Welcome to The Dickerson Site- UPDATED 6-5-2023 please see News & Updates section
Welcome to The Dickerson Site- UPDATED 6-5-2023 please see News & Updates section
The Dickerson Site retains a copy of Lyle Dickerson's rod production ledgers. The ledgers consist of two volumes. The first volume contains rods made from 1931-1943. The second volume covers rods made from 1946-1960. Dickerson unofficially retired in 1960 after his first wife passed away. He continued to make rods, and made quite a few, until he sold his rod shop to Thomas "Tim" Bedford in 1972. Dickerson did not keep records for rods made during the post-1960 period.
Upon request, The Dickerson Site will do it's best to provide ledger information on Dickerson rods owned by the person requesting the information. Not all Dickerson's rods can be located in the ledger. Generally, at a minimum, the rod must have the name of the person it was made for. It also helps if there is a year made on the rod, or better yet, both a name and a year. In rare cases I might be able to locate a rod in the ledger with just a year of production. This outcome would be reserved for less common models of which there were not more than one produced within the given year.
If you have a rod that you own and would like the ledger information for, please send an email to me at email@example.com. Please include your full name, rod model, and any other relevant information; name on rod and year made if available.
The Dickerson ledger has some limitations as a record source. Rather than being a ledger where finished rods were recorded, it's main purpose was as an order book. From a detailed study of the two ledger volumes, it appears that Dickerson entered the rod details when the rod was ordered rather than finished. This leads to some fundamental issues when trying to trace a particular rod's history since Dickerson rods are not serial numbered. Often times Dickerson would enter a description of what a particular customer wanted rather than what he actually ended up making. An example would be an entry such as this: 8 ft.. light action, in which case the model can only be assumed. Another scenario encountered is a rod entered as a basic model that was actually finished as a special version of that particular model. An example would be a rod entered as an 8014 but actually finished and marked as an 8014 Guide. This very scenario has occurred several times when I have attempted locate an 8014 Guide in the ledger only to find it was recorded as an 8014. Such nondescript entries also make performing an accurate count of how many of each rod model were made nearly impossible. This will be described in more detail in the next section.
A page from the Dickerson ledger showing an order from Ray Bergman with rods listed by size rather than model.
Often times a reference is made to the rod model count, using the ledger, that was published in the Dickerson book. Usually to illustrate a point of rarity for a certain Dickerson model. As discussed previously in the ledger section, Dickerson often did not record the finished model in the ledger. Frequently he would enter a rough description; length and action, which was based on what the customer conveyed to him for usage. Therefore, the counts in the Dickerson book should only be used as a rough estimate for the quantity of each model produced. An example illustrating this point using how a nine foot rod might be entered: 9ft. 2 pc, 9ft. light action, 9ft. streamer, 9ft. dry fly, etc. It is evident a rod entry like this could not be included in an accurate model count. It can be assumed that the count, as performed, would have disqualified a sizable portion of Dickerson's production recorded in the ledgers.
In the text that accompanies the Dickerson book rod count, the authors did mention that the count could be hampered by the fact that Dickerson might not have chosen the model designation until after the rod was completed. This point was only lightly touched on and is generally overlooked.
There is a second contributing factor to the rod model count's reliability issue. Dickerson did make a good number of rods in the 1960s after he closed his ledger. Most of the rods made during this period were two piece, seven to eight foot models. There were very few seven foot models made during the 1931-1960 period, roughly fourteen. From what has been observed on the secondary market over the past thirty years, it is likely that Dickerson made as many or more seven foot rods in the 1960s than he did in the preceding thirty years. As was mentioned previously, any rods from the 1960s were not recorded in the ledger and therefore could not be counted.
Number of each Dickerson model located
The attempt to locate then current owners of Dickerson rods for the Dickerson book rod count was a noble effort, however, the process of counting rods still in existence using this method is flawed. There are many individuals who are private about their tackle collection that would choose to remain silent if contacted, that is, if they could be located. Additionally, there are still Dickerson rods in attics and basements yet to be discovered, as well as previously unknown Dickerson rods still surfacing that have been in the same family for many years.
It should be restated, the book count showing the number of each rod model located is often referred to in order to infer rarity of a certain model. Giving consideration to what has been outlined here, use the count numbers as a rough guide when considering a Dickerson available for purchase.
The task of transcribing both volumes of Dickerson's ledgers into a spreadsheet was very time consuming. However, the benefits, which include the ability to quick search using model numbers, names, and years, have made the transcription exercise very worthwhile, especially the ease in which specific models can be located and counted . Once transcribed, the first task was to compare the Dickerson book's model count to what the data in the ledger showed.
Most of the model counts were off, some slightly, some greatly. One example would be the model 8614. The 8614 was a model that Dickerson advertised in his catalog, yet only two were shown in the Dickerson book ledger count. Surprisingly, I found twenty eight 8614s recorded in the ledger as being produced. What was perceived to be a rare model was actually produced in greater numbers than the well known 8615. I am not sure how the count discrepancies occurred, but I feel extremely confident in the reconciliation I performed. Dickerson's second most popular rod model in terms of quantity produced, the 901812, was made from the early 1930s all the way up into the mid 1950s. In the Dickerson book there are 74 shown as counted in the ledger. In actuality there are 147 listed in the ledger, roughly double what was previously counted for the book.
The last example combines two of the previously mentioned accuracy problems. Dickerson's model 8014 was very popular. Over 100 are recorded in the ledger. The fabulous model 8014 Guide was produced in smaller numbers. The Dickerson book lists nine 8014 Guide models made and nine located. There are actually only two 8014 Guides listed in the ledger. However, there are many more in existence than two or nine. An estimate based on the number that I have seen over the years would be would be closer to 30. While performing research in the ledger for current owners requesting information on 8014 Guides, I have found that most were originally entered as plain 8014s. The 8014 Guide is a distinct model and differs from a normal 8014. I do not know why the lack of a model designation in the ledger occurred so frequently with this particular model, other than the fact that Dickerson usually entered the rod when ordered rather than finished. It is also not known why Dickerson would not have updated the entry upon completion of the rod.
A page from the Dickerson ledger showing an order placed by Michigan Upper Peninsula tackle dealer, Earl Leitz. The entry illustrates Dickerson's use of rod type rather than model number at the time of order entry.