This week in our ongoing vintage tackle contest, submitter Tom Adair has two questions for Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog. What the heck is a Kosmic reel, and how do you clean one up? Tom wrote:

An elderly friend of mine was cleaning out his father’s things and came across this reel.One thing I’m really interested in is your opinion about cleaning it up (removing tarnish). I like the character of it but I also want to pass it down in the family.


Dr. Todd says:



within.cmd%3Fform_state%3Ddefault_state%26searchWithin%3Dtrue%26N%3D0%26Ntk%3DAllProducts%26Ntt%3D50th%26search%3D50th%26nttWithin%3Dknife%26x%3D0%26y%3D0&Ntt=50th&WTz_l=Unknown)“You have a very, very interesting surf reel on your hands. Kosmic is one of the legendary trade names in fishing history, first inaugurated by A.G. Spalding & Co. in the early 1890s and purchased by the U.S. Net & Twine Co. a few years later. The trade name eventually fell into the hands of a newly formed company known as H.A. Whittemore of Boston, Mass. in 1901, and this is the company that commissioned the Montague Rod & Reel Co. to make your particular reel. Your Kosmic reel is an early one, dating to before 1910. Certainly the reel deserves to be cleaned; you can go to the Old Reel Collector’s Association (ORCA) website for lots of tips on how to safely do this. All Kosmic marked tackle is valuable, and I’d estimate the value of this reel at $100-$150. The value could go up markedly if it cleans up well and is in fully functional condition with all parts intact. To see a 1904 Montague catalog page featuring this reel, click here

As a passionate surfcaster, this is easily one of my favorite items posted yet. Great find, Tom. Now get that thing shined up and enjoy the new Cabelas’ 50th Anniversary Fillet Knife headed your way.

If you’ve already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven’t and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a limited edition Cabelas’ 50th Anniversary Fillet Knife made by Buck Knives (left, $80).