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One day this summer an editor of this magazine was buying tackle from Jim Deren, owner of a store called the Angler's Roost in New York. "I have an interesting item here," Deren remarked. " Theodore Gordon's fly box."
The owner of the box was a Major Rex C. Carthew, who had been given it by Mrs. Theodore Gordon Peck Sr., a cousin of Gordon by marriage. Carthew belongs to the elite Anglers' Club of New York, which has a display of 11 of Gordon's flies. But the box contained 101 flies, mostly dries, including three Quill Gordons undoubtedly tied by the master himself. Here was perhaps the greatest collection of Gordon's flies in existence.
The flies had been left with Deren for steaming, which restores the set of crushed hackles. Bits of leader gut still clung to some flies, snipped close to the hook eyes and revealing that Gordon used a Turle knot, one of the safest. The authenticity of the box, which measures 6 x 3� inches, was checked—though it looks modern, it was made in England about 1903—and permission was obtained to photograph it before the flies were steamed, showing them in all probability as Gordon last saw them.
THE BOX'S CONTENTS: left leaf (opposite page). Top row, reading from left: a Pale Quill, an experimental pattern, Governor, and a pair of Beaverkills. Row 2: Olive Quill, two Red Spinners, experimental, Black Gnat. Row 3: a moth-eaten wet fly, Black Quill, Blue Quill. Row 4:a sedge, Pale Evening Dun, two Quill Gordons, Hofland's Fancy. Row 5: Yellow Sally, Female March Brown, Pale Watery Dun, three Evening Duns with hackle variations. Row 6: experimental light Cahill, Black Gnat, variations of Cow Dungs. Row 7: Ginger Quill, Pale Evening Dun. Right leaf (opposite page). Top row: experimental, Beaverkill. Row 2: variant of Coachman, and Coachman. Row 3: experimental May fly, a Wickham's Fancy, experimental. Row 4: a Quill Cock-y-bondhu, Pale Evening Dun, experimental May fly, moth-eaten experimental, Gold-ribbed Hare's Ear. Row 5: experimental, Pale Evening Dun, two moth-eaten, indistinguishable flies. Row 6: an experimental Cahill, unknown spent-wing. Row 7: Blue'Quill, experimental dun, experimental May fly.
Left leaf (above). Top row, reading from left: Queen of Waters wet fly, two experimental forward-wing dry flies. Row 2: three Beaverkills. Row 3: palmered Hare's Ear, experimental, Dark Olive Dun, Lead-wing Coachman, Lady Beaverkill. Row 4: a Queen of Waters, Yellow Sally, three Queen of Waters. Row 5: Ginger Quill, a Pale Olive Dun, gold-ribbed body. Row 6: two experimentals, Skues Hackle, trout-chewed Light Cahill. Row 7: a dun and three Wickham's Fancies.
Right leaf (above), reading from left. Top Row: Quill Gordon, experimental, May fly variation with badger hackle, Halford's Hare's Ear. Row 2: two Wickham's Fancies, two Pale Evening Duns, Hare's Ear. Row 3: two Pale Olives, a dun, and an experimental Coachman with red tag. Row 4: Watery Dun, Silver Sedge, two Pale Olives, Halford's Hare's Ear. Row 5: experimental pattern with Hare's Ear body and sedge wings, Red Spinner, a Claret Gnat. Row 6: an experimental sedge with big wings, possibly for night fishing, a Red Spinner. Row 7: an experimental.
Some of the flies are moth-eaten but others have obviously been chewed up by fish. An interesting sidelight—some with gut remaining had inadvertent, "wind" knots, long a plague of fly fishermen everywhere.