[a 2010 article - re-produced here purely for information]
Also added was box number 9, an asymmetrical ‘pipe cleaner’ box with one side deeper than the other, the idea being that larger winged flies didn’t get squashed.
Hardy Neroda Article, February 2010,
(copyright Brian Taylor 2010)
Looking for something to collect? The sport of angling has long offered collectable accessories - vintage reels, fine split cane rods and beautifully tied flies immediately spring to mind. From Elfric the Abbot writing in his “Collequy” in the tenth century, via Dame Juliana’s “Treatyse of ffyshynge with an Angle” in 1496, to contemporary magazines, blogs and forums, anglers have long been fascinated by their equipment. Many of these ‘tools’ are useable assets and often prove to be good investments. Quality goods appreciate, remain collectable, and your grandchildren may one day be pleasantly surprised. The subject of this article is an object where there is a distinct possibility of getting that rare thing, a “full set”.
Most people, and all anglers, know the company - “Hardy Brothers of Alnwick”. A business established in the 19th century which has supplied Kings and scholars, Maharajas and dilettantes, Presidents and trout bums with some of the worlds finest fishing kit. First appearing in their 1934 Hardy’s Anglers’ Guide is the Hardy Neroda Fly Box. This Bakelite box was an improvement on their previous Japanned Tin fly boxes, which were prone to rusting and the japanning flaked off. The Neroda Fly Box continued to grace Hardy’s catalogues until at least 1963 and was gone by 1967.
Bakelite was the world's first synthetic plastic. Its electrical non-conductivity and heat-resistance made it suitable for many applications. Created by the Belgian inventor, Dr Leo Baekeland in 1907 it has been used for many things including electrical insulators, old radios and telephones, jewellery boxes, pipe stems, eggcups and salt and pepper pots. Polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydrideit or phenol formaldehyde (PF) as it is commonly called, with the application of heat and pressure becomes what we now call Bakelite.
After a lot of help from the British Plastics Historical Society, the conclusion is that Bakelite Ltd made these boxes. To quote Ian Holdsworth of the Plastics Historical Society: “The history of the Bakelite company is a little complicated and at this time (late 1920’s/early 30’s) you have to think of Bakelite Ltd. as a group or amalgamation of a number of different companies, including two moulding companies called Mouldensite Ltd and Redmanol Ltd. Both of these companies were absorbed under the Bakelite umbrella and produced quality moulded goods from Bakelite phenolic moulding powders. Either could have made your boxes although I favour Redmanol Ltd. in particular as it was famous for producing high quality mouldings - albeit now under the generic Bakelite Ltd. company name.”
We believe that the bare Bakelite boxes then went to Messrs Richard Wheatley at their Constitution Hill Works in Birmingham where they were fitted out. Wheatley were long established manufacturers of Fly clips and Leather Goods. During discussions with Clive Edwards, owner and curator of the Richard Wheatley Museum, he confirmed that they produced a number of items for Hardy Bros including block leather reel cases, fly and cast wallets and black japanned clip boxes. He also pointed out that Hardy’s Holdtite clips, as seen in the Neroda Fly boxes, could be found in some examples of Wheatleys own brand boxes.
Enough of the science, Hardy’s 1934 catalogue introduced the new product and showed 8 different boxes:
The boxes were available in two separate nominal sizes, 6 ¼” x 3 ¾” and 3 ⅞” x 2 ½”.
The ‘clip’ boxes varied in the number of clips, 40 & 119 in the larger boxes, and 51 in the smaller; note that these boxes also varied in thickness. The ‘dry fly’ details are self-explanatory and the boxes numbers 6, 7 & 8 are the ‘pipe cleaner’ boxes, as many refer to them.
This included two additional clip boxes, 1A and 1B, both of the thinnest size. The 1A was for smaller salmon flies (singles rather than doubles), still with 40 clips, and the 1B with 70 clips.
The other two boxes were what Hardys called their ‘Kenya’ Neroda box, lined with soft rubber – a quite rare box to find in original condition.
Another variant is the relatively rare ‘Tube Fly Box’. (below)
These boxes continued to appear in Hardy’s Anglers’ Guides until 1963.
Below, a rare “Neroda Tube Fly Box”
The Hardy Logo as it normally appears on the boxes (very rarely these can be found blank – see below)
a larger size “Dry Fly” box – the ‘lids’ are usually a slightly yellowish/clear Perspex type material with upturned lips to open them with, or occasionally, with nickel silver studs.
Neroda boxes were produced in two different colours, which most collectors refer to as ‘Oxblood’ and Tortoiseshell’; the ‘Oxblood’ boxes have always been slightly more collectable.
|The two different colours - tortoiseshell and oxblood|
As well as these variations there are two types of hinge - brass and nickel silver, some with three screws per side and others with two.
Below, 2 excellent examples of the “Tube Fly Box”
A pair of rare Salmon Fly, 40 clip, boxes with "gold plated" clip plates.
There are a number of other small variations, but I don’t want to completely ruin another fun part of collecting which is the research.
As anyone who collects ‘Hardy’ equipment, whether it be reels, rods or anything else, will tell you that once you think you have it all figured out a new example will appear that contradicts all that you previously believed.
I would add that Hardy have recently re-introduced a new Neroda box to their range. They are produced in two versions, a green and a brown mottled ‘tortoiseshell’ pattern, distinguished from the older ones by a circular gold Hardy logo and lined with foam. This is a different animal to the one discussed above and, whilst it may become collectable in years to come, it is not within the scope of this article
© Brian Taylor, February 2010