It’s a bit of a mystery here, Hardy were advertising reels way back in the 1880s catalogues and certainly some were made by Malloch of Perth. Categorically the crank wind models, rarely seen but they do pop up now and again.
Indeed if you look at many of the Malloch bronzed brass reels with the 2 screw centre fixing they are virtually identical to the Hardy examples.
Same applies to the ebonite and German silver rim early models, in a range of sizes, trout & salmon.
Hardy refers to the “Birmingham” revolving plate reel as “brass bronze revolving plate reel” and claim highest quality at the price. Interesting a wee notation in the 1889 catalogue states “the above (reels) can be produced in sterling silver to order” now there’s a find and I have seen a few.
In John Drewett’s excellent book “Hardy Brothers, the Masters the Men and their Reels” (if you don’t have this book, get one now) he makes mention of the advertised dates of these reels in the late 1870s for crank wind, into the 1880’s for revolving plate & onto approx. 1920 when they all but died out.
But where did calling them “Birmingham” come from?
Now there is good speculation and some evidence many reels were made by and bought in from Rueben Heaton and Smith & Wall of Birmingham, Allcock’s of Redditch and David Slater of Newark and stamped for or by Hardy.
But… when did the phrase Birmingham come into use, or is it another case of “spitfire” finish reels, a phrase coined by Jamie Maxtone-Graham sticking and now becoming the accepted phrase for the bright finish.
So, who knows the answer to this conundrum?