Friday, October 23, 2009

Six Dozen Trout Flies

This piece of paper was more fun than I've had in a long time. As some of you may be aware, a couple of weeks ago I went paper shopping - locally. I came away from that little excursion with some pretty fine paper. One of those finds was a bill head for the Montana Candy Company, also known as Webster & Koontz. They were one of the first confectioners in Montana - and I should add here - Montana Territory, for when the paper was dated, Montana was not yet a state.

This piece is also very unique. It also is a piece of territorial paper, and it also was a billhead from the Parchen Drug Company of Helena. I'm certain that there are interior views of this business, and unlike Webster & Koontz, Parchen Drug did publish an address.

The note is of particular interest. It says: "We send the largest we have (the word at is crossed out) can (the word get is crossed out) be had in Town". Apparently J. H. McKnight & Company at Forth Shaw, M.T., had BIG fish in mind...

Fort Shaw was known as the "Queen of the Montana Posts". It sat near the Sun River, about twenty-five miles West of the present city of Great Falls, where the Sun River entered the Missouri. There was an Indian Trading Post there run by J. H. Mcknight, as well as a Saloon. Of course, there was also a regiment of soldiers garrisoned at the Fort. The fort was abandoned in 1890, and an Indian School at Fort Shaw became world famous in 1904. An all-Indian Girls Basketball Team from the school became World Champions at the St. Louis Exposition.

I really am torn about this piece. Part of me wants to keep it for I'll probably never see another piece of paper quite like this - a bill for six dozen trout flies, but - I know there will be other paper just as unique as this one is.


  1. You couldn't ask for anything with more history associated with it. And it makes interesting reading. I like the flies too. They look great. I would be proud as punch of this post.

  2. I agree, great historical interest with the piece. It's hard sometimes to let go of some pieces isn't it because of some connection we have with it. I find that too.

  3. Dave - you've done it again. How did I miss your last post, too? I love your story about first day issues and your envelopes selling out in the queue! I had a similar experience the other day when I was posting off my mail art - I was asked for a print. Luckily I had my business card on me!
    PS. I still owe you some mail art - my jobs have been banking up, you're next on the list!

  4. Hi Dave,

    Nice to meet you. Thank you for stopping by.
    That is an interesting piece of history you have right there. I think I would keep it.
    Love your blog- I need to do some exploring.

    Isn't it great how we connect (I thought I would just posting some of my favorite postcards, etc.).

  5. Since researching period-appropriate material is your forte, I have to ask: Is there such a thing as period-appropriate fishing flies? Where did you get the names and shapes? They are beautiful! Penny

  6. Penny - I'll answer it here for others may be curious as well: Yes - I had to verify that fly patterns and names were appropriate for 1878. Matter of fact, the Quack Coachman was first tied in 1878 and named for the gentleman who was responsible for developing the pattern - L. Q. Quackenbush.

    Terri has a book which belonged to her great uncle Roy Crowe, who came from England in the early 1900's. The little book contained no images but had written descriptions. I used the ones he had marked (I wanted flies that would at least work in Montana) and did some research on each to make certain they were appropriate for the time as well as the place. The Parmachene Belle is a 'wet' fly, but specifically tied for the Brook Trout. Red & White are especially attractive to trout for some reason and this fly does not imitate any known insect.