Mitchell Reel Collecting

An Obscure Art Form

 By: Dennis Roberts


  Some articles are easier to write than others. This one needed more thought to relate to its title. Many people have asked me over the years, and I am sure other collectors as well have experienced this too, why do we collect Mitchells?  What is the attraction? I’m sure Freud would have had a good response as to why we collect but I’m sure he couldn’t explain the appeal of Mitchell reels! Hopefully, his answer would have been more inline with the positive and not some idiosyncrasy in our character. Wanting to offer some hope for all Mitchell enthusiast, including myself, as to why we pursue this seamlessly endless endeavor is complicated.

 I did a little research and asked a few people, non collectors and collectors alike, about their perspective of what we collect and how they perceive the hobby. Their responses were across the board but all had one thing in common on how they view our passion for Mitchells. I think my friend, a non collector said it best, and I quote, “I guess it has some artistic value in an abstract way.”  I think of all the answers, that one struck a chord. He was correct; if you step back and look at your collection, it does take on an artistic reverence. I asked other collectors in hopes of obtaining an affirmation of my thoughts and their responses seemed to share my friend’s opinion.  Another response was equally inviting as it shares a common thread among collectors.  He said, “I collect Mitchells as an extension of my interest in fishing”, and another response was, “my first reel was a Mitchell when I was young.”  Both opinions are very revealing regarding the rationale of why we collect.  

1-Millionth presentation model 300

So, where does this lead us as collectors and how do view our collection, or should I say, how should we view our collections? Mitchell reel collecting or reel collecting in general is an acquired taste. Collectors, as compared to investors, have different viewpoints. Collectors seem to look at their collections with more passion while investors understand the business side of opportunity. Both work well to keep reels in circulation. Unfortunately, one cannot survive without the other.   

We should enjoy more than just the value portion of what we collect and start viewing our collections as an art form, although abstract in its composition, nevertheless, an art form!  This also should encompass the packaging. The packaging offers colors that add a whole new dimension when viewed collectively with the reel. Compound this with many reels and their respective packaging and now you have a canvas of art. Enjoy the subtleties of your collection, step back and see the art that is in front of you. 

One has to look no further than the art world to see similarities with reel collectors. Acquisition of fine art is highly desirable, and is only compounded by financial incentives for investors. People buy and sell art for profit, and true art lovers – for the passion of the art itself. Sometimes those lines are blurred when the desire is only exceeded by the demand and the cost brokers place on it.  Reel collecting is not in the same realm as fine art but in a parallel universe, they present the same ambiance as they both stimulate passion as art to the observer; or as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!”

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