J.F. & B.F. Meek reels were made by the two brothers Jonathan and Benjamin starting in 1839. Jonathan F. Meek was a jeweler and watch smith in Frankfort, KY. He specialized in making jewelry and repairing watches. The Meek name first appeared on Kentucky reels in the late 1830’s. In 1839, Jonathan formed a partnership with his brother Benjamin as his apprentice. They made reels marked “J.F. & B.F. Meek” from about 1839 to 1852. The reels were typically made on brass, but some have been found made of German silver or sterling silver.
The earliest reels are simply marked with the “J.F. & B.F. MEEK” name and city in which they were made – Frankfort, KY. Later reels were also marked with a reel size like No. 2, No. 3, etc. The reel size indicates the reel’s line capacity. The larger the number, the larger the reel. Another apprentice with the Meeks was Benjamin C. Milam. He was hired in 1848. At this time, the company name was J.F. Meek & Co. In 1852 the company failed and J.F. Meek moved to Louisville. B.F. Meek stayed in Frankfort, and with B.C. Milam, formed a new company “Meek & Milam.” J.F. & B.F. Meek are considered to be a couple of the great Kentucky Reel makers.
J.F. & B.F. MEEK No. 6 Sterling Silver Reel
J.F. & B.F. MEEK No. 1 German Silver Reel
J.F. & B.F. MEEK No. 2 Brass Reel
J.F. & B.F. MEEK No. 1 Brass Reel
J.F. & B.F. MEEK Advertising Insert Inside Watch Case
To see magazine articles written about the history of the Kentucky Reel, click on the links below.
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