308 / 309 Prince
Mitchell 308 – 1959-1986 = 1,771,109 Units (probably includes the 308A Series)
Mitchell 309 – 1960-1986 = 169,238 Units (probably includes the 309A Series)
With the durable Planamatic gearing and a 5:1 gear ratio, this quality
Mitchell reel is still a very popular fishing reel. Originally released
in Europe as the 308 “Prince” in 1958; the easiest way to tell a first
version is the molded in FR”O”NCE on the housing just above the
anti-reverse lever as you can see. Although the first version 309 was
also being manufactured at the same time but you will not find any of
these with this molding on the housing so serial numbers are very
important on these 1st version LH models.. Note the round slotted lock
nut under the spool, only found on very early 1st versions! These soon
changed to the standard hex nut as you can see on later models below.
Also know all first version came with spring loaded handles and not the
screw locking counterweights on the handle shaft!
SN 0008102: From the collection
of Rob Shimko, an avid Mitchell collector and Mitchell Mate is a fine
example of a Garcia distributed 1st version Mitchell 308 prior to
"Garcia" being engraved. Garcia referred to these as the "Ultra-Sport"
also called an "Ultra-Light" with a weight of only 7 ounces. The very
early serial number and packaging dates this reel back to the late
SN 037061: This is another Garcia
release but now had their name engraved. This came in a matching serial
number box and note the lock nut is still the round slotted. Please
note that none of these models distributed by Garcia will have the
Prince sticker, even prior to the Garcia name being engraved.
SN 0087416: As you can see on
this European 1st version these will have a Cover Plate with a “Prince”
sticker but naturally no Garcia engraving. The same sticker is on the
309 but always inverted for some unknown reason.
SN 269297: The easiest way to tell a second version is "France" is now
molded on the foot next to the serial number stamp. Early releases will
still have the spring loaded handle but did change to the locking type
in 1967. From the serial number and packaging on this reel, it was
released in the early sixties but not prior to 1962.
SN E087101: Another Garcia
release but remember vendor names whether engraved or stickers on the
reels are not different versions, just advertising! The second versions
were also issued with no vendor name and with other vendor names
including Albatros, Arca and Balzer. from the serial number alone we
know this reel was made in 1975 however; the black and red plastic
clamshell box dates back to at least 1967. Prior the the mid-seventies
these boxes had serial numbers that matched to reel.
308 Mystery Reel: This
reel came to us as shown from a man who bought it in Canada.
Unfortunately it does not have a serial number but it is not
a parts "Franken-Reel" for many reasons. We know Mitchell did not place
numbers on very early "test" models they called "pilot" reels. The
"engraved" housing and rotating head
lettering is not the same as before or after. The Rotating Head silver
bands around the lettering is very similar to the Mitchell Browning
308A but they are NOT the same. It also has the polished aluminum spool
also seen on early releases of the 4th version. It is a common
conclusion between several Mitchell collectors that this was a test run
just prior to the double red band release. It is apparent this reel was
made in France in 1976/77. No ads or schematics have been located for
SN G270109 was
only discovered in November, 2009 in the collection of Wayne Fassbender who was kind enough to allow us to show this very rare reel.
This model was made in 1977 for the European market including the double silver band, the packaging
and the very rare gray spool. This was the first release with the
"badge" verses engraving marked Garcia Mitchell 308. It appears this model was made concurrently with the next
"double red band" version as seen below. This version came with a
common small capacity spare spool as you can see. No small capacity
gray spools are known to have been made. It is important to note that this
green insert box has also been discovered with the next version. Remembering Garcia
went out of business in America in 1978; we feel confident to say that
this created a mixture of these reels being sold worldwide.
SN G337341 & SN H030298: This
version is a Garcia (America) release conceived and in limited production
just prior to Garcia's bankruptcy in 1978. Easily distinguished by the
plastic "Garcia Mitchell 308" plate attached to the housing and the
double-red-bands on the rotating head. Other features include the
change in packaging, spool and handle all of which can easily be
changed. During this release you will find polished aluminum spools and
on early releases; a rare white spool. Other Mitchell Series Reels were
released with the double red band but had the letter "A" suffix after
the model number! Mitchell gradually changed over to spool arbors (one
shown in blue) without a spare spool. Some releases had both.
After Mitchell's factory closed
in the late eighties, a few reels were still made there by a few
workers. Most others were sent to other countries for assembly for two
reasons; cheap labor and competition. The one shown was made in Taiwan,
just for the record!
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