The only other Aerial fitted with a lever operated auxiliary brake was the 1¼” wide model № 7981LT -a rare reel, but not as rare as this 7990!
In the April 21st 1923 edition of The Fishing Gazette, Allcock’s introduced the new Lever Type Aerial № 7990. They had been developing it since 1920. They advised that this new model was suitable for salmon, mahseer, pike, tuna and other large fish.
To Aerial lovers, they have been known for as long as I can remember (I’ve been in the trade for thirty four years, man and boy) as ‘Mahseer Aerials’. This is one of the most sought after and hard to find Aerials.
The man on whose behalf I am selling this reel turned one hundred last October and like him, it is in superb condition, showing signs of light use only. The accompanying pictures illustrate the desirable and possibly unique features of this wonderful reel, which may well have been made ninety seven years ago.
I first handled this very reel in 1994 when I was fishing with its owner on his private beat of the South Platte River in Colorado. Perhaps the reel was exported to the US in 1923 (as it was aimed at overseas markets).
This reel has an aluminium half circle BP (‘Bickerdyke Pattern’) line guard with six nickel silver pillars. The two innermost pillars are rollers, and they have not seized up. They roll freely.
The Xylonite handles rotate very freely and are not worn. The Xylonite brake lever end has a factory fitted lateral nickel silver pin to prevent it from coming lose.
The spool’s six nickel silver spokes and its brass line pins are all straight and tight and the spool is completely solid.
The spool release, tension regulator, lever operated brake and V-check are all in perfect working order. Most of the brass work is untarnished, retaining its original cellulose-lacquered finish.
The brass foot is sound and unaltered. All screws and rivets are perfect and untouched.
The spindle and spool bush are perfect, showing no signs of corrosion or wear. The spool is absolutely tight and true. The spool spins silently, smoothly and without wobble.
The reel retains a great deal of its original gunmetal finish.
Weight: 1 lb & ¼ oz -including its BP line guard.
Diameter: 4½” (4.513”)
Spool width (internal): 1½” (1.521”)
Now I must ask for your undivided attention. Please read this and look at the accompanying pictures. Have a copy of Bob Singleton’s and John Stephenson’s books to hand.
Collectors and students of Allcock Aerial variations will be aware that reels with the lever operated auxiliary brake mechanism, as illustrated in The Allcock Aerial –a Collectors Guide by Bob Singleton and elsewhere, are usually stamped on the backplate ‘LEVER TYPE’ and PATENT № 135251
This reel does not carry either of these stamps, but does have the round stamp:
S ALLCOCK & Co LTD REDDITCH ENGLAND. THE “ALLCOCK AERIAL”
and is also stamped:
The numeral ‘2’ is stamped into the spool’s back plate.
On every other example of the Lever Type Aerial that I have been able to examine or view pictures of (nine so far), the auxiliary lever-operated brake has operated as follows:
On pulling the lever, a captive plunger with a rounded end is pressed against the inner lip of the spool’s back plate, thus creating drag. When manual pressure on the lever is decreased, it is returned to its starting position by a coil spring through which the plunger passes.
The lever pivots on a domed brass screw with its large slotted head on the inside of the back plate and its corresponding brass stud on the outside of the back plate. The spring-loaded plunger passes through a round brass block that is secured by a large slotted brass screw on the outside of the reel’s back plate.
I confess that on the examples referred to, as illustrated on page 79 of Bob Singleton’s book and page 85 of John Stephenson’s book Rosewood to Revolution, I don’t know the exact nature of the material that the active end of the plunger is made from. It doesn’t have much surface area so it must have a lot of work to do when pressure is applied to make it rub against the spool’s lip.
The example I am offering is different. The lever pivots on a recessed flat head brass screw joined to a very small and neat square nut on the reel’s back plate. The spring-loaded plunger applies pressure on a hinged brass limb, to which is fitted a generous brake pad.
This brake pad and the brake lever are returned to their starting positions by a very small hard-to-see V-spring which is set into a slot cut into one end of the brake pad limb. This spring and the brake pad pivot on a recessed screw (in the brake pad limb) which is joined to a small square nut on the back plate.
Both limbs of the check’s V-spring are straight. The pawl is not blued. The side in contact with the V-spring is quite short. The point that is in contact with the check wheel is relatively long. The reel makes a superb sound when the ratchet is engaged.
On the other examples of the Lever Type Aerials I have seen, the limb of the V-spring in contact with the back plate is decidedly curved. The pawl is blued and the side in contact with the V-spring is long.
In view of these differences, I suggest that this reel might be an early version of its type (after all, it was in development for three years). Perhaps, once the lever brake had been altered to the more commonly seen format, the makers committed to stamping these reels with their patent number and the legend ‘Lever Type’.