Mitchell Reel Museum - Mitchell Mates Discussion Group

The Early Years of Mitchell
Page 1 of 1

Author:  Wallace Carney [ Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:41 am ]
Post subject:  The Early Years of Mitchell

For years, misconceptions and assumptions about the beginning of Mitchell reels have been repeated so many times that what was fiction was considered fact, even now as I write this. Numerous historical inaccuracies have been debunked and many new and surprising facts have been uncovered especially over the last five years! Seems like most websites and blogs by many including the owner of the Mitchell brand, Pure Fishing, continue to post incorrect information.

I believe Pure Fishing is just going on what's been told by others they feel are reliable sources. These others have based their findings on spotty research at best. They also rely on a patent on the Mitchell reel dated August 3, 1948 therefore it must have been first made in 1948!? But wait a minute; besides this patent being in English and not French (an obvious giveaway) what about our soldiers returning from WW2 in 1945 with a 2nd version Mitchell? What about Mitchell showing a 3rd version Mitchell reel dated 1946 in a 1990 catalog? I have so many "what about" responses, for now I'll just post the below article just received by my good friend, Mr. Barrie Welham who is helping me nail these facts.

Barrie had a very long history with Carpano & Pons, Impecco, Tom Lenk and especially the man who invented the first Mitchell and his good friend, Maurice Jacquemin. If you don't want to believe my five years of hard research, try not believing these words from a man who knows and I have to say, try asking him if he is possibly wrong and you will get a sharp response just like me when I first questioned him!

The Early Years of Mitchell

By Barrie Welham, Retired CEO

Garcia Tackle UK

Southampton, England


I became closely involved with Mitchell reels in 1967 when I was approached to take on the Mitchell Distribution for the U.K. from London. I formed Garcia Tackle U.K. and in 1968 I set up an office in Southampton near the port of entry.

At that time my friend Maurice Jacquemin, the designer of the reels, told me that the first fishing reels to be produced by Messrs Carpano & Pons were the disc shaped bodied CAP in 1937. Carpano & Pons made these reels for Canne a Peche, a major French wholesaler, which was where the name CAP came from. He also told me that the egg-shaped body Mitchell reel he had designed was first produced in 1939.

Alternative second versions were produced between 1939 and 1945. Volume production got started in 1946 where the product was sold on the French market and by 1947 was expanded to export.

The American GARCIA Company was a business selling natural products such as flax and hemp for string and rope making and silkworm gut to the fishing tackle trade for casts and hook lengths. Otto Gumprich was the President of the U.S. Company and his brother, Jules Gumprich, was in France. Jules sent a Mitchell reel to his brother with the suggestion it would make a saleable product.

The reel was shown to Dick Wolff, an assistant in a New York tackle store, for appraisal. His report was favourable. Garcia got the agency and Dick Wolff joined the Company and rose to the position of a Vice President. Tom Lenk, who had worked for Garcia back in 1938, returned from the 1939-45 conflicts and took to running the company alongside Otto Gumprich with their focus on these fishing reels.

By 1948 Millard Bros – a major wholesaler in Britain – also took the Mitchell agency for U.K., Albatros for the Netherlands, Arca for Belgium and later on, Balzer for Germany. The Canne a Peche Company assisted in sales in France throughout the years.

Initially the first reels made and owned by Carpano & Pons were only made with the Mitchell name engraved but starting in the early 1950s the range grew with models covering both fresh and salt water of various sizes. These began with the Mitchell Salt Water, the Mitchell Otomatic and the Mitchell Rapid.

By the mid-1950s with even more reels in the planning stage, Mitchell saw the need for assigning model numbers for each series. Using their old Codes, the Mitchell became the 300, The Salt Water became the 302, the Otomatic became the 330, and the Rapid became the 350. After Mitchell acquired the rights to the CAP reel in 1954, it was changed to the Mitchell 304.

By 1958 the Mitchell 308 (ultra-light) and the Mitchell 306 (intermediate) series reels were also being marketed worldwide. Many other models evolved throughout the years from these original seven, too numerous to mention.

The engineering quality, for which Carpano & Pons were famous, and the quality of Mitchell reels has never been surpassed. They went on and built many millions of reels and there has never been a range of any other major item of fishing tackle, be it rods, reels, lines, that has achieved anything like the same quantity for a single brand and producer.

March 2011

Thank you Barrie, more to follow,

Wallace Carney

Author:  Bonanza [ Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:02 pm ]
Post subject:  The Early Years of Mitchell

Hi Wallace and Barrie,

Thanks for sharing this important information.  Cheers to you both!

Regards,  Scott

Author:  Wallace Carney [ Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:49 am ]
Post subject:  The Early Years of Mitchell

Thanks from the both of us mate!

We are almost completely finished with a factual Mitchell history article soon to be released. In a meeting, emails and many phone conversations with others, most of us have come to the conclusion that very few care at all about Mitchell history. It's so sad to me and even Mr. Welham that this has happened for decades! What these others fail to understand is all Mitchell enthusiast coming aboard are very much interested in Mitchell history as it somehow links them with their own, we call precious memories of our past!

I have tried for five years to "ask" that these mistakes be corrected to absolutely no avail. In my last attempt, I was told it would take them from 6 to 12 months to be able to make these corrections along with what they called "joining of the minds" but at least one will never admit to his errors and wants everything his way or no-way. Therein lies the problem, we will never be joined, so be it...

On a positive note:

Roy Allett and Barrie Welham have graciously accepted our invitation to join the Mitchell Reel Museum team. As a friend of both, I am proud to know these men and welcome them with open arms. I also want to thank them for all their hard work, sharing and giving they have done to help make this website what it is today!

Please Click Here to go to the About Us page.

Respectfully submitted,

Wallace Carney

Author:  Bonanza [ Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:49 am ]
Post subject:  The Early Years of Mitchell

Hey Wallace, 

Thanks for the great news about Barrie and Roy.  I certainly have enjoyed my conversations with Roy from across the pond, and yes he is one of the kindest gentlemen I have met yet to date.  I someday look forward to speaking with Barrie, and from what you have presented here I have no doubt is probably the second kindest gentlemen.  We really do have a great group of members that enjoy our hobby.  I wish we really could dig deeper into the finer details of Garcia and the early years.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall right after the sale of Narmco to Garcia.  The Garcia crew must have felt they were a bunch of guys that just entered the candy store.  Thanks again for all your mind boggling help and reams of information for us to digest.  Cheers Mate!

Regards,  Scott

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group