Shakespeare Reel Date Codes

Shakespeare reel date codes

By Flyguy

How old is my Shakespeare reel and what is it worth? I think this is one of the more common questions asked here at Fishing Talks. Well, today I am going to try and help you answer that question for yourself.

From the late twenties until the late seventies, Shakespeare reels had a two letter date code stamped on the reel, usually near the model number. These date codes were not a part of the model number, but a way of tracking changes to the reel over time.

Let’s use the Shakespeare model 1920 Wondereel as an example. There are several different date codes for this reel. The first is HB and if you look at the chart below you will find the H falls under the 3 and the B falls under the 9 meaning this reel started production in 1939. The next date code for the same reel is GA, which was produced in 1940. The next date is GE, which was produced in 1946. This also tells us the model GA was produced from 1940 thru 1945.

The next date code for the Shakespeare model 1920 Wondereel is FK telling us it started production in 1951. Meanwhile, the model GE was in production from 1946 thru 1950. Then again, there was another date code FH, which correlates to 1953.

So, as you can tell, just because the date code is a certain year, it doesn’t mean the reel was built in that particular year. It means that year was the start of production.

Another good example of this is the Shakespeare model 1740 Tournament HE. Production on this model began in 1936 and the next change was FK in 1951. For fifteen years, this reel was produced without change yet many think the reel was made in 1936, when it could have been made at any time over the fifteen year period starting in 1936.

Shakespeare Reel Series Dating Formula































So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Ron: Rods have an addition letter as to the month it went into production.
    A Oct
    B Sept
    C Aug
    D July
    E June
    F May
    G April
    H March
    J Feb
    K Jan
    L Nov
    M Dec
  • conrad edwards: Thanks that helps me a lot. I have several shakespeare reels that I can now date. Great information.
  • Robert: Hello,
    Did they use the lower line’s letters from V to L?
    Why was the lower line needed? All years can be formed from the upper line from K to A, can’t they?
    Robert from Hungary
  • Ron: Guess that would be too easy.
  • conrad edewards:

    I fix up rods and reels for vet’s and I like to tell them the history, if there is one. I give them the flies that they need in the area they will fish based on the the feedback I get from other fisherman and guides. I don’t care about the worth I only care about outfitting the Vet. I give this away as an honor to our Vwet’s

  • Jim Paclik: I have a Shakespeare reel Model 1761 and doesn’t have the two letter code. Is there something different with the 1761, or why no date code.
  • Ron: I see one listed on eBay with no letters, but not selling. That reel plus two others for $20 with no buyers. I don’t think any special about the reel. Two letter code would be model. Reel is from late 60’s.
  • Tom: some great date info..... so whats the approx worth of one with box, paper work and wrench ???
  • Ron: Because so many were made, and so many are still around, $35+ would seem about right. I have several Service reels new in the box from mid 40’s only sold for $35.
  • Rhead Louis: Excellent information past the basic date code matrix. This helps explain why a GA new in box Wondereel exists with white plastic knobs rather than yellow knobs - it was made in a slightly different time period. Information was used to help date reconstructed tackle box of veteran KIA during WW2.
  • John P: My father left a Shakespeare 2071 model EF. It still works, can you tell me anything about it?
  • MoDoc: Hello John P.
    I trust that you are having a ‘fantastic’ day and that you are being ‘blessed!!!’ I am dong G-R-E-A-T!!!
    The Shakespeare 2071 was put into production in 1965 according to the Shakespeare Dating Chart as that is what the ‘EF’ lettering stands for by the model number. Shakespeare in my estimation made some nice reels in their early years, but it was and is like everything else — the cost of manufacturing, labor, rules and regulations, etc. It became more economical for Shakespeare to sell out and as many ‘old’ stand-by fishing reel manufacturers just as many other products overseas where labor is so much cheaper and the quality is not always what you would expect. Let me know what else you would like to know about this reel.
    Sorry that the Shakespeare Dating Chart did not fit into the comment box, but maybe you can copy and paste and print; it may come out alright? Or have you checked the InterNet — Shakespeare fishing reel ... You will surprise what you might find there!!!
    Have a ‘blessed’ day!!!!
    In His Service,
    Saint Joseph, MO
    Shakespeare Dating Chart

    Use the following charts to date Shakespeare Tackle Company reels and rods. For reels, the model number, which is a two letter code, is the first year a reel was manufactured, or the first year a major variation or innovation was used on reel I hope you will find them helpful.
    Reels: <phone>
    K J H G F E D C B A
    V U T S R Q P N M L
    There will be two letters on the side plates of the reel. An example would be HN = 1938 using table
    For rods, the model code is when the rod was introduced.
    A B C D E F G H J K L M <phone> 11 12
    First two letters indicate year, last letter is the month.
    Example GHJ =1943 February
    Before August 1954, Shakespeare changed its year August 1st, to correspond with the selling season.
  • John P: Thank you MoDoc, for you info. I did find a stamp on the reel, made in USA. Think I’ll keep it... should be fun opening it up for service. It seems in good shape. Maybe I’ll ketch a Salmon with it? Thanks for the date chart. I have some Mitchell (Garcia) I’ll need to deal with also. Perhaps, I’ll fish again. Thanks again John P
  • Chester: i have picked these fly reels p at a flea market for 10 bucks each one needs some TLC it is a little bent and not returning right easy fix i hope lol the model number is GD No 1837 and i have a nother one it is a model number GD No 1821 can you tell me any thing about them how old what year they where made ??? they are going to be sweet to fish with i will put them on good rod’s and enjoy years of fishing with them i hope ..
  • Ron: GD indicates you reels first year of production was 1947.
  • John P: Shakespeare Model EF 2071. Struggling to reinstall bail spring and bail. Spring on which side? Don’t have a schematic to work with. Any thoughts?
  • linda Smith: My husband has a Free spool # 1935 Direct Q Drive Shakespeare model QU MK-1. Would you please tell me something about the reel and it’s value, Thank You, Linda
  • Ron: You reel went into production in 1962. It is a direct drive reel, meaning the spool and handle always turn together. It does have a drag system for fighting fish. Depending on condition and with case, box, and paper in new condition, sellers as asking $100, $25 for used. No buyer or bidders.
  • Linda Smith: Thank you, Ron, for the info. It is quite helpful.
  • glm97229: Thank you for posting the date chart. I just purchased a vintage Shakespeare Model 2062 NL from an online store. I have the Model 2062 DD which would indicate the model mfg start date in 1977. How would the 2062 NL translate as I am fairly certain that it is an older model that the DD series. Thank you again.
  • Ron: Your welcome. NL would be 1980.
  • Mark Vandlik: I have a Shakespeare Russell Fly Reel No. 1896 Model ME
    According to the Shakespeare records ME would translate to 96. However, this does and not make sense as the reel is from the 1930’s and the Russell was not introduced until approximately that time.
    Could you please explain the Model ME?
    Thank you.
  • Ron:

    The reel was also sold under different merchant names, including Abby, Imbrie Salmo,and South Bend. I am not sure that Shakespeare even made the Russell themself. That might explain why the date code doesn’t apply.

  • Mark Vandlik: Dear Ron:
    Thank you very much for the clarifying information.
    I really appreciate it.
    Thanks again.
  • Daniel: What year did the Shakespeare push button wondercast Model # 1777 come out?
  • Ron: Looks like in the 50’s.
  • robert westfield: How does a Shakespeare wondereel model no.1750 cast
  • valerie e: Hi Ron....yours is the most informative site I have seen in figuring out the info on the Shakespeare reels. Still a bit confused, and hope you can help me.
    I purchased two for gifts. One says 1922 and has golden bakelite on the ‘twirler’ handles and around the one end looks to be a grayish bakelite ribbon...I don’t see any other markings. It came in a box, but I don’t think the box matches the reel.
    The other is a 1961 Criterian is engraved on both sides with a fishing scene.
    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks much, Val
  • Ron:

    Welcome, and thank you. Both are direct drive reels. That means the is no free spool and the spool and handle both turn together, and both reels don’t have a drag, but both have clickers to indicate fish strikes. The reel with the Bakelite is an early plastic invented in 1909 for industrial uses and in the 30 and 40’s was used for jewelry and used on reels. Your 1961 reel went into production in 1940. The pictures are stamped, not engraved. If the end caps are ruby colored, those are called jeweled caps for decoration. On the left side of the reel, there is a anti-backlash adjustment to control the tension on the spool to avoid backlashes. Take the reels out and catch some fish. I like taking vintage equipment out and using them.

    Here I am using an old Bronson reel.

  • valerie e: I have the system figured out! Thank you for all the wonderful information on the reels.
    Speaking of Jewels on the Criterion....YOU are a jewel and a wealth of knowledge.
    Most appreciative,
    PS....Keep on stylin’.....ironic, you using the Bronson reel....Bronson Park is very close to a last remaining vestige of the Kalamazoo Shakespeare Company - a great concrete Art Deco building.
  • troy: Shakespeare push button wondercast no.1775
    How can i tell the age?
  • Ron: Is there a two letter model stamped on the reel?
  • MoDoc: Hello to everyone,
    I trust that this comment finds you all doing well and that you all are being ‘blessed!’ I am doing G-R-E-A-T!!!
    Shakespeare developed a very useful ‘Date Code’ system which is easy to use in order to find out what year your reel was manufactured. Not to many reel manufacturers had a coding system that I am aware of?

    May you have a ‘wonderful’ and ‘blessed’ day!
    In His Service,
    MoDoc <,*)))))))))><
    Saint Joseph, MO
  • Don Prince: Thank you. I now know my reel production started in ED or 1967 which is probably around the time I my girlfriend (wife since 1968) bought it for me. :)
  • MoDoc: Hello Mr. Prince and Welcome and Hello to everyone else,
    I trust that you all are having a ‘wonderful’ and ‘blessed’ days! I am doing G-R-E-A-T!!!
    I too, can relate to the same situation as my wife of over 43 years bought a Shakespeare 1795 EF maroon colored and chromed finish fishing reel with a South Bend maroon colored 6′ 6" casting r-o-d the appearance of the rod is still in great shape with the exception of the South Bend paper logo which has faded over the years but this still remains in near ‘perfect’ shape and brings back lots of memories! Over the years I have accumulated a of Shakespeare 1795’s and many different models that were made along with many of the ‘old’ Shakespeare Howald Process fishing rods; Plus some more ‘elite’ fishing tackle which I prefer not to use because of replacement costs and less ‘quality!’
    May you all have a ‘wonderful’ and ‘blessed’ day!!!
    In His Service,
    MoDoc <,*)))))><
    Saint Joseph, MO
  • howard: What would a Shakespeare 1920 model fk in excellent shape be worth
  • MoDoc: Hello and Welcome Howard, Ron and everyone,
    I trust that you all are having a ‘fantastic’ and ‘blessed’ day! I am doing G-R-E-A-T!!!
    Howard, I would say that Ron has given you some ‘excellent’ information!
    When it comes to selling a fishing reel as it is with nearly everything that an individual has to sell. The seller want one price and the buyer most usually has a [rice in mind that he/she is willing to spend with some haggling before reaching a price that suits both seller and buyer.
    Ron is correct in saying that if you have the box that the reel came in that is a plus, the correct paperwork pertaining to the reel, tools that came with the reel and all of these factors will garner a better price. Sometimes, there can be a difference in the grading of the shape that the reel may be in ‘great’ shape with much appeal and the buyer seeing things in a different perspective. Then if it would be a collector that you are dealing with it may be totally and I do mean totally different as they seem to notice more about the item. Again, the bottom line is a price that is agreed upon by both parties, etc.
    Just my input to this issue.
    May you all have a ‘wonderful’ and ‘blessed’ day!!!
    In His Service,
    MoDoc <,*)))))><
    Saint Joseph, MO
  • DDRauch: I have a criterion model 26 with no letter code. When was the code introduced and can I assume that this old reel was made before then
  • Ron: Code was used starting late 20’s to late 70’s.
  • DDRauch: Over the past 40 years I have managed to collect about 100 Shakespeare reels and about 20 different models. Since I retired a couple years ago my hobby has become an obsession.
    The reels I have I have cleaned and logged and displayed, but I have little to no knowledge of the history of the Shakespeare line. I have learned by reading your posting. I thank you for you time and sharing what you have learned. I have 6 reels that say only Honor Built Honor Sold. Criterion 1960, & 1961, Classic #26, Favorite, True Blue, and a Marhoff #26. As I continue to build my collection I will be looking to build my Knowledge base so I can share with my family and friends. Thanks again for the help.
  • Ron: Great collection. I have collected about 40 of the Shakespeare Service reels, and had some new in the box with papers, box, and original receipt. I liked the feel, looks, and how well they were made. I got my first one at a flea market and got hooked on them. There are many around and not expense to buy. I have since sold them all.
    Do you ever take them out and fish with them? I find catching fish on vintage equipment lots of fun. Post some pictures of you collection.
  • DDRauch: I grew up in a Pflueger family and spent all my early years fishing with the bait cast type on solid fiber glass rods. I have not sold any of my collect and am blessed with a son who is also interested in collecting so I hope to pass them on. We have a large variety of makes and models and agree on two things The best reels are $5.00 or less and once we get them home and cleaned up they become priceless. Then I get to do the research Thanks again for the above info. Do you know of other site that may help with Bronson, Ocean City, Great Lakes, Pflueger and others. I Sound greedy I Know but I thought I would ask.
  • Ron: You have come to the right place right here. We have Gene, and other experts here that can handle almost any reel issues. All you have to do is ask.
  • Ned Shelpman: I,ve collected shakespeare fly reels four years. only the 1800 ones (Hc 1938 to EB 1969). How can I find out what they made each year. I know the year each was made but I’m trying to collect everyone of them. Every time I think I have them all, I run across one I don,t have and I have a lot. I’ve been doing this four years. like the 1821, there is 5 different years. I hope you see what I mean. Also, 1821 B meaning bake-0-lite I think. What year was that made? Hope you can help, THANKS
  • Ron: Welcome Ned. Sorry, don’t have information that you are seeking. If Shakespeare doesn’t have the information, I not sure where to find it.
  • DDRauch: Would you have any info on Johnny Walker reels I have two and both were made in Japan. They look like dollar reels to me and both of these are in good to very good shape, but I was wondering if they were made for a larger firm ( Sears ) or major reel maker.
  • Ron: I believe they were sold under the Johnny Walker brand. Here is some information.
  • Eric: All of this is great info. but my question is; I am trying to collect an entire series of one model how would I find out how many "updates" the particular model run had? I am collecting the spinner series of 2052, 2062, 2081, 2091. I am seeing different numbers pop up as well like 2070 and 2071. I want the ones that came in the purple color but I am having a hard time figuring out the production run and what actually was part of this series. Any place online or books that have this information?
    Tight Lines
  • Pete V: Mine is a 2210 LH. It doesn’t seem to fit that code very well, as it’s older than 2003, and obviously younger than 1903 (assuming I’m reading the chart correctly). Doesn’t anyone have any ideas about the production year of my reel?
  • Ron: Shakespeare stopped using date codes in the 70’s. If reels happens to be made after the 70’s, it won’t be letters used for dating. Register and post Some pictures of the reel and we can see if we can date it.
  • Jon: Thanks for the info, are the man!!!
  • gene: 2210 LH is the left handed model.
  • hallen: I have a 1766 model dh haven’t seen much about can you tell me anything about it
  • dustyjoe: Hi Hallen, The DH date code would be 1973. There are several listed on eBay at this time and they are: EC=1965 and EF=1968. There is one that looks like a DH and it is a 1766 II. It is a closed face spinning Wondereel. Jim
  • hallen: That’s what I got do u know about how much its worth
  • dustyjoe: Hi Hallen, Check eBay. Jim
  • Burke Halldorson: I have a Shakespeare Perfect reel Model 1924 and box marked Perfect. Then reel and box also bear the number 23051. Can you tell me much about this reel. I have seen the Model 1912 a number of times but never the Model 1924 Perfect.
  • Ron: Register and post some pictures of the reel.
  • Mike: I came across an old Shakespeare baitcast reel that I can’t find anywhere on the internet. It is a Majestic 1968 with a model #HD. According to your date chart, this would have been made in 1937. This would have been during the heart of the depression. Does this make this particular reel rare?
  • dustyjoe: Hi Burke, The 2 letter date code that Shakespeare used, started in the late 20’s. Before that, the 1912 Model or 1924 Model that was stamped on the bottom of the mounting foot was the start of that model. For instance, the is a Model # 1963 Ideal reel on eBay now that is marked 1924 Model on the foot. There is also a reel marked Universal Precision on the tail plate and the # 23040 stamped below the bearing cap. It is also marked 1924 Model on the foot. I think the # 23040 is probably a serial number. So your reels model name is the Perfect and this model was first made in 1924 until the late 20’s whenever they changed to the 2 letter code. The serial number will tell you how far into the run it was made.

    I don’t know where the serial numbers started, it may have been something like 1001, in which case yours would be the 22,051st reel made. So they probably made the reel for maybe 4 or 5 years and I have no idea how many they made total, but it would be from 1924 to the late 20’s. Jim
  • dustyjoe: Mike, I see there is one listed on eBay, is it yours ? Jim
  • Mike: Yep. That one is mine.
  • skip smith: I just dated my WonderCast No. 1774 using this’s a 1962 model. Thanks for posting this info!
  • Keith: I have a reel that has model 23rd. Your chart doesn’t have it. Can you tell me what year its from?
  • Keith: The model fd sorry about that.
  • Alpenflage: Welcome to the site Keith. Model FD code on a Shakespeare reel translates to 1957 as the production start year for that model design. It does not mean it was manufactured that year. The date codes were not changed on their reels until a significant design tweak or change occurred, then they would give that reel model a new year code. Paul
  • Keith: Would that be a 1930s reel
  • mitch lamb: i have a 2064 eks Shakespeare spinning reel factory manual bail how much is the vaule
  • DDRauch: What is the definition of a Kentucky reel?????
  • skip smith: Hi, Mitch, welcome to Fishing Talks! With vintage tackle, condition is a major factor. Could you please post some photos of your Shakespeare 2064? That’d make it a lot easier for us to give you an idea of what it’s worth. You might also check eBay to see if any of them are offered there and for how much.
    Hi, DDRauch, welcome to you, too! You might try the "search" feature at the top of the page. I seem to recall a blog posted on here about Kentucky reels a while back. If I’m delusional about the blog, "dustyjoe" can help answer your question.
  • DDRauch: Sorry for such a blunt question I want to thank you for responding and I will try a search. I have collected about 500 reels in the past 40 years and was just wondering if there was a difference from what is commonly called a bait caster (Pflueger, Shakespeare, ect.) and those in my collection that do not have level winding ability.
    Thanks again for doing what you do it has always been very helpful.
    If dustyjoe can add info I’m all ears.
  • skip smith: Tell you what, DD, my specialty is spincasters, mainly Johnson. Jim (dustyjoe) is much more knowledgeable than I when it comes to the baitcasters. Don’t know where the old boy is this evening, but I’m sure he can answer your questions. Glad to have you with us!
  • Ron: In my opinion, both baitcasters and level winding reels are considered baitcasters. Maybe I am not understanding your question.
  • dustyjoe: DDRauch, What we call a baitcast reel started out in Kentucky back in the early 1800s. George Snyder was one of the first to make a reel somewhere around 1820, if I remember right, but you can Google his name and find out more about it. He was followed by many others in Kentucky like B.F. Meek, his brother and sons, another named Milam who made reel on his own and with Meek and his sons and others. They have always been called Kentucky Style reels. The early ones didn’t have any Level-Wind mechanism, that came later and Shakespeare had a lot to do with that.
    As to where I’ve been Skip, I fell asleep about 7 PM as I pulled too many all-nighters lately working on the Zebco blog and got up about 10:30 and have been turning that answer about the Pflueger 1895 Akron Free-Spool that wouldn’t stay in Free-Spool into a blog. Jim
  • DDRauch: As always Outstanding information. I have lately spent some time in Frankfort Ky. and became confused on what I was looking at and what I have in my collection.
    Thanks to all who help get this information
  • skip smith: Good morning, Jim! :) I hope you’re all rested up, buddy!
  • dustyjoe: Just got up again at 11:15 AM after taking another nap at 5 AM. I’m acting like Paul now. :) Jim
  • skip smith: Hah! At least you’re well-rested....I sense a nap attack lurking nearby, myself.
  • Ron: Welcome Tracy. Value depends on condition. Register and post some pictures. Ebay has some listed for little as $10.
  • Fly bro0946: How much is it worth
  • DDRauch: Hi to all hope all is well where you are. Seems like I always have a question and no answers but maybe some day. While at a flea market the other day I found an unusual rod and I brought it home. Now I could use help understanding what I have. It is made of steel, about 9 feet long, and the top 2 sections slide into the bottom piece making it about 3 1/2 feet. I remove the old Shakespeare Star reel from the base and found a name of Tiger Tackle and a face like thing between the 2 words. This is all new to me.
    Does anyone have any info to this company. I tried the search but didn’t find much. As always any help will be appreciated.
    Thanks for being out there.
  • Alpenflage:

    DDRaunch, Welcome to the site. I feel you will get more views of your question and help if you make a your own separate post on the forums. Asking questions in a blog comments section do not always yield best results. Especially since your rod is not related to these Shakespeare reel date codes in this blog at all. Please register, it’s free and easy, and post about your rod on the forum. The Other Rods section might be a good choice for you new post. You will need to post some pictures of it as well. It is about impossible to evaluate an item without pics.  Paul 

  • DDRauch: Thanks for the info.
  • tjsarratt: Hi I’m trying to figure out year of make on a Shakespeare 2529 fly reel. Any ideas? Has no date code.
  • Ron: Welcome. You reel was probably after Shakespeare stopped using date codes in the mid 70’s. As to an exact date, I don’t know.
  • Alpenflage: The 2529 fly reel looks to be in the Alpha series from the 1980’s and one of them that was made in Asia, possibly Korea. If that is the case there will not be a date code as Ron mentioned. The last Shakespeare date code I have seen and I have a mini collection of the reels are with CA for 1980. Info says they stopped coding them in the late 1970’s but the two series of U.S. made Shakespeare spincast I collect say otherwise. They fit the 1980’s era as well because of the series names used. I will show them someday on the forum. I’m missing one model to complete the 6 reel set. Paul
  • Scott B: I have a Shakespeare No. 1944 model HD just interested in any info about this reel.
  • dustyjoe: Scott, It would be better to ask this question on the forum, but since you asked here, I’ll tell you a little. The 1944 is a Service reel and is for heavy freshwater or light saltwater use. The HD code means that that particular model was first made in 1937. Your reel could have been made then or up to a change in the model when it would have a later date code. I have a boxed 1944 GE which stands for 1946 and there may have been other date codes between 1937 and 1946, but I can’t say for sure. Jim
  • Bob: struggling to make this fit. i have a very old Model 1924MS. I’m sure it wasn’t made in 1994??? How am I looking at this incorrectly.
  • Ron: That is not a date code. There should be two other letters on the reel.
  • Mark: what about reels without a date letter code?
  • Ron: Date codes were stopped in the late 70’s by Shakespeare.
  • mark: so a 1755 was a ‘’newer reel?'’
  • Alpenflage: Mark, That sellers does not have good enough pictures for me to see the two letter year code. Nor is the two letter code mentioned in the description. The model 1775 is one that I have not paid attention to in regards to whether Shakespeare made changes during the production run and issued more than one year code. Its brother reel the 1774 has at least three different year codes IIRC. For the 1774 FC seems to be the earliest and the latest might be EJ IIRC. If you’re curious about the codes for just the 1775 reels then look at active and closed eBay listings and copy down all the codes you find. Reels that don’t have codes were either made before the coding system (early uncommon reels) or later when productions was mostly shifted to Asia, Japan and Korea early on. The last year code I’m aware of Shakespeare using is CA for 1980 and those reels were still made in the U.S.A. As stated in this blog the year code in most cases does not determine the production year. The code is the beginning year of production for that model version. Some codes they used for over 10 year because no significant changes were made. Other cases they issued a code for one year than the next year they made major changes and issued another new year code. Paul
  • Mark: I guess I will have to look closer! thank you for now
  • Mark: all the work on all my shakespeare reels keeping them oiled a greased ,I have never noticed these letters! some of these I have are almost my age..
    Did all these single pickup reels have some problems picking the line up? I have to be on the constant lookout with an extra thumb to get my reels to snag the line...
  • Alpenflage: Mark, Shakespeare sure didn’t use the largest font available for their die stamps to mark the year codes. The year letters are small on most of the reels. If they started year coding designs and design changes in the 1920 as Flyguy the author of this blog states he was off a little on when they stopped using them. I own 5 examples of U.S. manufactured code CA 1980 reels and have seen many other CA coded reels on eBay through the years. Until recently I thought CA was the last code but it wasn’t. There are two Shakespeare model 1982 Alpha baitcast reels that have come up for sale that are U.S. made with CK year codes on the bottom of the foot. According to the chart that is 1981. Link to one of those reels (not my reel or my listing, just an example).
    One of the great things about this hobby is you constantly learn new things and frequently. It does seem like many of the older single pickup pin reels require a little back tension on the line to keep it down flat enough against the winding head to make it easier for the pin to catch and wind the line. The model of reel and line used makes a difference. I’m in such a habit of pinching the line with my fingers to put some back tension on it to keep it straighter coming off the spool, across the head, and out the front cover that I can’t remember if later models such as the ones with roller pin setups catch the line better or not. Pinching the line as I have trained myself to do makes them all pick up the line and wind it better. Paul
  • Kip: I have a Sportsman 1721…but the Model says only E Any thoughts on date??
  • Not finding information on this model reel: My Shakespeare reel shows:
    Model 26
    100 YDS
    MADE IN U.S.A.
  • Airboat1: I have a shakespeare wonderful 1750 FG can you fell tell me the year it is?
  • Airboat1: Wondereel 1750 FG
  • skip smith: Airboat, if you type in "Shakespeare reel date codes" in the search box, it’ll take you to a blog with a code chart.
  • wcook: Thank you so very much for your blog on dating Shakespeare reels. I am TRYING to sort my reels out and your help is Greatly appreciated! All of the FT folks have been very helpful!!
  • skip smith: The Shakespeare date code blog isn’t my work, Bill, but I’m glad you’re enjoying FT and finding it useful!
  • wcook: Sorry for the mixup.
  • skip smith: Ah, no worries! Just didn’t want to take credit for someone else’s work.
  • kathi: The Shakespeare Wonderreel Level Winding Reel 1920 T-450 w/ lake scene Lexington Mich U.S.A Can you tell a value and year have box and paper instructions.
  • skip smith: Kathi, those of us at Fishing Talks who are website moderators, have found that the best way to get a handle on the value of a fishing reel is to go to eBay, and see what similar reels are being sold for.
    A couple of things to keep in mind: Asking prices aren’t always what the reel actually sells for. Look in "completed auctions" for the best indicator. Also, with vintage reels, condition, condition, condition is very important. Just like location with real estate.
    The fact that you have the original box and paperwork enhances value by a factor of about 50%.
  • gene: those sound like mismatched items Kathi, a shakespeare wondereel would be the 1920.————–T-450 out of lexington mich. would be a baitcaster model made by great lakes.
  • skip smith: There ya go! Wisdom from the master of reels! Thanks, Gene!
  • Sarah: What’s the value of a 1920 Shakespeare wonderreel
  • Nancy Gibour: We have a Shakespeare no. 350-b fishing reel.
    Do you have any info on worth?
  • Gerald: Interesting
    Any information on aShakespear FY1750 Sigma Graphire Rod and a 2755 reel that I have been given - how old, are they trout rods
  • Wendy: My son just bought a Shakespear 2062 DD at a yard sale . Knowing the information on it would be great . It looks old , but preserved .
  • John Hercog: Thanks for your help.
  • James Hartfield: I need a crank handle and nut for 1935 qu Shakespeare
  • Kent Ward: This was a big help. Just found out the reel I found of my grandad was manufactured initially in 1959. He died in 1965. It is a level wind push button wondercast, model 1797 FB. I cleaned it up and works like a champ
  • Steven18: Cool love this site , I can now date my Shakespeare’s ,
  • Lld: Thank you for this amazing chart. It really helped me with all of my dad’s fishing gear.
  • Cheryl: I have a 1733 favorite with no letters shows its made in Kalamazoo USA. Would you know the year for this?
  • James Hartfield: I have several classic reels and a few of them are Shakespeare but cannot find parts for the 1935 direct drive free spool qu reel I have the 1941 qu model and just purchased another 1935 qu but still haven’t found the handle and nut for the other one can anyone help
  • Alpenflage: James, there is a set of Shakespeare 1935 reels on eBay right now. One in the lot might be complete the second is a parts reel.
    Cheryl, Your 1733 could have the full year stamped on the bottom of the foot with other Shakespeare logo stamping. From the mid 1920’s to early 1930’s Shakespeare stamped a two number year either on the tail plate, head plate, or sometimes on the bottom of the foot. Sometimes Model precedes the 2 digit year. So if you find 31 stamped in one of those places on your reel it would mean 1931 was the year if manufacture. Before the two letter code system year stamping varied.
  • Dale: I have a 1965 Professional Level Winding Reel that was produced in 1951 thanks to your chart. Worth anything and what type of line might you use on it?
  • Alpenflage:


    You will have to post pictures of your reel in a regular forum post. You can’t post pictures in this section because this is a persons blog. Below is a link to the Shakespeare section of this forum. Make a new post there for your reel.


    The Shakespeare Professional series reels do have value. They weren’t produced in as great of numbers as many other series of reels. But like most items condition, box, papers... all factor into value. Paul

  • Kristy Rayner: Thank you!
    Bought a #1824 fly reel from a pawn shop and was interested in the date... Now i know it’s EK - 1961
  • LDR: Thank you very much. Production began in 1931 for this real.
  • PAULO CAEIRO: Thank you for the information that you shared.Ihave one shakespeare true blue level winding nº1956 whithout the letters why?
  • Alpenflage: Paulo, From the early 1930’s back tot he early 1910’s they marked the reels with the year number. For instance if you find Model 31 marked on the head plate of tail plate of the reel it was made in 1931. Another method was the year on the bottom of the foot. An example is if on the bottom of the foot one line reads Model 26 then it was manufactured in 1926. From around 1924 back to around the early 1910 they stamped the whole four digit year it was made in the logo information on the bottom of the reels foot. Paul
  • PAULO CAEIRO: Thank you again , i´ve looked more carefully and in the bottom of the foot has or is CO or its number 8 at what year this correspond?
  • dog: very nice thank you
  • Kemp Pace: Hello,
    When did Shakespeare start having their spinning reels made in Japan? Did Shakespeare ever make a skirted spinning reel in the USA, is so which model? What happened the Shakespeare ‘Purdy Stik’? I’ve been searching for one and can’t find one. Thanks.
  • Stan Hillyard: I learned to fish in the 1950s with a Tournament HE. I know my father used it at the old Rush Creek (above Mono lake in California) in 1950. It could have been new at the time but I was 3 years old at the time and never asked. I still have it, albeit dirty and in need of some TLC.
  • Shakespeare: What year was the No.1956 , model 31 made. It is a True Blue Shakespeare.?
  • Stan Hillyard: The Tournament HE (Free Spool) is matched with a Great Lakes Products solid fiberglass rod. I found an online posting with an advertisement for this rod series that was dated 1946 which supports my suspicion that the rod/reel combination was purchased for the 1950 trip to the eastern Sierra in 1950. Does anyone remember the old Rush Creek Test stream? As I remember (ok I was 3-5 years old when our family started fishing there) the test stream was set up by Cal Fish and Game to assess whether brown or rainbow trout were best to be stocked in the eastern Sierra. I remember there was a check point where we stopped and our catch was recorded by Cal F and G wardens.

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