Cast From the Past: Billinghurst Birdcage Reels

Photo Credit:  Jim Schottenham

The birdcage reels are an iconic American design and invention. These reels, named for their wire open-ring, cage-like constructions were side-mounted horizontally on the rod, preceding those designed by Orvis and others to be mounted upright below the rod. William Billinghurst, one of the first side-mount reel makers of birdcage style reels, was issued a patent in 1854.

Photo Credit:  Jim Schottenham


These Billinghurst birdcage reels are from the collection of Jim Schottenham, a past President of the Old Reel Collectors Association (ORCA) and an appraiser and manager at Lang’s Auction.

Photo Credit:  Jim Schottenham

The Billinghurst box is the only one ever found to date and the Giant Billinghurst reel is one of only two ever made.

Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.


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