Benjamin Sellar Thumezy Fishing Reels

Benjamin-Sellar Mfg. Co. Thumezy Fishing Reel

Benjamin-Sellar Mfg. Co. - Chicago, IL

The Benjamin Thumezy was invented by Reuben Benjamin and was made by the Benjamin-Sellar Mfg. Co. in Chicago, IL. The Thumezy is perhaps one of the most complex and most aesthetically pleasing of any fishing reel ever made. Push the thumb cradle once and the reel goes in to free-spool mode. Once the reel is in free-spool, the thumb cradle is used as a brake for the spool. The reel was only made for a couple of years starting in 1913. It came in the two styles shown in the photos below.

Reuben Berkley Benjamin was born May 20, 1869 in Fulton, NY. He received an Electrical Engineering degree from Iowa State College in 1892 and went to work for Commonwealth Edison Company in Chicago. It didn’t take him long to demonstrate his ingenuity by receiving his first patent in January 19, 1897 for an Incandescent Lamp Socket. This was the first of many patents he was to receive. By the time he died on December 26, 1933, he had been granted over 350 patents. Most of his patents were associated with electrical lighting and were assigned to the company he founded – Benjamin Electric Manufacturing Company. The Company is still in business today. Reuben Benjamin and George Alan Sellar founded the Benjamin-Sellar Manufacturing Company in Chicago, IL. George was born in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland and was the Secretary and Manager of the Company. Benjamin-Sellar sold mostly hand tools and toys.

Benjamin received two patents that were the basis of the “Thumezy” reel. The first one was filed on December 13, 1910 and was patented on February 22, 1916. It had a basic representation of the reel’s features, but not all the details as shown in Benjamin’s second reel patent. This patent was filed on January 2, 1914 and was patented in the same year as the first on July 4, 1916. The dates are interesting since the reel was introduced to the public in December, 1912 in The Hardware Reporter and Commercial America publications. The first advertisements for the reel are seen in sporting magazines in early 1913. The latest one I’ve seen is in 1914. This must have been a frustration for Benjamin having to wait 6 years for his patents. The late patent award dates is the reason why the reels are marked patent pending. By the time he received the patents in 1916, the reel was no longer being produced. The Benjamin “Thumezy” reel came in two different models. The first model is depicted in the 1913 advertisements and in the patent filed in 1914. It has four distinct radially oriented reinforcing ribs which provide stiffness to the end plates. The second model is noticeably heavier and does not include the end plate reinforcing ribs.

Benjamin-Sellar Mfg. Co. was also involved in making toys for children. One of their largest toy sets was "The Boy Contractor." Using molds in the kit, a child could make small cement blocks and use them to make building structures.

The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Reels, circa 1913

The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Patent Model Reel, circa 1913

The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Second Model Reel, circa 1914

The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Reel Box, circa 1913

BENJAMIN THUMEZY 1913 Ads Showing Patent Model

BENJAMIN THUMEZY 1914 Ad Showing Second Model


BENJAMIN-SELLAR "The Boy Contractor" Instruction Booklet

BENJAMIN-SELLAR "The Boy Contractor" Instruction Booklet

For any questions about vintage antique fishing reels, lures or tackle, please feel free to Email or Call me. I always like to talk about old tackle.

Remember, I'm always buying old vintage fishing lures and reels!

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Ron Gast

Orlando, FL

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