Dating Mills Flies

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bearbutt
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Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:28 am

I recently acquired some Wm. Mills flies and would like some assistance dating them. Here's a pair of packages:

Image


They are old-size 15 snecks (about size 18-20 if they were Mustads) on fine gut leaders. I looked at an online Mills catalogue from 1922, and the description of the flies ("Special Stream Flies") is identical in the catalogue and packaging--

Image

but something makes me feel the packaging is from a later date. Does anyone have any old Mills catalogues from the later 20s, 30s, 40s, even 50s, to consult?

Many thanks,
bb

(apologies for cross-posting, I also asked the same question on the SGM Board)
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Theroe
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Theroe » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:47 pm

Nice score, Joe.

NICER body on the "Gordon"........
Soft and wet - the only way....
upstatetrout
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by upstatetrout » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:59 pm

Joe the add for "special stream" wet flies is in my 1941 Mills Catalogue but not in my 1950 Catalogue. I assume that snelled flies fell out of favour by then and also the silk gut may have been in short supply during the war..
Pure conjecture on my part but the factories like Allcocks were bombed.

Tom
"We argue to see who is right but we discuss to see what is right"
bearbutt
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:13 pm

Thanks, Tom--the 1941-1950 window would make sense as far as the supply of tying materials is considered. We don't know if course what kind of inventory Mills had, or how long it lasted--. Does your 1941 catalogue show the flies packaged? Or is it like the 1922 ad, showing just the flies, sans packaging?

Dana--maybe you should take a few of these out on the Willow one day and see what happens?

bb
upstatetrout
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by upstatetrout » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:50 pm

Sorry no pictures of the packaging just the same add you have.

Tom
"We argue to see who is right but we discuss to see what is right"
Greenwell
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Greenwell » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:04 pm

Mills' Light Stream Flies date back to at least 1894 and perhaps even earlier. Several pages of the 1894 catalog are reproduced in Great Fishing Tackle Catalogs of the Golden Age and they are pictured on page 99 of that delightful book.
For many years the Mills catalogs contained beautiful color plates, including the Light Stream Flies, but by 1955 both the Light Stream Flies and the color illustrations of them were gone. BTW, the Mills' color illustrations of wet, dry, "Maine trout or bass", and salmon flies appear in Dr. George Parker Holden's Streamcraft and were also sold separately for a few cents a copy.

Mills was selling snelled wet flies in the early 1960's, probably because there were still a few traditionalists who asked for them and probably also because they had backstocks of the things.
bearbutt
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by bearbutt » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:41 pm

Greenwell wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:04 pm

Mills was selling snelled wet flies in the early 1960's, probably because there were still a few traditionalists who asked for them and probably also because they had backstocks of the things.
Thanks, that would make total sense, and the inventory issue is what got me thinking that the flies might be from a later period. I'm hopeful the packaging might be a clue to dating what I have.

Here's another brace of packages of larger patterns:

Image

bb
Greenwell
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Greenwell » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:10 pm

Those look like the earlier packages but it's hard to date them with much accuracy. I wonder what the "N" stamp means, possibly "Nylon" as the later, post WWII, snelled flies were on nylon? But these look to be pre-nylon. Mills was in business for so long that a lot of their packaging and advertising items were around for years. They also used a semi-transparent rice paper envelope, especially early on.

"O'S Hook" is shorthand for "O'Shaughnessy Hooks," popular on their larger wet flies.
Mike62
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by Mike62 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:29 am

This may seem silly but the writing on the packages speaks to a ink pen as opposed to a ball point. Gut and ink: 40's-50's-maybe early 60's? I suppose if the the packages were kept somewhere safe and quiet, out of the sun, they could look fresh and bright long after their manufacture date. That's as far as my thinking takes me.
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ForumGhillie
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Re: Dating Mills Flies

Post by ForumGhillie » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:47 am

bb, I hope you will remember to take those with you this Spring to NW WI outing. <hint! hint!>

Where would those flies have been made?

per dozen... $1.50. How the hell did they make money????

John
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