Okeh & Flyer Reels
you haven't read my book on Meisselbach Reels, you might not be aware of where
the name Okeh came from. In May 1917 A.F. Meisselbach & Bro. was purchased by The
General Phonograph Co. to secure their phonograph manufacturing patents and
products, as well as the fishing reel company. "Okeh" was the
recording label of the General Phonograph Company. One of these labels is
shown here. Click the thumbnail to see a full sized photo if you wish.
The Okeh reels were the A.F. Meisselbach Manufacturing Company's first
attempt to produce a level wind reel. The first model came out in 1922. To get
around the patent owned by Shakespeare for the loop type level wind, they
produced a falling line guide. It is neat to watch as it pushes the line to the
edge of the frame, and then drops it into the guide. When the Shakespeare patent
expired they came out with standard loop type level winds in the Okeh series. In
1926 the Meisselbach Mfg. Co. added the very sleek Flyer to their lineup. It is
a raised pillar level wind reel with a very modern appearance.
These photos are all thumbnails. Just click on the photo to see an enlarged
||This is the standard #625 Okeh. It had a fixed spool, and
a tube frame. They came in a black box with a blue label. They were also
supplied with a suede bag that is marked "Okeh Reel, A.F.
Meisselbach Mfg. Co. Elyria, Ohio". Catalogs pictured this reel
with double knobs, but it could be had that way, or with a counter
balanced crank. This example is very nice, but not quite up to the one
shown in the next picture.
||This has got to be one of the greatest Okeh's in
existence! This #625 is new in a mint box. It also has a suede reel bag
that is marked "Okeh Reel..." It is also the rare Abbey
& Imbrie version. Instead of the headplate bearing the Okeh
stamping, it is stamped "Abbey & Imbrie/N.Y." If there is
a better Okeh around I'd like to see it.
||This is the Okeh #620. It is a free spool version of the
above reel. It was manufactured from 1922 to 1927. This was an expensive
reel, selling for $15 in the 1920s. The photo shows the line guide in
the down position, ready for a free spool cast.
||The Okeh #630 was the first reel to use the loop type
level wind. It came out in 1925 after the Marhoff patent expired. Other
than the line guide this reel was identical to the earlier Okeh's. This
reel is a bit harder to find than the #620 or #625. It is pictured with
the "Reel Meat" booklet that came with these reels.
||This is the scarce Okeh #600. This was the goofiest of the
pre-1930's Meisselbach reels. This reel is held together with a nut on
the tailplate. There is no tube frame. There are two endplates, a foot
and the level wind mechanism. All held together by this one nut. Loosen
the nut and the whole reel falls apart. This reel is quite scarce, and
the box even harder to find.
|The Ranger Reel is not actually called an Okeh, but it is
the Okeh #630 with a Bakelite spool. This was the first Meisselbach reel
to show the effect of the depression, and cheapening the reel line. This
reel is truly RARE. Only 457 were shipped from the factory. This is the
only one I am aware of that is in the box. Note the box label has
evolved also. This reel was made from 1930-1933.
|The Flyer #645. This is a great little reel. Probably one
of the very few, if not the only, raised pillar level wind casting
reels. It was very streamline in shape, and looks a lot like the
"modern" bass reels. It was manufactured from 1926-1933. This
is a really nice example, with booklet, and wonderful leather reel case.
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|Okeh Reels are pretty
neat. And who would have thought they were named after a record