Shakespeare Fishing Tackle - Over 100 Years of Excellence in
"Because of their contributions and longevity in
the tackle industry, the Shakespeare name remains one of the most
recognizable to the public. As such, it has a fascinating history
within the tackle industry. . ." — Fishing Tackle Trade News, Dec. 92
Date Line: Kalamazoo, Michigan
- 1896 – William Shakespeare, Jr., an avid
fisherman of 27 years, wanted to improve on existing fishing reels
so he came up with a device for winding fishing line evenly back on
the spool. William patents the level-wind reel and his new design
was superior to anything on the market. As a result, this feature is
now common on most fishing reels.
- 1897 – With his experience in advertising,
camera manufacturing, medicine and his love for fishing he founded
The William Shakespeare, Jr. Company growing to a dozen employees by
- 1908 – Shakespeare Company slogan was
created– "Built Like a Watch"
- 1915 – Name changed to The Shakespeare
- 1918 – During World War I The Shakespeare
Company factory was converted to manufacture mortar fuses and
- 1920 – More than 5000 dealers specialized in
- 1939 – Anglers needed a way to apply a light
action reel brake to prevent spools from back-lashing so William
Shakespeare Jr. invented one, the "Backlash" Brake. The new
Wondereel® was one of the most popular reels to ever hit the fishing
tackle market. At the same time William patented a new two-gear
direct drive reel.
- 1941 – World War II: The company had
contracts to build controls for aircraft, tanks, and jeeps.
- 1946 – Line production moved to Esterville,
Iowa and incorporated as the Soo Valley Company. In addition to
braided and fly line, Shakespeare was one of the firsts to
manufacture monofilament line from raw materials.
- 1947 – The company is in it's 50th year of
operation. Henry Shakespeare (William's son) is in charge. He
introduces the President Reel and the newest innovation in fishing
rods – the glass fiber Wonderod®. Invented by Dr. Arthur M. Howald,
this rod revolutionized the fishing rod market and made bamboo and
steel virtually obsolete.
- 1947 – Rod production moved to Columbia,
South Carolina and was incorporated as the Columbia Products
Company. This new factory was the center of research and development
for fiberglass construction.
- 1950 – William Shakespeare, Jr. passed away
on June 25th
- Circa 1953 – Development of the push-button
Wondercast® spinning reel.
- 1954 – Shakespeare manufactured the first
fiberglass radio antennas, golf club shafts, pool cues, archery
equipment, and numerous industrial materials.
- 1956 – Line production moved to Columbia, SC
- 1959 – William Shakespeare, Jr. is elected to
the National Sporting Goods Hall of Fame.
- 1965 – Shakespeare moves reel production from
Kalamazoo, Michigan to a new plant in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
(Interesting note: The plant was one of the first in the country to
treat polluted factory waste water and return it pure and filtered
- 1965 – With production growing, Columbia
Products expands rod operations to a new plant in Newberry, South
Carolina. This became the production center for fiberglass products.
- 1965 – Noris Shakespeare, LTD. Was
established in Great Britain.
- 1966 – Shakespeare acquires the Pflueger®
Company (formerly known as The Enterprise Company).
- 1968 – Shakespeare Company opened a
subsidiary in Ontario, Canada called Shakespeare Company (Canada)
Ltd. in Rexdale.
- 1970 – Shakespeare corporate headquarters
moved from Kalamazoo to Columbia, SC.
- 1972 – Shakespeare buys Southern Tackle
- 1972 – March – Shakespeare Company listed
2,479,680 shares of stock on the New York Exchange under the ticker
- 1979 – Anthony Industries of Los Angeles, CA
purchased 35% of Shakespeare Company stock.
- 1982 – Operations in Arkansas closed and
moved to Columbia. All Shakespeare facilities are now located in
- 1996 – Shakespeare gets a new corporate
identity: Anthony Industries changes to K2, Inc.