The Story

The presentation of this collection is possible, because of Stuart Hardy’s admirable efforts to find and purchase anything that originally belonged to it. Many people have shown support by returning items they knew, came from this collection. We respect that not everybody decided to return items in their possession. If you are one of the latter, we kindly ask you to provide us with proper photographs, that we may add to the images in this gallery, so that at least a visual representation of the collection, as complete as possible, can be preserved for study and reference, by us and future generations.

Stuart Hardy will attend shows with this collection. Please follow him on Facebook for more information. Stuart’s Facebook group is Vintage Fly Tying. Click here for a link



Stuart Hardy motivates the evidence that combined, provides provenance for the authenticity of this wonderful collection, in a letter. Read it here:


The Story: Three Mis-identified Treasure Chests

A few years back, there was an auction of a load of stuff from what was essentially George M. Kelson’s mistress’ estate. The auction catalogue listed several items that had been properly identified and belonged to Kelson. All of them went for a lot of money, and are lost to us forever. But there were three boxes that hadn’t been identified as part of the estate. They were badly photographed on the website, and it was this way, that a young guy, named Andrew Bowen, obtained one of the most intriguing material collections of our time, for just over £4k.

The three original chests, back together...

The three original chests, reunited. …

According to eye witnesses, all three boxes were originally stuffed with materials, and contained about six Indian Crow necks, a dozen Toucan skins, two Flamed Bowerbird skins (no Black Faced Bowerbird), as well as a load of Arabian Bustard.

We all know what Toucan, Indian Crow, Arabian Bustard and even Flamed Bowerbird looks like. Most of the time we are asking each other questions about the colour of a certain hackle. There are 12 shades of puce. Which one did Kelson use? With the exotic materials missing, it is exactly this kind of question that the remainder of this collection can answer. There is a wealth of prime quality material, all sorted after category and colour. Either bundled or stashed in a container. George M. Kelson was a man of rare discipline and order.