William Shakespeare Reels – Kalamazoo, MI

William Shakespeare reels were made by one of the earliest companies of the now classic reel makers and was founded by William Shakespeare, Jr. in 1897. On October 5, 1897, William Shakespeare, Jr. was granted his first patent for his now famous reel with a twin worm gear level winding mechanism. This patent was followed in the next few years by a number of patents improving features on his reels. In 1903, Shakespeare and Walter Marhoff co-patented the thumb wheel rim click. They would work together until Marhoff received his reel patent in 1907 and assigned it to his own company, The Marhoff Reel Co. The reel was eventually incorporated into The Shakespeare line. In 1915 the company name was changed to the Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare continued to make a wide range of fishing reels, rods, lures and tackle for many years. They were also involved in the World War II effort and made bomb sights.

The first William Shakespeare reels sold by the William Shakespeare, Jr. Co. were the Standard reel and the Style “C” twin screw level wind reel. Both reels are marked “Hand Made”. The Style “C” was silver plated. The twin screw reel was shown in the 1907 catalog as being offered in the Style “A” and Style “B”. The “A” was German silver and the “B” was nickel plated brass. All three Style reels are serialized. Also listed in this catalog were the Universal, Favorite, Alamo, Service, Marquette, Standard and German silver Professional. Beginning in 1910, the model number on the bottom of the reel foot indicated the year the reel was made. This year marking continued up until 1931. The marking then went to a dual letter date code which signified the year made. Using the table below as the key, a reel marked Model HE was made in 1936. This key was used up until 1977 when the company was sold.

shakespeare date code

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. STYLE C Reel, circa 1900

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. STANDARD Reel, circa 1900

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. Model A Reel, circa 1910

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. Style B Reel, circa 1910

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. PROFESSIONAL No. 2 Short Spool Reel, 1902

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. STANDARD PROFESSIONAL Reel, Model 1910

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. INTRINSIC Reel, Model 1912

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. STANDARD PROFESSIONAL Reel, Model 1912

The Wm. SHAKESPEARE JR. PERFECT Reel, Model 1912

The SHAKESPEARE COMPANY PROFESSIONAL Reel, Model 1919

The SHAKESPEARE COMPANY MARHOFF Reel, Model 1922

The SHAKESPEARE COMPANY STANDARD Reel, Model 1922

The SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, ABBEY & IMBRIE “AMAWALK” Reel

The SHAKESPEARE COMPANY PROFESSIONAL Reel, Model 1924

The SHAKESPEARE COMPANY IDEAL Reel, Model 1924

SHAKESPEARE COMPANY STANDARD PROFESSIONAL FREE-SPOOL Reel, Model 26

SHAKESPEARE COMPANY TOURNAMENT FREE-SPOOL Reel, Model 26

SHAKESPEARE HERCULES 200 Yard Reel

SHAKESPEARE Reel Made For LOU EPPINGER CO., Model 25N


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SHAKESPEARE Ad in 1901 “RECREATION” Magazine

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1905 SHAKESPEARE Magazine Ad


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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, JR. COMPANY 1902 Catalog


The WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, JR. 1909 Catalog

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Another Great Antique Vintage Fishing Tackle Link:

https://luresnreels.com