Fishing and shooting: Fishermen are suckers for new gadgets

You won't believe this. But there again you might. I have just managed to sell an empty 5in x 5in x 4in cardboard box on eBay for £50. From the price you will have swiftly divined that this is no ordinary box.

It is a Hardy Bros cardboard box which once contained a reel, although what size or sort we have no idea. But anything with the name Hardy on it sends fishing tackle aficionados and collectors completely gaga.

Hardy of Alnwick in Northumberland made the best reels and rods in the world for probably 100 years. They would probably say they still do, but there is serious competition out there these days.

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The Japanese make rods and reels every bit as good, if without the cachet. (Daiwa make their rods in Wishaw.)

Hardy was the Rolls Royce of reel makers and examples are consequently highly collectable, but even better still entirely useable.

I have a Hardy Perfect 4" reel which is probably worth 350, judging from prices on eBay, made in about 1925 which is as good as the day the "legendary" Jimmy Smith the Hardy reel maker turned it out on his lathe. We know it is a Jimmy Smith because it has the letters JS stamped in it.

But we have no idea who made the cardboard box. Not even Hardy went to the extent of classifying their cardboard boxes. But Hardy anoraks will know exactly when the box was produced or between which years because it bears the crests of three royals: George V, the Prince of Wales who would have become Edward VIII had he not jacked it all in for Mrs S (the swine), the King of Italy and "HM King Alfonso".

Now I happen to know without looking it up that Alfonso was King of Spain because he honeymooned at Wardhouse in Aberdeenshire, then owned by yet another branch of the Gordon family who had quite sensibly taken off in the 1800s for Jerez to make sherry and a fortune. (They used to come home in the summer to entertain royals, play cricket and hold bull fights in the cattle court.)

So that's what is on the cardboard box: four regal logos and Hardy's moniker, for which Nigel from Liverpool has parted with 50 plus postage. Unfortunately the box is not mine. I am selling it, as they say on eBay, "for a friend", which always sounds like complete tosh. Why would you bother to even say you are selling it for a friend except in the belief that a million bidders will jump to the irrational conclusion it must be a bargain worth millions? "Ooh look, he says this old box belongs to a friend so he doesn't know anything about it. Let's bid 500". Well please do. Fishermen have always been suckers for new gadgets, designs and paraphernalia. Reels, rods, flies – and now even cardboard boxes – have caught more fishermen than fish down the centuries.Email [email protected]

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• This article was first published in The Scotsman Magazine, April 17, 2010