Ladyfisher
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 28th, 2002

What's In A Name?


I've got a problem.

There are times you see something with a title or name which you instantly understand. Or an article may be 'an authentic replica,' as in things produced for museums. There are types of furniture made today in the manner of certain famous makers. We know Chippendale (no, not the male dancers) didn't produce the piece, but the style and design are of that manner and time period. Some furniture makers even go so far as to use the exact tools the old makers used. All of the parts, including glues and fabrics when possible.

What about a fly rod?

If the rod states, 'Leonard' is it a Leonard? There are cane rod makers who are doing just that, putting the name of the TAPER on the rod. Printing Leonard, or Payne, or Young or whomever's name on a rod might just be illegal. It sure is misleading, and tacky to say the least. Is it plagerism? Or is that just for writing?

Yes, I know the cane rod makers measure, mic and thoroughly inspect every detail possible to make rods as close to the originals as possible. The tapers are published in books and newsletters, shared in classes and gatherings around the world. Nothing wrong with that.

But to somehow indicate the rod in your hand, with Payne printed on the side IS a Payne, when it is a Payne taper made by another maker is wrong. Oh, you tell the buyer it is a Payne taper. . .or the buyer orders a specific famous taper, fine - but what happens 40 or 50 years from now when the heir of that person ends up with the rod and didn't ever know you? Or that you built it for their dad? What is it now?

If I built a Rolls Royce which was no longer in their product line, very carefully matched every single detail, including putting the name on the grill, is it a Rolls Royce? Could I sell it as a Rolls? Would the Brits probably be in touch with their attorney to stop me from producing 'my Rolls?'

I have no objection to rod builders using the old, tried and true tapers. It would seem to me a permanent type of tag, record, letter, certificate of who built the rod, what the taper is, date the rod was produced could serve as a record of the rod. If the rod is to have any writing on it at all, (and I personally am not fond of seeing a signature scrawled on it) it should carry a maker's mark which, if the rod maker is serious about his craft, could be registered very easily through the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office. That way the rod would be traceable by future owners.

Many times builders modify slightly some old standard taper, usually feeling they are in fact improving on the original. The maker then scribes his name on this improved version. He is not trying to take advantage of another's notoriety.

There are a number of talented cane rod makers these days, building good sticks; to them my admiration. To those who are so insecure about their own abilities they feel they need to adorn their rods with the usurped names of previous famous rod makers, I suggest you rethink your motives. As well as how using that 'other' name reflects on you. If you feel you need another name on the rod, try putting the buyers name on it, that seems to have fallen out of fashion too.

Somehow I don't expect the Payne, Leonard, or Young families to be filing law suits over the use of their name on rods not of their making. And maybe that's why no one else is saying anything against it. But it still is not the "right thing" to do. ~ LadyFisher

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