Dating Mills Flies

Moderators: letumgo, William Anderson

User avatar
letumgo
Site Admin
Posts: 11466
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:55 pm
Location: Buffalo, New York
Contact:

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by letumgo » Wed Mar 20, 2019 11:27 am

Unfortunately, I am unable to add any information to this conversation, other than to say I find this sort of discussion fascinating. I love seeing the flies, reading the side discussions about history, and the detective work going into dating the flies. Great discussions by all.

Please continue...
Ray (letumgo)----<°))))))><
http://www.flytyingforum.com/index.php? ... er=letumgo

"The world is perfect. Appreciate the details." - Dean
Greenwell
Posts: 330
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:05 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Greenwell » Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:54 pm

The very last Leonard catalog in which I can find Snelled Wet Flies listed is in 1966. By that time the price had risen to $4.20 per dozen, 60 cents more than the price for a dozen eyed wets. The 1967 catalog shows Snelled Wet Flies in the same illustration that was used the year before but has neither a description nor a price for them.
bearbutt
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:15 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:36 pm

So--

I opened a couple of the packages of Mills flies to pull a few samples out to bring North for the the ForumGhillie to play with--and the Gordons stopped me in my tracks. The hooks are small (marked 15, but closer to our modern 18 or 20)--and a strange luminescent purple. I couldn't quite get a good image with my iPhone, I will try again--but here's a quick look:

Image


Image

Does anyone have an idea what is up here? As Shaner suggested, the snells are nylon. But the hooks? I have no idea.

bb
User avatar
tie2fish
Posts: 5072
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:11 am
Location: Harford County, MD

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by tie2fish » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:37 pm

I believe it is/was possible to produce a japanned metal surface with a purple sheen to it. Perhaps someone was just experimenting?
Some of the same morons who throw their trash around in National parks also vote. That alone would explain the state of American politics. ~ John Gierach, "Still Life with Brook Trout"
Greenwell
Posts: 330
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:05 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Greenwell » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:13 pm

The hooks these flies are on are blued rather than lacquered as are modern hooks. Many older trout hooks show this blued finish which is similar to, but not the same as, the bluing used on firearms. The bluing finish wasn't as resistant to rust as is a lacquer finish but it persisted well into the 20th century. The flies in Aldam's book (1876) show a very fine blue finish to their hooks.

A Japan finish, which was used on salmon and larger trout hooks, is a black lacquer finish. You will also see Japanning on old fly and other metal boxes, as well as other various 19th century sheet metal products.
bearbutt
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:15 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:19 pm

As usual, John is right: the hooks are indeed blued.

It seems that Mustad was selling blued hooks into the 1970s--here are some Cristal 275 hooks, size 11, made for the French market--they are very fine wire, 2x fine I think:

Image

bb
User avatar
Theroe
Posts: 1126
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:42 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Theroe » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:56 am

bearbutt wrote: Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:19 pm As usual, John is right: the hooks are indeed blued.

It seems that Mustad was selling blued hooks into the 1970s--here are some Cristal 275 hooks, size 11, made for the French market--they are very fine wire, 2x fine I think:

Image

bb
Very nice find, Joe !!
Where about did you find them?
Soft and wet - the only way....
bearbutt
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:15 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:40 pm

Theroe wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:56 am
Very nice find, Joe !!
Where about did you find them?
Kenhooks in Sweden--but it was many years ago. You might email them to see if they have any left? As usual, I didn't buy enough--boo-hoo.

bb
bearbutt
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:15 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:56 pm

Greenwell wrote: Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:15 am
Mills imported flies from England, the world supplier of commercial flies for many years, but Alfred Miller (Sparse Grey Hackle) writes: "Three of Thomas Bates Mills six children became active in the William Mills business - Eddie, the caster; "old" Arthur: and Chester, who because of delicate health established himself at Geneva, NY in the beautiful Finger Lakes district and set up a flytying project that supplied the firm with most of its American-made flies for some forty years." So there's a very good chance that these flies were tied in Upstate NY. I've always wanted to research the Mills flytying operation in Geneva, which is just a few minutes from my home town of Skaneateles, but have never had the time to do so.
A bit of new info to add to this thread. One of my former students sent me a package of Mills "Grizzly king" flies for Christmas, and one of the flies has a small tag saying "Made in Great Britain":


Image


The envelope is still sealed. This is the first time I have seen this on the Mills "Special stream flies"--so I'd say that some of these definitely originated in the UK--but others? John's citation of Sparse is pretty strong too--so my guess is, these wets came from both the UK and NYS. We'd need to apply a bit of forensic analysis to the hooks and materials to get a better sense of things, but that is A LOT of work--so maybe it's nice to be left with some ambiguity.

bb
Greenwell
Posts: 330
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:05 pm

Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Greenwell » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:57 pm

I have quite a few Mills flies in similar packaging and have looked at many more but this is the first time that I have seen the Made in Great Britain tag on them. Without the tags it's anyone's guess where the flies were dressed but you have proof on these! Very neat.
Post Reply