165: Theodore Gordon's Fly Vice
If ever there was a crown jewel for the fly tyer, this vice owned by Mr. Gordon would be considered the Holy Grail. This is the very vice that Gordon created his patterns that were to be indigenous to the waters of the Catskills. The vice is marked "L. Hugoniot-Tisso", which was a French manufacturer of tools for watchmakers, jewelers and clockmakers. After Gordon's death, Roy Steenrod had taken possession of the vice and was the guardian for many years. It was then passed on to Sparse Grey Hackle, who photographed the head of the vise to hold a Roy Steenrod's Hendrickson fly for his book, "Fishless Days, Angling Nights". Mr.David Sutcliffe, who according to a notarized and signed statement from him in 1980 outlines the lineage of the owner's of the vice. Mr. Sutcliffe states that he obtained the vice from Sparse Grey Hackle. Later he sold this piece of history to Theodore Gordon Peck IV according to the present owner, Theodore Gordon Peck V. The notarized letter from Mr. Sutcliffe and a signed statement from Theodore Gordon Peck V will be included in this sale. The vise is in Very Good condition with some plating loss. No name In American fly-fishing invokes such reverence and respect as Theodore Gordon. During the early and middle part of the 19th century, American anglers were heavily reliant on fishing tackle from England. By the later part of the century, thanks to the creativity and innovation of Vom Hofe, Payne, Leonard and others, America was producing some of the finest rods and reels available. But flies were another matter. It was Theodore Gordon’s innovation that created independence for US fly patterns. Through articles in both Forest & Stream and The Fishing Gazette, as well as comprehensive correspondence with Frederic Halford and GEM Skues in England, Gordon was able to interpret patterns from abroad and translate them into relevant patterns for home waters. For this feat of ingenuity, he has earned an eternal place in fly-fishing’s hierarchy and is accepted as The Father of American Dry-Fly Fishing. However, little was said or thought of him until John D McDonald’s The Complete Fly Fisherman: The Notes and Letters of Theodore Gordon was published in 1947. Only then did his achievements come to the knowledge of a wider public, and Gordon achieved the recognition and accolades he so richly deserved. In his later years, Gordon spent some time at his relative’s estate, Sampsondale in Haverstraw, NY. At that time he lived a humble life, and as Tom Capstick Jr. wrote in an article featuring Gordon’s remaining tackle in Fly Fisherman of March, 1980: “It was here that Gordon probably spent his happiest years. He was surrounded by servants and luxury, and had his own private quarters where he would tie flies and keep up his voluminous correspondence with Skues, Halford and Marston.” At the time of his death, he was living in Liberty, NY. All of his possessions were said to have been burned because Gordon suffered from tuberculosis, and there were fears that the disease could be spread through anything he had touched. So his books, fly-tying materials, and a rumored manuscript – all considered historical treasures today – were destroyed. Until now, only two fly rods were believed to have survived: a Leonard that is under the protective eye of The American Museum of Fly Fishing, and a Payne that resides at The Angler’s Club of NY. Other than these two items, only a few Gordon flies have surfaced and been offered for sale privately or through auction. It is with great honor and privilege that Crossroads Angling Auction can now make available the following personal fishing tackle items of the great Theodore Gordon.