B. F. Meek Kentucky Fishing Reels

B.F. Meek Kentucky Fishing Reels

B.F. Meek - Louisville, KY

B.F. Meek started as a jeweler and watchmaker in Frankfort, KY. He moved to Louisville in 1883 when he established his reel making shop with his sons. The reels he made from 1883 up until 1892 were marked "B.F. Meek". He had previously been partners with his brother and made reels marked "J.F. & B.F. Meek" (circa 1839 to 1850) and later with fellow apprentice B.C. Milam and marked the reels "Meek & Milam" (circa 1853 to 1881). He is credited with making the first reel to incorporate spiral cut gears, jeweled pivot bearings and oil holes for the bearings. B.F. Meek died in 1901.

Meek History - B.F. Meek's son, Pitman, and his brother, Sylvanus, are credited with making the early reels marked "B.F. Meek & Sons". Pitman started making reels with his father when it started as "B.F. Meek" in 1883. Pitman died in 1896. Sylvanus started reel making in 1886 and continued in the business until 1898 when the company was sold. They sold the company to the 3 businessmen Sutcliffe, Carter and O’Conner. For a 2 year period around 1900, the reels were marked "Blue Grass Reel Works." This was a time when there was litigation between the Meek company and the Milam company on who can lay claim to the title of "The Frankfort Kentucky Reel."

There are three grades of reels marked "B.F. Meek & Sons." The most expensive were simply marked No. 2, No. 3, etc. The mid-grade reels were the Blue Grass line. They were marked Blue Grass No. 3, 4 or 5. The inexpensive line were take-apart-type reels and were marked with the No.'s 25, 33 or 34. The reels were marked "B.F. Meek & Sons" until 1916 when the company was sold to Horton Mfg. in Connecticut.

The No. 44 fly reel is by far the most sought after by collectors. It's simple, yet elegant design makes it aesthetically pleasing. The other reels that are scare are the larger size reels like the No.'s 6, 7 and 8. The No. 10 and No. 11 were the largest reels made by them. Another unique Meek reel is one marked "CLUB SPECIAL." It's a No. 2 size reel with a larger than normal 1 3/4 inch wide spool.

All Meek fishing reels are collectable and those marked "J.F. & B.F. Meek" or "B.F. Meek" are very rare.

B.F. MEEK Photo

The B.F. MEEK NO. 3 Reels

The B.F. MEEK NO. 4 Reels

The B.F. MEEK NO. 1 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 2 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 2 Reels, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 3 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 3 Reel, circa 1892

The B.F. MEEK NO. 3 Reels, circa 1883

The B.F. MEEK NO. 4 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 5 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 6 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 7 Reel, circa 1885

The B.F. MEEK NO. 7 Size Narrow Spool Reel, circa 1890

MEEK Reel Sizes 6, 7 & 8

To see the PowerPoint Presentation made by Ron Gast at the 2013 ORCA Convention in Frankfort, KY, about B.F. Meek Reels, click on the link below.

Link to B.F. Meek Reels 2013 ORCA Convention Presentation

To see an interview with B.F. Meek contained in the April 13, 1895 Frankfort Roundabout Newspaper, click on the link below.

Link to B.F. Meek Interview in 1895 Frankfort Roundabout Newspaper

To see magazine articles written about the history of the Kentucky Reel, click on the links below.

Outing Magazine, "Evolution of the Kentucky Reel", by Dr. James A. Henshall, Dec. 1900

Forrest and Stream Magazine, "History of the Kentucky Reel", Interview with J. L. Sage, Jan. 1915

Forrest and Stream Magazine, "More About The Kentucky Reel", Dr. James A. Henshall, Feb. 1915

Field & Stream, "The Kentucky Reel", by Robert Lincoln Page, March, 1930

Field & Stream, "My Old Kentucky Reel", by A.J. McClane, January, 1953

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!

Email me at: ron@luresnreels.com or Call or Text me at: 407-496-7940


Ron Gast

Orlando, FL

Member and Co-Founder of Florida Antique Tackle Collectors, Inc. (FATC), Charter Member of Old Reel Collectors Club (ORCA), Member of National Fishing Lure Collectors Club (NFLCC)

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