best at Pelham needs substantially better evidence.

Do we have "Pelham" marked rods?
P.S. - No one has responded to my earlier comments concerning the quality of the AFRC rods relative to what came before and others of the period... Do we have no views here?
This was quite well responded to by Jeff and Charlie. To put them among the best of the period is pretty high praise when you consider what was being produced and by whom.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#157

Post by TEJJR »

"Best" is a relative term. We can agree or disagree about the overall quality of rods produced by Montague but none of us would disagree that some models were "better" than others. I did not say "all" of these were made at Pelham, but I think most were. Its also possible that they all were. We will never know for certain.

My Ford Motors analogy doesn't appear to have helped. There are no Pelham-marked rods (after the early Bartlett Rod period) just as there are no Lincoln Continentals marked as "Wixom." To recall a recent part of this thread, we can generally identify a "Varney-influenced" seat because of its features and/or workmanship, and not because it is marked per se. Art historians are experts in trying to identify particular masters or workshop artisans based on circumstantial evidence. Their conclusions are in many instances controversial.

As for the AFRC rods, Jeff did offer some useful observations, although some such as the weight compared the rods to today's products and not what was preferred or acceptable at the time. I'd like to think most of us who prefer fishing with bamboo accept that its not as light as synthetic materials. His point on the length of the grip is accurate, but a personal preference. My interest in these rods involves the fine materials used and craftsmanship (including the fine taper). No one has responded to my question about Gene Edwards' possible use of Mildarbide guides and I'd still be interested to learn views on that.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#158

Post by roycestearns »

The Ford analogy - a Ford buff would know that Lincolns and T-birds came from Wixom, because it's well documented and published. If Pelham was producing all the greatest Montague's, don't you think more people would promote it, after all it wasn't "onesies and twosies" like famous art work.

I was trying to think of a better example than Ford motor. Let's use Heddon who produced everything from garden stakes to high end models (model 50 & 60). They produced a good number of the high end stuff. It's well documented, collectors know Cleo's handwriting, and start to finish, work was done by a single individual.
Why not at Pelham?

Do you really think that the best cane was selected at Montague city and sent to Pelham, or Pelham culls were sent to Montague city?

This part of the discussion is kind of pointless, as it doesn't really matter where the best of Montague came from. Is there a personal interest in your insistence that all or most of the best came out of Pelham?

AFRC - the collectors have sorted this out, the innovative hardware maybe nice but Payne, Leonard, Gillum, seem to hold the quality bamboo mantle during the 40s and 50s and there is no AFRC in that list.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#159

Post by TEJJR »

As usual you pose some good questions. All I can say as to the first is that as AJ pointed out (pg. 157), Montague writ large didn't appear to be too good at marketing. This also appears a problem that hampered AFRC. Perhaps something in the Bartlett-Aldrich genes... or more likely their constitution.

One of my article sources did mention word-of-mouth praise and sales for EP's work, but this may not have spread far and wide. Maybe it was good enough for a time, and then wasn't... On the other hand, they sold their rods through the major retailer in Chicago at the time when not many other makers were doing so. We still don't know why this was.

The second point re. Heddon is a red herring and not at all relevant to this.

Think the best cane was sent directly to Pelham. No reason for it to be selected at MC, unless people from Pelham went there to do it.

My interest in all of this is to simply advance and I hope improve the historical record involving rod making in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. I feel I have done this, as do the folks I conducted research with and at AFF/AMFF. Where the best of Montague rods were produced likely doesn't matter to most people, but for some of us its of (local) historical interest. My opinion is that the PV is one of four historically important regions in the USA associated with classic rod making.

Notice to collectors: if you have a nice AFRC rod I am interested in considering it as as an addition it to my (very select) collection. If I had a Payne, Leonard or anything else of this vintage I' trade you for it. But since I don't value these, I don't. I am not demeaning other makers, but what's important to me is the combination of fine quality and local history.

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Re: Montague Rod & Reel History

#160

Post by wrong66 »

Some people just make up history as they go along to suit their needs. I've seen it many times before. I've followed this thread as much as I can stand, hoping it would lead to something concrete. It continues to go in circles. Nobody is going to change what he "thinks". Nobody.

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