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Mitchell-First-Version-Cover-PlateDating Mitchell Reels is easy if you have the right tools and here it is; the Original Mitchell Reel Dating Guide by Wallace Carney of the Mitchell Reel Museum!

 

Though most vintage Mitchell reels have oval shape bodies; my purpose for identifying these reels as Egg-Shape is very simple. They all have the basic classic body (housing) design of the very first Mitchell with a three screw "Cover Plate" as shown to the left.

 

Plus and most important; these all were serial numbered in sequence at the Mitchell factory after assembly regardless of the different models or even which distributor (country) they were made for. It's very important to know that ALL Mitchell reels started using this dating system starting in 1974 to their last reel in 1989!

The classic cover plate models I’ve found to have the same SN sequence are the Mitchell 300/301, 300C/301C, 300DL/301DL, Otomatic, 330/331, Rapid, 350/351 400/401, 410/411, 410DL, 440/441, 440/441 Match, Garcia Mitchell Match (no 440/441 engraved), 500, 510 and 540. Other Classic Egg-Shape models made after 1970 were included in the same serial number sequence.

There were certain “events” that happened and documented that helped “date” a change in the reel. Other artifacts and celebrations also documented dates. These are from a continuing spreadsheet study I originally did and self-published in January 2006 called Mitchell ~ Rebirth of a Legend.  Because this is not an exact science some may be off but they can’t be by much.

Please note that these dates are the approximate date of manufacture at the factory and NOT date of receipt by the wholesaler, retailer or when it was first advertised or purchased. Gaps between the serial numbers I give are ones I’ve not found and documented. Therefor these gaps in serial numbers could be the years before or after. Please use this as a general dating guide only!

The first four versions of the 300 called “The Mitchell” at the time did not have the 300/301 model number engraved. The first two versions did not have serial numbers at all and the beginning of the 3rd version also did not have numbers. Keeping this in mind:

 

Dating Mitchell Reels by Mitchell 300 Study

 

1st Version – 1939/40 No Serial Numbers but a  “unique” #5 is stamped on foot

2nd Version – 1940/46 No Serial Numbers but various stamps on foot

3rd Version – 1946/49 No Serial Numbers but various stamps on foot but in 1949/52 Serial Numbers first begin within the 3rd version release. These have a letter prefix starting with “A” followed by only 5 numeric digits. The serial numbers were stamped on the bottom of the foot at first but between SN A66544 and SN A74901 it was moved to the Housing. The breakdown of these years are:

1949/50 – SN “A” Prefix began within 3rd Versions with the lowest serial number I’ve found being #A02558 however; a new discovery was made in 2008 by Jan Haanstra, a well known Mitchell Collector in Holland, a unique 3rd Version with very unique Cross-Wind Gears! It has now been fully documented that Mitchell first introduced the Cross-Wind gearing in 1949/50. To distinguish these from the common Level-Wind gearing they installed a red anodized Handle Knob. The lowest serial number found to date is #A07127 and the highest is #A07324 with two others in between. The red knob had been replaced on one that was discovered but when checked it had the “unique” Cross-Wind gearing. These are extremely rare so start looking!

1950/52 – SN  “A, B & C” Prefixes are found on 3rd Versions but again another anomaly occurred; Test or “Pilot” 4th Version full bails were made on what I currently believe on two runs. The first run was found with serial number B29598 and the second with #B49681 or about 20,000 reels later. Between these two numbers I’ve documented regular 3rd versions with serial numbers as low as #B32817 and as high as #B42156. Besides the serial number, they are easy to document as authentic with very unique parts within the Head including the Baffle Plate. These are also extremely rare!!!

This was the end of the standard half bail and the beginning of the 4th version with a full bail:

4th Version 1951/52 – SN “C” Prefix was carried over with the transition period occurring in the very low “C” serial number prefix range. The lowest number I've found on a common 4th version was #C00447 but the highest number found on a 3rd version with a prefix was #C03203. The highest number found with this prefix on a 4th version was #C92525.

This is when Mitchell realized there wasn’t going to be enough alphanumeric numbers so they changed to just numbers. The lowest SN I’ve documented is #40779 and the highest is #9963012 and over 900 more serial numbers in between and growing!

Matching Serial Number stickers started being placed on each box’s outer brown paper shipping wrap somewhere within this time period. Unfortunately almost all of these wrappers have been discarded but several have been found and documented, still in their original factory state.

1953 – SN 40779 to 203519
1954 – SN 235985 to 617792
1955 – SN 624001 to 1004270

SN 624001 was the earliest 5th Version I’ve found.
1956 – SN 1040182 to 1517887
1957 – SN 1520736 to 1883288
1958 – SN 1889513 to 2225412

SN 1889513 was the earliest 6th Version I’ve found.

NOTE: Between SN 1883288 and SN 1889513 marks the beginning of matching Serial Numbers on boxes. It’s also when they moved the serial number stamp forever back to the reel’s foot.
1959 – SN 2282964 to 2959786
1960 – SN 3067452 to 3579119
1961 – SN 3616448 to 4218719
1962 – SN 4267369 to 4870499
1963 – SN 4918411 to 5494100
1964 – SN 5546867 to 5953668
1965 – SN 5996632 to 6579351
1966 – SN 6656941 to 7276825
1967 – SN 7282575 to 7895887
1968 – SN 7959216 to 8570524

SN 7959216 was the earliest 7th Version I’ve found.
1969 – SN 8603501 to 9244733
1970 – SN 9295633 to 9963012
When nearing 10 million "Classic Egg-Shaped" reels made; in 1971 Mitchell reverted back to their original alphanumeric serial numbers with a wide variety of digit combination's. This makes it very easy to date these reels by just the serial number letter prefix. These started in 1971 with the letter “A” prefix and so on. Interesting to know that in 1971 Mitchell also celebrated the 20-Millionth Mitchell reel manufactured in Cluses, France.
1971 = A
1972 = B
1973 = C
1974 = D

Matching Serial Number stickers on boxes ended in 1974.

NOTE: It's very important to know that ALL Mitchell reels started using this dating system starting in 1974!
1975 = E
1976 = F
1977 = G

SN G018501 (1977) was the earliest 8th Version I’ve found.
1978 = H
1979 = I

The letter I was not used to my knowledge due to the similar # 1.
1979 = J
1980 = K
1981 = L
1982 = M
1983 = N
1984 = O

The letter O was used on a few reels but stopped due to the similar #0.
1984 = P
1985 = Q
1986 = R
1987 = S
1988 = T (The last of the serial numbers. Mitchell closed the factory in 1988/89)
1989 = T (New Old Stock Parts were used to make limited quantities of Mitchell reels that were still being hand assembled in France)
1990 = No serial numbers with few exceptions such as the Mitchell 300 PRO Anniversary that has been documented as one model still being assembled in France however; most models are now being manufactured in Taiwan.

 

Wallace Carney