America Meek Co reels started as the America Company of Rockford, IL. Reels were based on the 1902 patent of William S. Sutton of Belvidere, IL. Sutton was granted a patent on February 18, 1902 that covered the quick take-down head plate and the use of ball bearings for the shafts of the spool and the drive gear. The 1903 Rockford, IL City Directory lists Sutton as the Superintendent at the America Company. The America Company address changed several times over a few years. In 1904, America Company ads show the address as 660 Race Street in Rockford. Later that same year the address is listed as 662 Race Street. And finally that same year, it’s address is listed as 670 Race Street. In 1906, the company listed its new address first as 91 North Street, Momence, IL and later as 153 North Street. The America Company failed in 1907 and was forced to sell all the company assets.
America Company offered a variety of models over a short 3 year period from 1904 to 1906. The first models were the No’s 1 and 2 ball bearing reels and cost $6. In 1905 the No. 12 was introduced. Instead of ball bearings, it had steel pivot bearings and was constructed of nickel plated brass. The No’s 3 and 32 were also introduced in 1905 and were made of German silver, or German silver and aluminum. The No. 32 cost $12.50.
Around 1903, Sylvanus Meek, the son of famous reel maker B.F. Meek, went to work for The America Company. He was responsible for the addition of a high quality German silver reel into the new America reel line. His reel was named the “America-Meek” reel and was introduced in 1904. The America-Meek reels that Sylvanus made for the America Company were expensive. They cost from $35 to $70 depending on specifications. Specifications for a reel could range from trout to tarpon size. The America-Meek reels found to date are marked a No. 22 and a No. 26. The No. 22 is similar in size to a regular B.F. Meek No. 3. The No. 26 is comparable in size to a B.F. Meek No. 7 reel. I doubt very many were made. As a matter of fact, the America-Meek reel was dropped from the America Company ads in 1905. That means the America-Meek reels were only made for about one year. There seems to have been a falling out between Sylvanus and the America Company.
The Richardson Level winder was another interesting feature incorporated on some of the America reels. Harry H. Richardson of Beaver Falls, PA assigned his April 17, 1906 patent to the America Company. The interesting looking level winder had a worm gear shaft which sat in eccentric holders on each end. By rotating the line guide forward, the crank gear and the worm gear would disengage. This allowed the spool to turn more freely during a cast.
The AMERICA-MEEK No. 22 and 26 Reels
AMERICA-MEEK No. 22 Reel w/RICHARDSON Level Winder
The AMERICA-MEEK No. 22 Reel
The Large AMERICA-MEEK No. 26 Reel
AMERICA COMPANY No. 32 Reel w/RICHARDSON Level Wind
The AMERICA COMPANY No. 12 Reel
The AMERICA COMPANY No. 1 Reel
The AMERICA COMPANY No. 2 Reel
Comparison of The AMERICA COMPANY No. 1 and 2 Reels
AMERICA-MEEK 1906 Brochure
AMERICA COMPANY 1904 and 1905 Ads
AMERICA COMPANY 1906 Ads
AMERICA Reels in 1911 Thomas J. Conroy Catalog
WILLIAM SUTTON’s February 18, 1902 Patent
To read a detailed history of Sylvanus Meek and the America Company, click on the link below.
Another Great Antique Vintage Fishing Tackle Link: