This fly wallet was the top of the line “Bray” model sold by Dame Stoddard in Boston circa 1895. The fly book was available in leather and cloth with celluloid pages and felt dividers, and in a deluxe alligator version with a sterling silver clasp and nameplate.
The Bray wallets were often stuffed with early wet flies tied to gut in such patterns as the Black Gnat, the Professor, the Montreal, Silver Doctor, Scarlet Ibis, or Reuben Wood. Wet fly patterns were more common in the early days of fly fishing and full sets of unfished flies are increasingly rare.
The celluloid pages contained fasteners for each fly and felt dividers to absorb moisture in between fishing trips.
As touted in an A. G. Spaulding advertisement of the day: “In this Bray Fly Book, the flies may be as quickly attached as to throw in an envelope, and at the same time perfectly secure, while they may be as easily detached.”
“The book is made of good materials and in the best possible manner. The best book in the world.”
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.