Author Topic: Lyon & Coulson Varden  (Read 3241 times)

Ron Mc

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Lyon & Coulson Varden
« on: August 01, 2007, 05:46:59 AM »
I have been collecting fly reels for years.  It started with a need to balance vintage cane rods. 
At one point I decided to concentrate on between-the-wars reels made by JW Young & Sons in Redditch, England.  They used to say that the best of both worlds is an English reel on an American rod.  I still find it to be true. 

Aside from their quality, the interesting thing about these reels is that it's very rare to find one marked as JW Young & Sons, even though this shop was the largest reelmaker in the UK from sometime in the 1920s until they stopped their production line in 2002.  (Grandson Jim Young and his craftsmen are still making handmade centrepin reels.) 

James William Young opened his own shop in 1905, but before that had been a foreman for S. Allcock Company.  As a supplier to Allcock, he and his sons maintained a traditional servant's role placing their mark only on their export reels (principally to Canada and Australia/NZ).  Virtually all of their prewar reels will be marked only with the name of the catalog merchant that was selling the reel.  I do have an example reel from Canada that is marked with the merchant's mark and with JW Young & Sons.  It was only after WWII that the largest reelmaker in England began principally marking their reels with their own maker's mark. 

c. 1930 Australia export reel - this one turned on the lights for me


This reel is a Young st. george "clone" (their answer to the Hardy St. George), c. 1939.  It was sold as The Varden by Lyon & Coulson of Buffalo, NY. 

This is the first reel in my prewar JW Young collection marked for a US merchant, and is the pinnacle piece in my collection - the culmination of years of collecting and trading.  Other known US merchant marks on Young-made export reels are Wm. Mills & Son, Edward vom Hofe, and Richardson Rod Co. of Chicago.  (Young also made many of the Orvis Battenkills in the late 60s and early 70s.) 













I have a couple more of the same pattern reel, one marked for Milward and another unmarked - neither quite so pristine - that I fish, and consider these the best-fishing reels that I own. 


if you're interested in going back even further: 
http://antiquetackleobserver.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36&Itemid=9
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 07:33:05 PM by Ron Mc »
the rods are never obsolete - the marketing is

Larry Offner

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Re: Lyon & Coulson Varden
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2007, 07:06:39 PM »
Great article Ron!  Now you've given me a new bug ;D
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Ron Mc

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Re: Lyon & Coulson Varden
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2007, 07:10:13 PM »
of course collections are always in transition, but here is mine early last year: 
http://orcaonline.org/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3301
many of those are gone - the smallest Dingley, all of the Pfluegers, all of the American "perfects", a couple of bait reels, and a collection of skeletons not photographed - (none of the Youngs); others added...

here's a fun one, a Young Revolution, s/n 92 - dated the last month the Young shop was open:   



I fish this on a 9' 7-wt. Fisher Sterling graphite.  It has the traditional bicycle hub and spokes of the Allcocks Aerial  (which were also all made by Young). 
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 07:53:27 PM by Ron Mc »
the rods are never obsolete - the marketing is

Larry Offner

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Re: Lyon & Coulson Varden
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2007, 05:38:49 AM »
Okay Ron,

This is probably a broad and stupid question, but how do you get started collecting fly reels?  Where do you purchase them?  Ebay?  How do you know if you're getting a good deal?  Is there a buyer's guide?  Is that enough questions for you?  Whoops... sorry! ;D

Uncle Larry
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Ron Mc

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Re: Lyon & Coulson Varden
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2007, 06:58:45 AM »
As I mentioned above - vintage reels work better on vintage rods than modern reels.  Then for me, the rest is enjoying rebuilding them.  Many reels have passed through my hands, both reels that I've bought, sold and traded, and reels that I have rebuilt for others. 

some (especially the nicer ones) came from trades and buying from other collectors on bamboo fly rod boards - when somebody is trying to get his funds together in a hurry to final fund delivery of a new cane rod, really great deals can pop up.  I have collector friends across both oceans that I may have hunt down and broker items for me, and I will return the favor. 

most of my reels have come from ebay.uk
I have my search algorithms set up and check all the reels every few days over my morning coffee. 
In order to get the best deals, I hunt for reels there that are not listed on ebay.com here.  Most of these will also not list shipping to the US, so I contact the seller before I bid. 
the one thing never to do is get in a bidding war with another collector.  Be patient and wait for the right buy. 

I fund my habit by reel repairs and converting vintage RHW reels to LHW (where possible).  I have a reputation for this work that crosses the big pond. 

"Trading up"  is the collector's goal.  Again, I have the ability to sell my reels because of my reputation in cleaning, rebuilding and tuning. and I will be the first to say that if I'm selling a reel you will get your money's worth, because it will be ready to fish another generation.  So when I have a reel to sell, and list it on Clark's bamboo fly rod board, etc., they are usually snapped up in hours.   (There are also a couple of bamboo rod builders that ask me to contact them first whenever I have a reel to sell, because they like to offer them to their rod buyers.) 

OK - sorry - trading up.  I purchased this reel because of its mark - JW Young and the merchant R&W Kerr Montreal - I spent a lot of time working on it, replaced the bad handle with Ivory and sold it for twice my purchase price. 

in a good day of ebay providence - I guess nobody else was looking - I bought this reel from Canada for the selling price of the reel above - the box is worth as much as the reel. 



There is a very forward-thinking Young reel design - the Valdex, that was too far ahead of its time, and only made from 1959 to 62.  I had a good one, tuned and sold it for the same price as I was able to buy this Unused reel from a UK collector. 




For the mint Valdex, I was able to trade for this Ogden Smiths Exchequer (by Young), which is probably the nicest example in the world.  The reel is a great piece of Engineering.  It has a palming rim, an adjustable drag in addition to the click-pawl which can be disengaged.  The spool rides on two aircraft control system ball bearings (Young was secretly gearing up to build the firing trigger mechanism for Hurricane and later Spitfire fighters at the time).  The agate line slides in the frame and spins freely.  But it's basically the 90s fly reel from 1939.  So if you follow through my progression to acquire this reel, not counting my time as valuable, I ended up paying out $75 for a reel that is worth well over $400 and will appreciate in value. 




I bought this reel, sold it at a profit to a cane rod fisher

On the day he has his new rod funding fire sale, I bought this one from him for the same price as the one I had sold him (he sold that one, also). 


so that's how you trade up. 

if you want to learn about reels, there are collector's bulletin boards and organizations that have essentially sprung up around ebay and our combined interest in our sport (also for anything you want to collect, knives, Lionel trains, Japanese dolls...). 
here's a few about reels: 
http://orcaonline.org/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/
http://p205.ezboard.com/fclarksclassicflyrodforumfrm8
http://p099.ezboard.com/ffiberglassflyroddersfrm22


you can buy printed buyers' guides, but the market changes because of increasing interest and the fact that they are items not being made anymore. 
One of the best ways, though, is to keep up with items you're interested in on ebay, and check results from auction houses, such as Langs and Mullock-Madeley. 
http://www.mullockmadeley.co.uk/sporting/listcatelogues.php
« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 09:42:16 AM by Ron Mc »
the rods are never obsolete - the marketing is