Here’s an interesting ad I received from bass historian Bill Sonnett a couple months ago. The ad is from 1955 and was placed in a 1955 Field and Stream magazine. What makes the ad interesting is it’s debuting the new Swedish Ambassadeur level wind reel – models 5000 and 6000 – and nowhere in the ad is there any mention of Garcia.
This confused me a bit so I sent off an email to Bill and asked if he knew why there was no mention of Garcia and who Julian A. Wesseler was. Bill directed me to a gentleman who he said, “Has forgotten more about ABU than you and I will ever know combined.”
That man is Fred Ribb.
I sent Fred an email asking the same question and received, almost instantly, a reply. Here’s what Fred said:
“When the Ambassadeur bait caster came to America in 1954, it was Julian A. Wesseler that secured the contract with ABU to sell their reel. The reel was actually offered to the Garcia Corp. first, but Tom Lenk (Garcia’s company head) showed little interest. It wasn’t long before Tom saw the reel’s potential and a deal was struck between Garcia and ABU in 1956. Garcia cataloged the Ambassadeur for the first time in 1957.”
I don’t know about you but that is a pretty neat piece of history regarding one of the most successful reels of all time.
If you’re interested in learning more about ABU, please go to Fred’s site, Fred’s Classic ABU Reel Information. His site has all sorts of cool ABU history that includes non-ABU Ambassadeurs, ABU Records and hard to find ABUs. If you like ABU/Garcia history, you’ll love his site.