Garcia ABU Reel Handbook, circa 1957-58.

Recently I came across a small Garcia ABU handbook that piqued my interest.  It had no date in it but the contents told me it was prior to the 1960s.  Today in Garcia ABU Pre-1960, we’re going to go through this little 24-page handbook and see if we can make some sense of when it actually came out.

One of the hardest things in archiving old tackle and ephemera is dating it.  Ads are one of the best ways in which to do this as are old manufacturer’s catalogs.  But what drives me nuts is having a catalog that has no date in it.  This little Garcia catalog fits right in that category.

It has been documented here that Garcia Corporation was first offered the contract to sell the Swedish ABU reels in the United States in 1954.  Garcia showed little interest in representing the reel and Julian A. Wesseler, Importer was able to land the contract.

After a year, Tom Lenk, head of Garcia, realized his mistake and successfully negotiated with ABU to get the contract.  Garcia would begin its long-standing relationship with ABU starting in 1956.  In 1957, Garcia debuted the ABU 5000 and 6000 reels in their catalog.

Searching this catalog for a date, I noticed a few telltales that brought me to the realization this catalog was pre-1960.  For one, the left sideplate of the reel on page 8 displays the Record emblem above Ambassadeur.  Then I cross referenced this on Fred Ribb’s Classic ABU Reel site.

On Fred’s site he states that in 1954, the Record Ambassadeur 5000 was the first reel to make it to the United States.  Then the Record name was phased out in 1957.  In 1958 they started engraving ABU in place of Record.

Ribb also talks about a transition period between 1957 and ’58 where neither Record nor ABU was placed above the word Ambassadeur.  This can be seen on page 3 of the handbook.

Another tell is the oil port incorporated into the spool tension knobs on the left and right sideplates.

After examining these traits, I have to say the handbook is from either 1957 or 1958.  Pretty cool if you’re an ABU fan.

What I like about this handbook is its detail.  On the first few pages it introduces the reel and explains why the 5000 and 6000 are unlike any reel on the market.  Yes, it weighed more than any other U.S. made bass reel at the time but there was no other reel on the market that could compare with it from an engineering standpoint.  And, adjusted correctly, there was no other reel that could cast farther.

The handbook went into each component on the reel, specific instructions on how to oil it, as well as how to take it apart.  On page 8 there was a detailed engineering cutaway as well as an exploded view.  Page 9 provided a complete part list with prices.

But Garcia didn’t just want to sell you a reel.  They wanted to sell you multiple reels and in order to do that, you, the customer, needed to know how to cast it.

Starting on page 10 Garcia talked about balanced gear and how to hold the rod and reel for the best casting experience.  Then they gave detailed instructions on how to cast, how to retrieve, and how to set the drag.  All important concepts for the novice baitcaster.

Pages 17 through 22 were dedicated to casting and fighting fish.  After reading the handbook several times, it drove home how much Garcia cared about its customers.  They wanted them to have a great experience on the water.  Today, I can’t think of any company that goes through this amount of work to provide the detail this little 4-inch by 5-inch handbook provided.

I hope you enjoyed looking back at this vintage Garcia handbook as much as I did.  It really hit home how much the tackle industry cared about its customers back in the day.

The rest of the handbook can be seen in the images below.

If you’re an ABU freak, another great website to visit is Wayne Reals’ site, RealsReels.com.  Between Wayne and Fred, you’re bound to fill your need for ABU information.

Garcia ABU Handbook Front and Back Cover, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 2 and 3, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 4 and 5, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 6 and 7, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 8 and 9, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 10 and 11, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 12 and 13, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 14 and 15, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 16 and 17, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 18 and 19, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 20 and 21, circa 1957-58.
Garcia ABU Handbook Pages 22 and 23, circa 1957-58.