The Livingtson Wallet from the American Museum of Fly Fishing
(Photo and Text Credit: American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester, Vermont)
This fly wallet including some beautiful trout and lake flies with custom illustrations belonged to Robert LaRhett Livingston (1844-1907) and his son Robert Forsyth Livingston (1886-1950). Robert Forsyth Livingston, a resident of Long Island, held a deep fascination for the water that would sharply influence his life. He worked in the marine insurance industry, built his own sailboats (as well as beautiful cabinets and weather vanes), and fished his entire life.
As Long Island residents, the Livingstons, not surprisingly, bought most of their tackle at Abbey & Imbrie. In addition to the fly wallets, their collection also includes items from local tackle makers such as Empire City (an A & I trademark), Vom Hofe, Leonard, and Kiffe.
The importance of this collection lies in the fact that the Livingstons were lifelong anglers who showed taste and discretion in their selections. While they were not by any means famous people, the Livingston collection is one of the most important groups of artifacts in the American Museum of Fly Fishing.
The items that the two men accumulated over almost 70 years present the student of fly-fishing history with an invaluable look at the kind of tackle and equipment owned by the average angler in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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.