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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:13 am • #  
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Hello, I published this article in October 2008 that may help:

Image

The Mitchell Browning Years

The following information comes from documented studies I've done, JP Gumprich and Doug DeSimone both of which were there and highly involved! Another very high source is involved which will be revealed when the Mitchell history is posted on our Museum website. The following comes after the "30 glorious years" of Mitchell. This is not a complete chapter but it will help us understand why so little is known and/or misunderstood about this time…

The 1978 to 1985 "dark years" started in 1977 when Garcia US sold Mitchell back to Carpano & Pons, the original owners of Mitchell, and then went bankrupt in 1978. This forced Mitchell to find another distributor that could fill Garcia's very big shoes. I refer to these as the Dark Years only because very little is known about what happened between 1978 and 1984.

During the complex bankruptcy proceeding, in 1978 Browning met with Mitchell at the Garcia offices in Teaneck, NJ along with a lot of other interested tackle companies including Zebco and eventually "won" the distribution rights. Garcia Canada still existed not being a part of Garcia, USA, and tried to take over but due to close family ties was not allowed by the bankruptcy courts. Garcia USA owners also had another company called Garcia Tackle but again was not allowed by the courts.

Browning actually did very good (blue boxes after the old stock was depleted) and even "re-invented" the Garcia 440 calling it the Mitchell 440A Lightning Cast. Browning's desire was to reestablish Mitchell reels as the leader in quality but due to the tremendous loss of Garcia's perfected marketing skills and pipeline, and to rising manufacturing / export costs; this was a very difficult chore!

These problems and many other factors eventually led to Mitchell's bankruptcy in 1981. Two major players then competed for buying Mitchell. The "winner" as elected by the French courts was Philipe Blime who had already been hired by Carpano & Pons to run Mitchell the year before. The other was Impecco, France, the long time exporter for Mitchell. Though Impecco was far more qualified, it was awarded to Mr. Blime due to a possible "conflict of interest" between the Mitchell assets and Impecco's long-lasting ties.

That was a big mistake as even admitted by the French court judge soon after. Impecco had already suffered a large financial loss from Garcia's bankruptcy. Now, shortly after Mitchell's bankruptcy that caused another financial loss for Impecco, Mr. Blime started Mitchell Sports to eventually become the sole distributor of Mitchell.

This and again many other factors now led to the downfall of Impecco, another well-known and established French company. Naturally, this also led to the closing of Impecco, USA, and Mitchell's exclusive importer. Many good men and companies suffered and fortunes were lost. I will say as a personal note, the main reason information is so hard to find on these years is because those companies and men were deeply hurt. Blame was thrown around to all the main players. Great friendships were lost! Mostly the citizens of the town of Cluses, France the birthplace of Mitchell suffered. It is very hard to find a lot of "good" that happened between 1978 and 1984.

When Mitchell Sports took total control of Mitchell in September 1984, for numerous reasons to be disclosed in another blog, there was a surge and Mitchell finally appeared to be on a rebound. Most know this is during the time of such reels like to PRO line, the "S" series, the 400G and so forth. Unfortunately it turned out too late. The France assembly plant closed in 1988 and though a few good reels like the Mitchell 300 PRO 45th anniversary reel were still assembled in France, most parts were sent to Taiwan for assembly. That's the very short story on both the dark years and even shorter on what happened after.

FYI: The Browning "Buck Mark" and "Logo Type" was first established in 1977 and soon changed in 1978 during the same time as their talks with Mitchell. Does anyone besides me think this is not just a coincidence?

If you have any more information on this topic, please feel free to join in with your information or constructive criticism Image

Best Regards,
Wallace Carney

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:40 am • #  
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Hi,

Very interesting, I have not done any research on Browning-Mitchell, but is it also related to Belgium in a way...

In 1977, FN (Fabrique National from Belgium, translates into National Factory) acquired the Browning Arms Company.
Since the early years there was always a close connection between Browning and FN, John Browning (°1855 - +1926) designed the guns and FN produced them.

The Browning spinning reels (not Mitchell) did quite well here in Belgium for some time (probably due to it's link with FN)
I do not know how the Browning Arms Company was/is related to their fishing-tackle company, or is it the same...

I do remember some Browning catalogs from the 1980's showing fishing tackle (not Mitchell).

They stopped with Mitchell but must have decided to continue with fishing tackle from other manufacturing company (Japan/Taiwan/... ?)  ?

Jean-Paul


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:38 am • #  
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Hi Jean-Paul,

Thank you for that information and like you, I have not researched Browning history except within their short involvement with Mitchell. I was hoping when I posted this, others would join in and contribute. To help anyone interested; here are the only Browning-Mitchell catalogs I have ever found:

ImageImage
ImageImage

Besides Mitchell reel advertisements;

the 1981 also shows rods and within the pages it is written "Canadian customers please note: Mitchell reels are not distributed in Canada by Browning Canada Sports LTD. They are distributed by an independent firm in Canada. Please check with your local sporting goods outlet." This helps confirm Garcia Tackle Canada was still in operation.

the 1982 also shows rods and a Browning fillet knife with the same note to Canadians.

the 1983, the rarest of all, still shows the rods and a new Fishing Float Tube (I want one of these!). The note to Canadians is still there.

the 1984, the most common, still has rods and the Float Tube but now offer a variety of knifes, creels, travel pack rods, and they appear to be getting into selling hats, tackle boxes, nets and maybe even lures. The note to Canadian is no longer there!

Since the first three were hard to date, I had to do a spreadsheet on each Mitchell being advertised in each catalog. I know the 1981 and 1984 were correct and there was some question as to the middle two. This solved the problem:

MODEL YEAR YEAR YEAR YEAR
204S 1981 1982 na na
206S 1981 1982 na na
207S 1981 1982 na na
208S 1981 1982 na na
209S 1981 1982 na na
218S 1981 1982 na na
219S 1981 1982 na na
300A 1981 1982 1983 1984
301A 1981 1982 1983 1984
300S na na 1983 1984
301S na na 1983 1984
306A 1981 1982 1983 1984
307A 1981 1982 1983 1984
306S na na 1983 1984
307S na na 1983 1984
308A 1981 1982 1983 1984
309A 1981 1982 1983 1984
308S na na 1983 1984
309S na na 1983 1984
440A 1981 1982 na na
441A 1981 1982 na na
440A LC na na 1983 na
441A LC na na 1983 na
488 1981 1982 1983 1984
496 1981 1982 1983 1984
600 1981 1982 1983 na
602 1981 1982 1983 na
622 1981 1982 1983 na
624 1981 1982 1983 na
710 1981 1982 1983 1984
720 1981 1982 1983 1984
754 1981 1982 1983 1984
758 1981 1982 1983 1984
900 1981 na na na
901 1981 na na na
906 1981 na na na
907 1981 na na na
908 1981 na na na
909 1981 na na na
2210RD na na 1983 1984
2230RD na na 1983 1984
2250RD na na 1983 1984
2310RD na na na 1984
2330RD na na na 1984
3310 1981 na na na
3310Z na 1982 1983 na
3330 1981 na na na
3330Z na 1982 1983 na
3350Z na 1982 1983 na
3360 1981 na na na
3390 1981 na na na
3510RD na na na 1984
3530RD na na na 1984
3550RD na na na 1984
4410 1981 na na na
4410Z na 1982 1983 na
4420 1981 na na na
4430 1981 na na na
4430Z na 1982 1983 na
4450 1981 na na na
4450Z na 1982 1983 na
4470 1981 na na na
4470Z na 1982 1983 na
5540RD na na na 1984
6630 na na na 1984
7730 1981 1982 1983 1984
7750 1981 1982 1983 1984

This tells us many things about these "dark years" but to me the most interesting is the Mitchell 440A Lightning Cast evolved and then quickly went away. No wonder the first version is so hard to find!

Cool Stuff!
Wallace

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:16 pm • #  
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      Wallace,
Very interesting thread. I searched my catalogs and came up with these two. No pictures right now but I'll describe them.
1) 1979 Mitchell Parts and Service "booklet" with retail prices and part numbers pages 29-39. Printed on the bottom of the back page reads Distributed by BROWNING and their address and phone number. Leftward facing deer siloutte in front of BROWNING. Front page black & white skirted spool Mitchell reel. Inside are all the reels they sell with breakdowns and part numbers. Only MITCHELL and reel model.

2) 1980 Mitchell Reel Parts Price List. Effective September 1, 1980. Back cover printed as: BROWNING  thick line then  MITCHELL under line. Address but no phone number. Same deer in front of BROWNING. Front cover is green and white with large-mouth bass pointing upward to the right. another bass in background. BROWNING with deer in front lower front of cover. Inside cover gives breakdown of Mitchell authorized service centers including Hawaii and Alaska. Same type schematics but with prices next to parts breakdown.

Hope this helps.................
      Kim

Mitchell Fan Forever


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:51 am • #  
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Here are some Browning catalogs that were distributed in Belgium, but they are
all post-Mitchell unfortunataly...
Jean-PaulImage




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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:06 am • #  
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Hi Kim,

Sorry for the delay, it took me some time to find the Browning service and/or the retail and wholesale catalogs I have. I am missing both of the ones you are talking about so; are they for sale or rent [img]../../domain/bypass/images/wink02.gif[/img]

Hi Jean-Paul,

Thanks for sharing those catalogs. From these comes many questions but it appears Browning expanded their distribution after their relationship with Mitchell ended. Can you tell us what reels if any they were selling?

Regards, Wallace

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:31 pm • #  
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The catalogs on the picture are now with a friend, but I will have them sometime this week, will let you know
anout the reels as soon as I have the details.  One of the catalogs only contains fishing rods (specific European fishing poles
for competion angling)
Jean-Paul


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:45 pm • #  
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Thank you. I found the parts price list catalog with schematics dated September 1, 1980 and I think this was just Browning trying to take over reel service from Garcia. This was in with my service after sales (SAV) catalogs. I still can't find anything earlier...

Regards, Wallace

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:53 pm • #  
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Hi guys:

Wallace, I have a 1980 Mitchell reel catalog that I'll post pictures of in the next couple of days.  It has a picture of a 4450 with a few lures on the front cover with "MITCHELL 80".  The back cover lists the U.S. distributor as Browning.  It's 18 pages including front and back cover and highlights the 4400 series reels.  Also shown are the 900 series, 200 series, "A" series, 440, 440 Match, 810, 486, 488, 496, 498, 700 series fly reels, and the 600 and 1000 series multipliers.  There are two pages of lures and a couple pages of accessories.

Best regards,

Wayne


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:25 am • #  
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Here are pictures of the front and back cover of that 1980 catalog that I mentioned.  Sorry for blur in back cover shot.

ImageImage
Regards,

Wayne


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:41 am • #  
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Hi Wayne,

Now I understand mate, I thought you had a 1980s Browning catalog. I have several Mitchell S.A. catalogs like this but I don't remember the one you show. Nice!

Best Regards, Wallace

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:53 pm • #  
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Hi Wallace:

Ah yes----I see.  You were looking for just the publications put out by Browning.  Sorry for the confusion as you are correct that my catalog is Mitchell and not Browning. 

Best regards,

Wayne


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:53 pm • #  
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Wallace Carney wrote:
Hi Kim,

Sorry for the delay, it took me some time to find the Browning service and/or the retail and wholesale catalogs I have. I am missing both of the ones you are talking about so; are they for sale or rent Image

Hi Jean-Paul,

Thanks for sharing those catalogs. From these comes many questions but it appears Browning expanded their distribution after their relationship with Mitchell ended. Can you tell us what reels if any they were selling?

Regards, Wallace
Hi,

Got the catalogs today.

As it seems they sold Shimano spinning reels in the first years after Mitchell
Later on they changed to their own brand name Browning spinning reels.

1) undated but pre-1986 catalog (bottom right on the picture)

French language / European sales by Browning - Fabrique National Herstal, city of Herstal, Belgium
Only shows SHIMANO spinning reels

2) 1986 catalog (bottom left)

Dutch language / Browning sales located city of Alleur, Belgium  
showing SHIMANO spinning reels + BROWNING spinning reels
1986 could be the first year that spinning reels with Browning brand name occur ?

The Browning spinning reels have the following model numbers :
510-517-525-525MPU-506-512
710-717-725-706-712

3) 1987 novelties flyer Dutch language (upper right)

Browning distributed in Belgium by Q-Bizz, city of Geel, Belgium

Only Browning spinning reels (no longer Shimano as it seems).
It's only a flyer so information is limited to the following about spinning reels :
- Series 400 exist of 4 models including a model 415
- Series 700 exist of 704-706-710-712-717-715-725MPU
- Series 500 exist of 506-510-512-517-525-525MPU (7th model ?)

4) 1989 catalog (dutch and french language - upper left on the picture)

Browning distributed in Belgium by Browning, city of Geel, Belgium

The following spinning reels :
- 700-series : 704-706-710-712-717-717MPU-717 BOAT MPU- 725-725MPU-725 BOAT MPU
- 800-series (high speed): 806-810-810 MATCH-812-812 CARP
- 500-series : 504-506-510-510 MATCH-512-517-517MPU-517 BOAT MPU-525-525MPU-525 BOAT MPU
- the new 4000-series : 4015-4006-4010-4012

That's it, if you need more information, just let me know
Jean-Paul


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:08 am • #  
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Hi Jean-Paul,

Thank you for filling in this missing data. It may help us understand why some believe Browning sold Mitchell reels outside America. It seems they broke off from Mitchell for reasons unknown and went into direct competition in the European, Asian and Australia markets for sure and probably many others. Very interesting...

Best Regards, Wallace

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