Fishing reel proves prize catch at auction

ONE of Britain's oldest fishing reels dating back to the days of Captain Cook has been sold for £6,000 – stunning auctioneers who expected it to fetch no more than £800.

The Yorkshire family who owned the reel for years had also not dreamed it was worth as much as the four-figure sum it reached.

A fishing author was determined to become the owner of the brass and ivory gem – made by Onesimus Ustonson – inventor of the first multiplying reel in 1770 – whose tackle shop in Temple Bar, London, was an 18th century mecca for those taking up the sport.

They included the pioneering botanist Sir Joseph Banks who bought tackle there before embarking with Cook for his voyage of discovery on Resolution, as well as three monarchs including Queen Victoria.

The unnamed seller, a Scarborough man who inherited the reel from his father – an estate worker for a titled family – brought it into Duggleby's auctioneers in the seaside town.

The beautifully engraved script on the equipment recorded it as a Ustonson original. Because such finds are so rare Duggleby's had little information on which to base a valuation of 500 to 800.

However on the day of the sale a mystery buyer was at the Vine Street saleroom, outbidding rivals and sending the price soaring.

Director Jane Duggleby said: "He knew it was so rare and was determined to get it. The chap who brought it in did not have any idea how much it was worth. He is a one-parent family having to bring his son up on his own."

The buyer, who also asked not be named, is a leading angling expert and author.