The Benjamin Thumezy was invented by Reuben Benjamin and was made by
the Benjamin-Sellar Mfg. Co. in Chicago, IL. The Thumezy is perhaps
one of the most complex and most aesthetically pleasing of any
fishing reel ever made. Push the thumb cradle once and the reel
goes in to free-spool mode. Once the reel is in free-spool, the
thumb cradle is used as a brake for the spool. The reel was only
made for a couple of years starting in 1913. It came in the
two styles shown in the photos below.
Reuben Berkley Benjamin was born May 20, 1869 in Fulton, NY. He received
an Electrical Engineering degree from Iowa State College in 1892 and went
to work for Commonwealth Edison Company in Chicago. It didn’t take him
long to demonstrate his ingenuity by receiving his first patent in January
19, 1897 for an Incandescent Lamp Socket. This was the first of many
patents he was to receive. By the time he died on December 26, 1933, he
had been granted over 350 patents. Most of his patents were associated
with electrical lighting and were assigned to the company he founded – Benjamin
Electric Manufacturing Company. The Company is still in business today.
Reuben Benjamin and George Alan Sellar founded the Benjamin-Sellar Manufacturing
Company in Chicago, IL. George was born in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland and was the
Secretary and Manager of the Company. Benjamin-Sellar sold mostly hand tools and toys.
Benjamin received two patents that were the basis of the “Thumezy” reel. The first one
was filed on December 13, 1910 and was patented on February 22, 1916. It had a basic
representation of the reel’s features, but not all the details as shown in Benjamin’s
second reel patent. This patent was filed on January 2, 1914 and was patented in the
same year as the first on July 4, 1916. The dates are interesting since the reel was
introduced to the public in December, 1912 in The Hardware Reporter and Commercial
America publications. The first advertisements for the reel are seen in sporting
magazines in early 1913. The latest one I’ve seen is in 1914. This must have been a
frustration for Benjamin having to wait 6 years for his patents. The late patent award
dates is the reason why the reels are marked patent pending. By the time he received
the patents in 1916, the reel was no longer being produced.
The Benjamin “Thumezy” reel came in two different models. The first model is depicted
in the 1913 advertisements and in the patent filed in 1914. It has four distinct
radially oriented reinforcing ribs which provide stiffness to the end plates.
The second model is noticeably heavier and does not include the end plate reinforcing
The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Reels, circa 1913
The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Patent Model Reel, circa 1913
The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Second Model Reel, circa 1914
The BENJAMIN THUMEZY Reel Box, circa 1913
BENJAMIN THUMEZY 1913 Ads Showing Patent Model
BENJAMIN THUMEZY 1914 Ad Showing Second Model
BENJAMIN THUMEZY Reel Box Pamphlet
For any questions about vintage antique fishing reels,
lures or tackle, please feel free to Email or Call me.
I always like to talk about old tackle.
Remember, I'm always buying old vintage fishing lures and reels!