Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Estate Sale Finds, Otto Swarg Fishing Reels, and an Ebay Story

A fishing real is an implement whereby we catch a nice meal or gain some relaxation and perhaps some satisfaction at catching a fish (a major accomplishment for us non-fishermen). As the One Who Must Be Obeyed and I like to occasion Estate Sales, it was at one of these excursions that I happened across a beautifully crafted reel (see below). I recognized it as being something special, but did not have an inkling at that time just how special it really was.

To the untrained eye it just looks like a fishing reel. This is what I found on the web about Otto Swarg, the maker of this reel:

"World War II brought about the end to a lot of the great fishing tackle companies including Edward vom Hofe. Otto Zwarg was the head reel maker at the vom Hofe company. After it went out of business, he acquired the rights to the designs. He set up production for one year in Brooklyn, NY in 1946. He then moved the business to St. Petersburg, FL in 1947. The reels were made up until 1960, which was 3 years after Otto Zwarg's death. The reels came in three basic models - Model 300 Saguenay Fly/Salmon Reel, Model 400 Laurentian Multiplying Fly/Salmon Reel and the Model 600 Maximo Salt Water Reel. The Maximo was named after Maximo Point in St. Petersburg, FL. This was a famed fishing spot since the first local settler Antinio Maximo established a "fish ranch" on the point in 1843. The Saguenay was named in honor of the celebrated salmon river. All Zwarg reels are collectable and the ones marked Brooklyn are the most scarce."

Now what the web sites don't really tell you is that these were handcrafted, custom made reels that used the highest quality materials and were highly sought after by hardcore sport fisherman. Because they were made in such limited numbers, they are some of the most highly sought after reels in the world and can command some serious prices!

While doing my research, I found a site that listed this reel, a  Model 300 Saguenay Fly/Salmon Reel, with a pre-auction estimate of $1,200-1,500. At this point, I got a little excited about the prospect (as my son would say) of making a little bank. That evening, I took photos and listed it on Ebay, starting at $249.99. By the next morning, it had a bid on it and had around 10 watchers (number people who bookmark the auction). That week was certainly an exciting one as the bids came in and the reel steadily climbed higher and higher. Interestingly enough, all the bids came from foreign buyers....Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and England. By the end of the auction the number of watchers reached 80 and the reel had reached 4 figures! Now I'm not sure if I should tell what it sold for, as I think that some people have more money than sense, but let's say the auction estimate was a little low! The buyer, located in Sweden, was incredibly happy when he got the reel and described it as absolutely stunning!

The long and short of this story.....Otto Zwarg is one of the reasons I love Estate Sales!
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