A controversy 100 years in the making

Are there EARLIER 1st Era Goodwin Granger Rods out there?

April 2020

100 years ago this month, Goodwin Granger & Co. ran their first advertisements with images depicting an actual rod. Prior to that, (April 1919 – March 1920) Granger ads contained very simple text with an illustration of a fisherman. (You can view the complete collection of Goodwin Granger ads here.)

To date, this is the earliest image that we have of any Granger rod. It comes from the April 1920 issue of Outdoor Life.

April 1920 Outdoor Life Ad
April 1920 Outdoor Life Ad

 

It is widely believed that the earliest Granger rods had reel seats like the one on this 1st Era Special:

Goodwin Granger 1st Era Special 9050
Goodwin Granger 1st Era Special 9050
Goodwin Granger 1st Era Special 9050
Goodwin Granger 1st Era Special 9050

Visual Comparison

The reel seat shown on the April 1920 Granger advertisement above, appears much different than that of the “earliest” known Special. The reel seat from the Special actually matches perfectly with the rods depicted in the NEXT series of ads beginning in April 1921.

April 1921 Outdoor Life Ad
April 1921 Outdoor Life Ad

 

The Controversy

Let’s take a closer look at the zoomed in reel seats from different examples of the same first photo ads (all from April 1920 to March 1921).

Early-Reel-Seats_SM
Early Reel Seats from 6 different Granger ads (1920-1021)

You’ll notice the reel seat shaft appears like it may be slotted. This is debatable since the photo is a series of half-tone dots and it may just be a reflection… or slots/rails. What is not debatable is the size of the elongated hooded end cap. Compare this reel seat with the one on the “earliest” Granger Special above, and there is a clear difference.

 

Possible Explanation

Looking at JUST the advertisements (remember, we don’t have photo catalogs prior to 1923), We may have not yet seen a Granger rod that dates prior to April 1921. None of the known first era rods in prominent Granger collections exhibit a reel seat that resembles anything close to the ones in those first photo ads.

Perhaps these are from the very early days when Goodwin Granger was building rods and selling them out of the Granger Brothers Mercantile.

Do you have an early Granger Rod with a reel seat that resembles those in the 1920’s ads above?  Please contact us immediately if you do.

Please post a comment below if you have any further information that may shed some light on this subject. We’d appreciate hearing from you.

Newly Discovered Wright & McGill Catalogs

A New Understanding of Early Wright & McGill Catalogs

We know from existing evidence that Wright & McGill purchased Granger Rods in 1946, but did not have rods available for purchase until “late” 1947—most likely around September 1947 according to ads from that time period.

All previously published W&M documentation, depicts the “first catalog” from 1947 showing a full-bleed photo of actor Dennis Morgan on the cover. It turns out that there are at least 4 separate catalogs (that we currently know of) that use the Dennis Morgan photo for the cover. So which Dennis Morgan catalog is actually the first one?

The catalog that we have thus far believed to be the “first catalog” is shown here:

Early 1948 WM Catalog Cover SM

It turns out, that this is actually a W&M catalog from 1948 or as late as 1949.  How can we be sure if there are no copyright or published dates on these early catalogs?  The Champion grade was offered in the first year from Wright & McGill, but is not present in any of the W&M catalogs with the FULL-BLEED cover photo of Dennis Morgan.

An earlier catalog has been discovered—that hasn’t been published until now—that contains the same Dennis Morgan cover photo, only not as a full-bleed image. The photo is inset into the cover with 2 red lines and descriptive text below. This cover possesses a unique design compared to the later catalogs in that: 1) the masthead does not include the name “Wright & McGill”, 2) the Granger script is white—not red, and 3) the fonts used for “Fishing Rods” are completely different typefaces.

The “New” 1947 Wright & McGill Catalog

Most importantly, this “new” 1947 catalog contains the Champion grade rod on page 10.  See below…

 

1947 WM Catalog Cover SM
“NEW” 1947 WM Catalog Cover
1947 WM Catalog pg10
1947 WM Catalog pg10
1947 WM Catalog Back Cover
1947 WM Catalog Back Cover

 

The Two – 1948 Wright & McGill Catalogs

Next in line are two catalogs from 1948. These catalogs are nearly identical except for the way that each declares: “All prices subject to change without notice.” The earliest 1948 catalog only states this on the back cover. The later printing states it at the bottom of each product page. Both 1948 Catalogs have 16 pages.

The Stream & Lake grade was introduced as a replacement to the Champion grade in 1948 and appears on page 10 in these catalogs.  See below…

Early 1948 WM Catalog Cover
Early 1948 WM Catalog Cover
Early 1948 WM Catalog pg10
Early 1948 WM Catalog pg10
Early 1948 WM Catalog Back Cover
Early 1948 WM Catalog Back Cover

 

 

1948 WM Catalog Cover SM
1948 WM Catalog Cover
1948 WM Catalog pg10
1948 WM Catalog pg10
1948 WM Catalog Back Cover
1948 WM Catalog Back Cover

The 1949 Wright & McGill Catalog

The final Dennis Morgan cover catalog is from 1949. This catalog is easily distinguished between the others since it has 20 pages instead of 16.  The 4 extra pages offer details about each of the Casting Rods that were available by grade.

 

1949 WM Catalog Cover SM
1949 WM Catalog Cover
1949 WM Catalog Back Cover
1949 WM Catalog Back Cover
1949 WM Catalog pg10
1949 WM Catalog pg10

 

So now we now have 4 catalogs that illustrate the early years of Wright & McGill. These important pieces of history shine more light on the rods that we enjoy using.  Follow the links below for more detailed specifications of these catalogs:

Please post a comment below if you find this kind of article interesting. We’d appreciate hearing from you.

Also, if you have any additional documentation that helps add to (or contradicts) this story, please contact us.

 

 

Creating a Living Record

Many exceptional books have been written over the years about Goodwin Granger, Wright & McGill and Bill Phillipson. This site leans heavily on the work and dedication of those great authors and historians including Dick Spurr, Michael Sinclair, Donald Phillipson, Lee McGill, Martin Keene, and AJ Campbell.

But even the most-researched work is limited to what’s known about the subject matter at the time of printing. As new information is uncovered, Finecane will serve as a living record of Colorado’s finest historical bamboo rod makers. Our aim is to create a community of enthusiasts around these great rodmakers by sharing exceptional examples and reference materials so we can all learn from and contribute to this ever-growing resource.

Thank you,
The Finecane Team