Shield of Dreams

A recent tragic event brought back both memories and a collectable object which caused controversy 30 years ago.

Sadly a friend who worked in my tackle shop for some 16 years passed away, both he and his wife succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning, from a coal fire.

The family had been instructed by him that should anything happen get in touch with John to sort out my collection.

It’s some 20 years since I closed the Tackle Exchange to concentrate on antique reels and rods, and I’d seen little of him since then.

When I got to the house I was shocked at the size of his collection. He had obviously continued collecting after the shop closure.

I brought in Thomas Turner’s buying power to take the entire collection with the exception of the cased fish and a shield. 

This is no ordinary shield; this was the Northern Anglers Association North Staffordshire Central Challenge Shield dating back to 1908.

Many local clubs have won it including Burslem Isaak Walton, Congleton, Stoke A.S, Rugeley and so on.

Two tiny solid silver Fishing rods with centre-pin reels and line sit atop the solid silver shield face.

It’s significance to me was that I bought it in 1992 from a local auction paying a fortune for it. Historically it’s a one-off and represents the local angling history and I was not letting it out of the area.

It was proudly displayed at home, then in my tackle shop and thousands of anglers enjoyed seeing it. The local paper heard of it and came round to do a photoshoot/article.

The next week there was uproar as the local clubs found out I had it and demanded it back.

Happily, when I wrote to their solicitors giving my resale price the fishing club committee decided to buy a stretch of water instead.

So the shield stayed put until I closed and to this day I can’t remember who bought it.

So to find it in my friend’s house was a sign, a sign to say, “This time keep it.”

After hours of silver polishing, it’s back to its brilliant shining glory. The central hand-painted Staffordshire painted enamel is just gleaming. Standing 3 feet tall in its original oak case, it is a bit of an eye-catcher and will stay in the family ongoing.