Friday, January 25, 2008


A Few Lines About Lines is the title that I have chosen to use for my new blog about vintage fishing lines.

I have chosen it because it states with simple brevity the sole objective of my blog – which is to periodically share a few lines of information about lines. More specifically, to share information about those old fishing lines on wooden spools that we collectors of antique fishing tackle will occasionally encounter in the pursuit of our collecting hobby.

There has been very little published previously to help my fellow tackle collectors to identify and value those old wooden spools of fishing lines that we find from time to time in our search for lures, rods, and reels. Likewise, there has not been very much information published about the people, firms, and history of this important segment of America’s fishing tackle industry.

Accordingly, I hope to help fill that void of information both with this blog and by completing and publishing a book, America’s Vintage Fishing Lines that I have been researching and writing for the past several years.

By sharing some of the knowledge that I have gained over these past several years about vintage fishing lines I hope to help my fellow antique tackle collectors to acquire an entirely new respect for those old fishing line spools that we find and to also acquire greater appreciation and knowledge about the significant role that the fishing line industry has played as it relates to our fishing tackle collecting hobby.

By the way, the title of my new “fishing lines” blog, A FEW LINES ABOUT LINES, is actually borrowed. The title was originally used in 1915 for a booklet that was published by the Ashaway Line and Twine Company of Ashaway Rhode Island.

Front and Back Cover of Ashaway's A FEW LINES ABOUT LINES published in 1915

This forty page booklet served as a sales and promotional piece for the company’s fishing line products and provided a brief history of the Ashaway company which actually began as the Crandall Line Company in 1824.

The story of the Swastika Brand describes the history of the company

This 1915 booklet explains the story of Ashaway’s choice of the Swastika as their company’s trade mark. Collectors may be surprised and interested to learn that the Swastika was actually considered a positive symbol for thousands of years, and was used as a “good luck” symbol for many centuries, in many countries and by many different cultures.

The Swastika was used long before it was ever adopted by Hitler and the Nazis and was always considered a positive symbol before it eventually acquired the negative connotations that we associate with it today.

Ashaway only used the Swastika trade mark on their fishing line labels between the years 1902 – 1933, and then discontinued its use after Hitler and the Nazi party came to power in Germany in the early 1930s and adopted the Swastika as their national symbol.

The presence or absence of the Swastika on the Ashaway fishing line label is one of the main tools that can help collectors to determine the age or time period that their particular fishing lines were made.

Ashaway’s booklet A FEW LINES ABOUT LINES also included many pages showing copies of letters that had been sent to Ashaway from some of the most prominent fishing tackle merchants and exclusive fishing clubs in America offering both their praise and endorsement of Ashaway’s fishing lines.

Thomas J. Conroy's 1915 Letter sent to praise Ashaway's Products

The Tuna Club endorsed Ashaway's lines in this 1915 letter

The Ashaway booklet A FEW LINES ABOUT LINES is considered to be quite a desirable and historic collector’s item, since it represent the very first known artistic use by Ashaway of the large orange ball (representing the sun) which was to appear just a few years later (1925) as an integral part of their Swastika trade mark that appeared on the reverse side labels of their fishing line spools.

The orange ball, or “sun rising from the ocean” (both with and without the Swastika in the center of the sun), featured on the back side labels of Ashaway's line spools can provide collectors with an important dating tool to them determine the age of their Ashaway line spools.

As to the booklet itself, an original copy of Ashaway’s 1915 publication, A FEW LINES ABOUT LINES, would be considered quite a rare find today. A collector can generally expect to pay as much as $150.00 - $200.00 to acquire a clean example with tight bindings and with no damaged or missing pages.

Below are some examples of the back side labels and the approximate time periods in which these labels were used by Ashaway.

This information should help my fellow fishing tackle collectors to better determine the approximate age of their Ashaway line spools -

Circa 1902 - 1915

Circa 1915 - 1925

Circa late 1920s to early 1930s

Circa 1924/1925 Rare Transition Logo

Circa 1925 - 1933

Circa 1934 - 1936

Circa 1937 - 1942

Circa 1943

Circa 1940s

Circa 1950s

Until my next posting here, please feel free to email me at if you have questions about the age or values of your old fishing line spools.


phil sommerville said...

John, always enjoy your history notes & pictures. You are a valuable resource of information & help. Thanks again, Phil Sommerville PS: still looking for Kingfisher items.

Roxy said...

John ran across your informative sight and was wondering if you could help me.
I have two in the box never used, Ashaways nylon lead deep trolling line. was wondering if you could give any info on it as to how old it might be. there are two 40 lb text, 100 yards each in each box. There is a nuber on the box of #3540C, The box has a smal label in it that show the line has ten colors. The back of the label reads: wr kwik-way, the myer cord company chicago, Ilinois, made in USA and some numbers #20116 and #228-4-64. The label in the boxon the line says ashaway and to try :ashaways new trolling technique with mono-griffin splice: The line in wrapped in a square around a "X" made of green wood.
Any info would be of great help as it appears you know alot about Ashaway. Loved your sight.
Thanks so much.
Roxy Pebley

Silhouette Shenanigans said...

I collect ZANE GREY branded ashaway line and related material, if you or anyone else wants to sell or trade, please let me know! great site. thanks- daniel