J.L. Sage reels were sold between approximately 1883 and 1900. Sage was 78 when he died in 1900, which means he started making reels when he was 63. According to Dr. James L. Henshall, author of the “Book of the Black Bass”, not only did Sage make casting reels, but he also made a click fly reel. Sage was not a jeweler or watchsmith like the majority of the early Kentucky reel makers. He was apprenticed as a gun maker and maker of fine mathematical instruments in the 1850’s. He then went to work in the gas and water works business into the 1860’s. J.L. Sage reels were made in Frankfort and then in Lexington about 1887. All of his reels found have the Frankfort, KY stamp, however. The majority of the Sage reels found today are a No. 3 size and appear similar to the B.C. Milam reels. One noticeable difference between them is that Sage used Buffalo horn for the crank knob and Milam used ivory. All Sage reels are collectable and scarcer than Milam reels. Sage is considered to be one of the Great Kentucky Reel Makers.
J.L. SAGE No. 5 Narrow Spool German Silver Reel
J.L. SAGE No. 2 Brass Casting Reel
J.L. SAGE No. 2 German Silver Casting Reel
J.L. SAGE No. 3 German Silver Casting Reel
J.L. SAGE No. 4 German Silver Casting Reel
J.L. SAGE No. 3 Plated Brass Casting Reel
J.L. SAGE No. 2 Narrow Spool Brass Casting Reel
1895 Lexington, KY City Directory Full Page Ad
J.L. SAGE Tombstone
To see magazine articles written about the history of the Kentucky Reel, click on the links below.