Capitol Fishing Tackle sign resurfaces better than ever
By Melinda Hsia
Special to amNewYork
The Capitol Fishing Tackle Co. has been around for more than a century and
boasts classic fishing rods among many beautiful antiques, but its most eye-catching piece is its brilliant red and green neon sign above its front door.
The sign had beamed above the tackle shop since 1941. But when the shop vacated its longtime home at the Hotel Chelsea on West 23rd Street in 2006 and moved to the Garment District, the sign went missing.
Just recently, it has been returned to its rightful place outside the shops new home following its first-ever refurbishing.
"I have a great love for it," said Richard Collins, the shops owner.The neon sign with its bold red capitol letters is unusual, because it is rare to find one for a tackle shop. According to Kevin Walsh, the editor of the Web site Forgotten NY, most neon signs in the city belong to liquor stores, bar, and diners. Other
well-known neon signs from the 1940s illuminate the storefronts of such
establishments as the Irish pub Dublin House on West 79th Street just off
Finding the right person to restore these glowing works of art is not easy.
After a harrowing experience with a larger sign company, Collins sent his neon sign to Paul Signs in Brooklyn. There, the sign was carefully disassembled part-by-part
and meticulously cleaned before being measured for new parts and put back
In 2006, Collins contemplated closing the tackle shop. The rent had tripled
since he purchased the company in 1974 but Collins wanted to continue the
legacy of family ownership that began 112 years ago. "I am the third generation in
the fishing tackle business," said Collins, 54, and his son whom he
describes as a fishing nut - will be the fourth.
After a year and a half of detailed work, the sign is not ready to light up the
street just yet. A few pieces are undergoing finishing touches before the
neon sign can relive its former glory but its owner eagerly awaits.
"I could have two new signs for how much that one cost me to restore," Collins said.