This article begins with an extremely rare version of the 3” wide drum Perfect, It is fitted with Hardy’s Patent revolving Line guide. As far as we know this line guide was never catalogued or offered for the 3” wide drum Perfect. Though out of sequence it seemed appropriate to make it the leading reel. Its check work is covered amongst the other reels shown below.
This article was originally conceived some long time ago but was set aside for various reasons. These reasons included my own indisposition, the demise of the ‘Antique Tackle Observer’- which at the time I thought would be short-lived. Alas, like so many other events in all our lives the period of hibernation of the magazine has proved to be somewhat longer than predicted, however, the re-emergence of the ‘Antique Tackle Observer’ online is welcomed.
This article shows all the different ‘checks’ fitted to the 3” wide drum Perfect throughout its period of production of some 50 years.
The 3″ inch Perfect was first listed by Hardy’s in 1891 and continued to appear in the catalogues until the outbreak of World War two in 1939, though it was amongst the reels suspended from production due to the first World War. The precise period of suspension is not known as notification of this decision did not appear until the 1917 catalogue was issued. As no catalogue was issued for 1916 it is possible that the reference to suspension would have appeared then – with the decision having been actioned in 1915.
Given the lack of demand for this reel we believe that no reels containing the 1917 check were ever produced in the 3” size – though we would like to hear to the contrary.
The first reel of the nine in this size which comprise the subject of this article is the all brass 3” wide drum Perfect with solid drum.
This reel has the early version of the check with the ratchet Pawl secured in position by an ‘S’ spring. Pressure was applied to the pawl through a ‘C’ spring under control of a rim mounted regulator screw which controlled the presser slide movement.
This method of rim mounted regulator control remained standard throughout the Perfect range excepting only some rare ‘Silent Check’ models, ie those fitted with a constant pressure non – adjustable spring plate which applied drag to the inner rear face of the line drum.
The 3” all brass Perfect is an extremely rare reel and should be acquired if seen.
The second reel pictured is a 3” Brass faced reel. Note, the ‘S’ the spring securing the pawl has been deleted.
This principle of applying drag remained in use for several years with only slight changes to the thickness of the flat ‘C’ spring, presumably to extend the life of the spring – and to reduce the possibility of failure.
Around 1905 the design of the ‘C’ spring was revised from a flat spring to one with the side arms standing at right angles to the frame face. Again, it is likely that this change added strength to the spring and allowed for greater pressure to be applied to the pawl to increase the drag. This re-designed ‘C’ spring complete with modified presser slide is shown in reel number 4.
Reel number 5 introduced the all new check first referred to in the 1911 Catalogue – but not pictured until the 1912 catalogue. Reference to the new check was made in the 1911 catalogue in the text describing the newly introduced 3.3/4” St. George reel. Commonly referred to as the 1912 check- it was probably being manufactured during the latter part of 1910. This check work rapidly became a favourite amongst anglers, and its desirability both to fishermen and collectors persists to this day. It is seen here in a left hand wind Perfect fitted with a solid face plate to the drum. In this configuration it is an extremely rare reel.
This reel is possibly unique having check work comprising components from the 1912 check and what is perhaps the prototype presser bar for the 1917 check work. Here we have to consider the circumstances which existed at the time. The country was engaged in a war the end of which was not in sight. We know that certain components and materials were either in short supply or simply not available – ball races are but one example. Other action taken to combat the predictable shortages generated by the conflict – of materials and certain alloys – included the suspension from manufacture of certain reels from the company’s product line referred to above. This in turn encouraged the search for economies and the 1912 check which had been some five years in production was an obvious candidate for revision. The arrangement and design of components developed further into what we now call the 1917 check. (See Reel 10 below). By this means Hardy’s had not only managed to keep to their policy of introducing modifications roughly every five years – but had designed and produced a check which was not just functional – but also satisfied the need for economy of material and was cheaper to manufacture and assemble. It is possible the reel shown here was a prototype which either ‘escaped’ from the factory or was sold rather than being dismantled after its construction.
Reel number 7 shows the jump from the 1912 check through the check of reel number 6 to the new 1921 check fitted to the wide drum Perfect. This 1921 check was eventually to be improved for 1922 by the inclusion internally – on the same inner face – of a spare spring and pawl. The purpose of this was to ensure that in the event of a spring or pawl failure – or loss – the angler could continue fishing by simply fitting the spare components.
Reel 8 shows the final version of the 1922 check work with the spares repositioned for engagement with the toothed wheel if – or when required. This revision occurred during 1928 but was not pictured in the catalogue until 1929.
Picture 9. The reader will now look quickly at this reel and think 1917 check. While it is similar to the 1917 check fitted in the narrow drum Perfect from that date – this Reel actually dates from around the middle 1940s. This can be determined by the black paint applied to the reel components. Most of the black paint has been removed – or worn off the drum face and the handle plate – but remains intact on its other surfaces. The missing ‘spare’ components would allow for another reel to be made – albeit also without spares. Reel 9 shows the 3” wide drum issued during the war years with single check and no spares. This was the final version of the reel issued during wartime of the 3” wide drum reel – it was not re-issued following the end of hostilities.
This foregoing is not the extent of the information concerning these reels. We need now to consider other factors which may have gone unnoticed by the casual reader or indeed the casual collector which have a significant impact upon the scarcity – and hence the value – of the 3”Perfect.
Let us consider first the period during which the reel was introduced. It is common knowledge that game fishing was largely the preserve of the wealthy and very few ordinary people could afford to participate in the sport. It would be another sixty or seventy years and two world wars later before it became the mass pursuit that it is today, demand for expensive fishing reels during this long period remained relatively low.
So what does this mean for the 3” Perfect? A study of the production figures for this size reel shows that between 1925 and 1937 some 214 reels were sold. We need at this point to remember that there were other suppliers of quality fishing tackle in business in this country. Several of these would no doubt have wealthy clients who for one reason or another preferred reels made by them, all of which reduced the potential for sales of Hardy’s products. Other factors which would also have impacted upon demand for reels in general were – the depressions of 1921 and 1926, and the 1929 economic crash in the United States. This was accompanied by an increase in import duty to 29% for fishing tackle imported into the States.
Taking all these factors into account and studying the known production figures available for the period, it is unlikely that total numbers of the 3”wide drum Perfect exceeded more than 300 Reels.