Bonhams is selling a piece of fishing history – a monster 30 lb pike landed in Hickling Broad, Norfolk in 1956 and subsequently mounted by the leading taxidermist of the day, J. Cooper and Sons of Hownslow. This fine cased pike almost four foot in length is estimated to sell for £4,000 to £6,000 at Bonhams sale in Henley on July 21st.
 
 The Angling Times of Friday November 1956 tells the tale of the fish’s capture under the front page headline: “Monster Pike From The Broads.” The reporter said: “The captor, Hertfordshire angler, Donald Tate said: “The pike really frightened me. It took my live-bait with a rush, it came straight out of the water and crashed back with the noise of a ton of coal being emptied.”
 
 Mr Tate, a farmer from Northaw, Pottters Bar had a houseboat and a punt on the Broads and whenever work allowed he’d head off for a weekend’s fishing. His previous biggest pike weighed in at 22 and 26 pounds respectively.
 
 A second pike in this sale, lot 299 is that selfsame 22-pounder caught by the same angler and once again mounted by J. Cooper and Sons. It is estimated to sell for £2,000 to £3,000.
 
 Charles Kewley who directs Bonhams Angling Sales says: The Proprietor of J. Cooper and Sons had been Mr. W B Griggs, a fine taxidermist whose son Mr. L F Griggs followed in his father’s trade. There is a descriptive invoice which shows £1.8.10 being charged for the gold leaf inscription for the 22 lb pike. When the angler arrived with the 30 lib fish he was initially turned away, as the business was struggling to keep up with their work. However after enquiring about the weight of the pike and learning it was of the magical 30lbs Mr. L F Griggs agreed to mount it. It is believed to be the last 30lb Pike preserved by the company before they closed in the early 1960’s.  It took fifteen months for the fish to be completed and was collected on January 8th 1958. The fish are offered with the original invoices and other interesting ephemera.”
 
GUT TWISTING ENGINE
 
 Another item that will attract keen interest is Lot 200, one of those rare and fascinating items that emerge from Bonhams Angling sales. The Gut Twisting engine is not some demented funfair ride but a brilliant piece of engineering that plaits horsehair together to make fishing line!
 
 Estimated to sell for £1,500 to £2,500 the machine was made by J. K. Farlow, of 5 Crooked Lane, London Bridge. In 1851 it was exhibited in the Great Exhibition.
 
 This quirky object consists of a silver plated brass gut twisting engine with three hooks, screw clamp fitting, shaped winding arm with turned ivory knob together with a silver plated hinged clearing ring and ivory bobbin with linen line.
 
ZANE GREY FISHING REEL
 
 Another intriguing and historical item in the sale is a Zane Grey deep sea fishing reel – one of only 96 made bearing this western author and sportsman’s name – which sold for £38 in the 1930’s and found in the Seychelles. Zane Grey was one of the best know writers of `cowboy and Indian western fiction with books like: Riders of the Purple Sage.
 
 While not writing, Grey fished in the South Seas, or hunted along the Rogue River in Oregon, or spent time on Catalina Island. According to some sources, he fished up to 300 days of the year. In TALES OF SWORDFISH AND TUNA (1927) he tells that he had exceptionally good luck in locating schools of large tuna. Grey died on October 23, 1939, in Altadena.
 
 Grey graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in dentistry in 1896, and practiced in New York City until 1904. During these years he started to write. In his writing Grey was encouraged by his wife, Lina Elise Roth. They married in 1905.
 
 In 1908 Grey made a journey to the West with Colonel C.J. (‘Buffalo’) Jones, who told him tales of adventure on the plains. The trip was a turning point in Grey’s career. He began writing Western novels in the tradition of Owen Wister and produced the first, THE LAST OF THE PLAINSMEN, in 1908.
 
 Much of Grey’s knowledge of the West was based on research or trips in the regions he wrote about. He also interviewed authentic residents of the Wild West. In 1918 he moved to California, and lived there for the rest of his life. He built a large, Spanish-style house in Altadena, and continued to produce his usual 100, 000 words each month.
 
 For more information please contact Julian Roup at Bonhams Press Office in London on 020 7468 8259 or press@bonhams.com


 

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