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Shakespeare Company Stockholder Ledger

 Item — Box: 1 of 1
Identifier: RH-A-4322

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised of a common stockholder ledger from the Shakespeare Company of Kalamazoo, MI. The majority of the dates in the ledger are from between 1909 and 1940’s. Red-cover ledger binder of the Shakespeare Company of Kalamazoo includes shareholders L-Z.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1909-1940s


Biographical / Historical

The Shakespeare Company of Kalamazoo was founded in Kalamazoo in 1897 by William Shakespeare Jr. (1869 – 1950). The company headquarters was located at 419 Pitcher in 1913 and moved to 241 E. Kalamazoo Avenue in 1939. The company made its name by producing fishing equipment including reels, rods, lines, and bait. Shakespeare Jr. is also noted as the inventor of the level-winding reel, also called the “Wonderreel,” which made the retrieval and rewinding of a casted fishing line simpler and faster. Along with fishing equipment, the company sold outdoors equipment including clothing, fishing guides, and archery materials. Following the First World War, a subsidiary called Shakespeare’s Products was created to manufacture automotive and airplane parts, which would be used by the US military throughout World War II.

In 1970, the headquarters of the Shakespeare Company was moved from Kalamazoo to Columbia, SC. In 1981, Speareflex Inc. purchased a portion of the Shakespeare Co. assets held by the California outdoors outfitters called Anthony Industries and reopened manufacturing in Kalamazoo, thought the operation was abandoned in 1989. Aspects of the Shakespeare Company would later merge with Pure Fishing Inc. in 2007. The company continues to produce fishing equipment, especially for children and people new to fishing.


.1 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was found in storage area of a Kalamazoo law office and deposited at the Zhang Legacy Collection Center.

Physical Description

The collection amounts to 0.1 cubic feet and is comprised of a red leather ring binder measured at 10” x 8” x 2 in.” The binder was created by Prentice-Hall in 1926, a New York based company that offers services on tax and inheritance materials. The binder consists of over 200 yellow, 3-hole-punched pages (recto) in alphabetical order by the last name of the client, from “L” to “Z.” The binder is slightly worn on the seams of the cover and along the spine. The labels on the front cover and along the spine of the binder show yellowing and have torn in certain parts.

The pages have yellowed over time but have largely been well maintained, save some sparse spotting around the edges. The pages have a lined-grid design featuring the certificate number, date issued, number of shares, amount, and balance. The names, addresses, and the account numbers of each entry were written with a typewriter. Common stock purchases are shown in black ink and stock sales in red ink throughout the ledger. While the typed writing has faded, the ink markings are perfectly legible. Changes in the par value of the stock are represented with a pink stamp between the stock purchases and sales. Each page ends with “closed” in the amount column, indicating a closed account.

Shakespeare Company Stockholder Ledger finding aid
Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490