Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Collect Shakespeare Bows?

Why do I collect Shakespeare Archery? 
  • After all, there are many archery companies that outlasted Shakespeare Archery. 
  • There are many that were founded long before Shakespeare. 
  • There were many that have more collector interest.
  • There are many archery producers that made more lasting technological contributions, so why this interest in Shakespeare? 

 Why Collect Shakespeare Bows?
I was a child during the late 1950s and early 1960. My summers were spent in the woods, making my own bow and arrows and chasing imaginary villains with my “lethal weapons” My parents sent me off to camp and I soon found I had a knack for archery. I had always struggles with school so for me the recognition of my abilities with the bow helped my self-esteem immensely. Summer school camp was books in the morning, fishing, canoeing and bows in the afternoon. I was handed a solid fiberglass bow and was told to shoot. I noticed the name “Shakespeare” and remembered something about a story of how archers helped win the crown of England. I struggled with school but I was a bright kid. “Shoot the bow kid!” was the order barked at me. I shot and hit the target dead center. “Luck” was the barked reply. I repeated the shot exactly and the barking stopped. Later that summer I won my first trophy in an archery competition. It was my first feeling of achievement and self-worth. Archery would remain an important part of my life.

During my adolescent years archery remained on the outskirts.  I finished art school and began my life as a starving artist. I learned to make bows again and started to literally put food on the table with them. After years of hard work I was hired to my dream job of teaching art in Alaska. My love of archery was fully reawakened again. I made long bow, recurves and a few native style bows. I shot in competitions and amassed a small collection of trophies and metals.  I collected and refurbished vintage bow but Shakespeare never crossed my path again until one long late fall moose hunt. It was cold as it often is in Alaska. I had been working a ridge near a slough that had lots of moose sign. It was late and I was drained. I decided to headout before I lost the light. As I crisscrossed my trail I spotted a glint of white near a large spruce stand. Upon close inspection I realized it was a very old moose kill, there was a remnant of a skull with the antlers removed.  That was when I noticed Shakespeare. He was resting against a tree exactly where he had been placed forty or more years earlier. The hunter had placed the bow there while he field dressed his moose and while he made several trips to pack the meat. In his exhaustion he left his bow and it stood there for decades unmoved, waiting. It was aged and cracked from the relentless cold of Alaska’s winters. Proudly the name of Shakespeare emerged from the mold and grime. It was a Parabow and its draw weight was readable at 55# enough power for a well-placed wooden arrow to take down a moose. I never got my moose that year but I did have that bow. I knew it could never be shot again but it became my first Shakespeare bow.

 I lost the bow years later in a car break-in; I lost that bow and several others that I stupidly left in my car. But that Shakespeare fiberglass bow was special. It stood unyielding for decades, waiting me to come along. I started collecting again a few years ago and soon found a rekindled love for the Shakespeare bow I had known as a child. So when I hear “Why collect Shakespeare?, they aren’t worth much are they?” 
I shake my head and chuckle because I know that they are priceless. 
Chris Libby's wonderful article on Fiberglass Bows.
Early 1960s Shakespeare Parabows

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shakespeare Wonderbow THE MANCOS model x40.

One of Shakespeares Last Bows?

Like all of the Wonderbows, this one was named after a wilderness region. Mancos is a Spanish word meaning "one armed or one handed, crippled". The name Mancos refers to the crippled condition of the Spanish explorers' horses after they crossed the San Juan Mountains. Mancos Region was once a large National Forest but is now a complex of Nature Preserves -Mancos State Park, Montezuma National Forest and Juan National Forest in Southwestern Colorado and is a magnet for the year-round outdoor enthusiast.

Initially a 58" bow, it was a cheaper version of The Necedah x28 and The Cascade x29 with no tip overlays, and a slightly different riser shape. The riser appears to be a mahogany or cherry. It is a surprisingly well designed bow, and was intended as entry level bow for the bow-hunter. Introduced in 1975, it never became popular because it was marketed at the dawn of the compound bow and it was one of the last models produced by Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a multifaceted Cooperation and the company closed its archery line in 1976 when it was obvious that archery would be dominated by the compound bow.

There is very little information available about this bow. Most information can be found on auction sites and blogs. It appears that a 54” AMO version was also introduced with Olive green limbs, the date uncertain possibly 1976, it seems to be a scarce model and it could be one of the last bows made by Shakespeare.

MANCOS Model x40
AMO 58” & 54” AMO (scarce variety)
Brace height -8 ¾”.
Weights #40 #45, #50,  #55
Limbs 1 5/8 wide
Shooting window 5 ¼ inch
Black Glass. Green Glass (scarce variety)
Arrow speed-12 shots average, 410 grain arrow, 55# bow 176.18 FPS

I own a handsome Mancos Black Glass 58 AMO #55, I have noticed the price on this bow has increased in auctions lately; I paid doubled what I expected but the bidding is getting higher than it was just a year ago. ( Hunger Games affect?) I have found this bow to be extremely easy to shoot, with very little hand shock and no stacking at 28”.  It is accurate and hard hitting. I enjoy this bow very much and would recommend it to the novice or expert.

My 55# Mancos

October 4th 2012: Today I came home to find my Mancos bow had arrived. It is in excellent condition but needs a little work. I open the mail and discovered that my Mancos Ad had also arrived....a happy coincidence!!!
1975 Mancos Ad
Green Glass variety

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Shakespeare Catalog May 1969

  • 1966 -69 AMO 56 inch, 1970 AMO 58inch , 1971 -56 inch
  • Weights 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60
  • Handle –Benge or Seduha and Zebrawood
  • Tips- Benge and Zebrawood
  • Semi pistol grip
  • Limbs- 2 inch wide, Black glass 1966, after 1967 – 1970 Dark Olive Green,  Black with white glass laminate 1971
  • Brace Height 8 inch
  • sight window -4inch
  • Arrow speed- 12 shots average, 410 grain arrow, 55# bow- 182.80 FPS

Like many of Shakespeare Wonderbows, this bow is named after a national forest; Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. The word Kaibab is a native word meaning “the mountain that lies down” referring to the Kaibab Plateau.

Root Brush Master, Game Master, and Warrior Ad

In 1964 Shakespeare bows started to look similar to the Root Archery. Ernie Root sold several designs to Shakespeare and they modified them and renamed them. Root Brush Master became Shakespeare Kaibab; Root Game Master became Shakespeare Ocala. Shakespeare finally bought Root in 1967. Ernie Root continued to be an important influence in Shakespeare bow design. The first bows after the sale bore the name "Root, by Shakespeare". Shortly thereafter Ernie Root went to work for Shakespeare, and the Root name was dropped completely. This bow is a perfect example of Ernie Root design. In the early 1960’s Root produced the Root Brush Master. The Brush Master had black glass, and the risers were laminated Zebrawood and Seduha. Shakespeare bought Root Archery in 1967 and Ernie was their chief bow designer. The Kaibab is nearly identical to the Brush Master except for slight riser modifications. From 1967 – 1970, The Kaibab was 58 inch long and had dark green glass. After 1971 it appears that Shakespeare was offering lengths of 56 and 58 inch in either dark Green or Black glass and did make custom bows over 60 lbs. The Kaibab was considered a high end quality bow like the Ocala and was Bear Archery’s primary competitor.

My Kaibab x27, 58inch AMO, 55#

I love this bow!! My bow is 55# and it is a silent, level, forgiving, beautiful, extremely fast and a deadly accurate shooter. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

“The Necedah Wonderbows- Model X26, X28, X31”

Shakespeare Catalog May 1969

“The Necedah Wonderbows”
Before the Necedah X26 there was the Model X26-55
Shakespeare Archery partnered with Ernie Root in the early 1960. Shakespeare's first bows were the 1959-60 Model 100-600 bows. In 1961-64 Shakespeare introduced the Wonderbow. The Wonderbow came with a Model number and an "X" designation. In 1963 the Model X26-55 was introduced. It was nearly identical to the Root Warrior and it was 55 inch from nock to nock. In 1964 the first of the renamed bows was introduced. The X26-55 was renamed The Necedah X26 and it was virtually the same bow as the Model x25-55
“The Necedah” is one of Shakespeare Archery’s most famous and popular Wonderbow Models. It was the first Wonderbow to be named after a famous hunting area,  Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. This bow is a sweet shooter and was a strong competitor with Bear Archery. Its design shows the obvious Ernie Root influences and resembles the Root Warrior Model

 “The Necedah” is unique because there are several varieties which can be confusing to the novice or experienced collector. The Necedah was my first Shakespeare bow. I bought mine on eBay and luckily the seller misspelled both “Shakespeare” and “Recurve”, so I bought the bow for under $50. I own Bear bows and assumed that all other vintage bows were inferior to the Bear, so I wasn’t expecting too much. However I was pleasantly surprise at the beauty and craftsmanship of the bow. I was astounded when I shot it, it was smooth shooting and consistent. I was hooked!!!
I began researching my bow and found Five varieties. The x-26 and x 28- both of these bows have brown fiberglass and came in weights 40, 45, 50 and 55 lbs
Later I found a third and fourth variety of the X28.I also discovered a fifth X31 which seems to be a precursor to the Super Necedah. I am excluding the Super Necedah from this discussion because most collectors consider it a separate model.
Ernie Root's Bush Master Game Master and Warrior 1966 Ad

My bow is a 1964 55”AMO Necedah x26 @50lb.It is unusual because it has "X-25 55" under the Wonderbow logo.

my scarce 1964 X26-55 lefty
my X-26 58 inch, note the different logo. This logo was used 1969 or later
Necedah X26, 1964-65 55 inch 1966-1973 58 inch
Necedah X 28, 1974, 58 inches
Necedah x 31 1975-76? 58 inches
  • Recurve
  • Weights 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 lbs
  • Cinnamon Brown or Forest green fiberglass
  • Handle Imbuya Wood or Wonderwood (specially impregnated hardwood)
  • Sight window 4 1/2 inches 
  • Brace height 7 3/4
  • 2 inch wide limb
  • Imbuya or Wonderwood tip overlay
  • arrow speed 12 shots avg. 410 grain arrow- 50 lb. Necedah 55” -187.74 FPS, 45 lb. Necedah 58"- 184.66 FPS  

X26 Necedah: 1964-70 –ish *
These 55” AMO X26 bows were produced approximately from 1964-66. It has handsome cinnamon brown fiberglass with exotic Imbuya wood riser. What is confusing about this x26 model is there are two different bow lengths 55” and 58”. I can’t find out anything about this dual size discrepancy. I bought a fantastic book hoping to find an answer:  Vintage Bows - I; An Introduction to Choosing, Shooting and Collecting by Rick Rappe, I contacted Mr. Rappe and he was also confounded and offered the suggestion that perhaps the 58” was made later and helped  to usher in the next Model.
Lavi Niv's nice X26 Green Glass

X28 Necedah: 1967 – 1971-ish*
Necedah Model X-28 dates from approximately 1967 – 1971. Like the x-26, it has handsome cinnamon brown fiberglass Imbuya wood riser. It differs in length at 58” and there are also slight modifications to the riser. Since it was in production longer it is more common than the x26. I need one for my collection! 

1972 -1973*
The Third Variety is the Green Limb version. 1972-73 Shakespeare started to produce the Necedah x28 58” with an attractive Forest Green Fiber glass and Imbuya (brown wood).

Lewis Kent's beautiful Wonderwood X28 with stabilizer

1973 -1975*
In 1972 Bear Archery introduced a hardwood riser impregnated with a greenish stain. Not to be outdone by Bear, Shakespeare offers its fourth variety of the Necedah - a green stained green limbed recurve bow. The green wood was called “Wonderwood”. This X28 58” with Forest Green fiberglass and Green Wonderwood was produced in 1973-1975 (?) and is one of the least common. 

X - 31 dates unknown (probably 1975-76)
This variety is unusual. It is similar to both the Necedah X 28 and Super Necedah. It is 58" AMO and has green glass.  It uses Green Wonderwood in the riser but it also has multi-lamination, rare for a Shakespeare Bow. I don't own this bow yet so my descriptions are based on two examples which I found online. The photo below (top row) shows it's profile next to a Super Necedah.

Necedah x-31
thanks to 
Lavi Niv
guyver of Archerytalk forum for top two photos
eBay's adamash310 for bottom two photos.

November December 1965
pp 48-51
written by Jim Dougherty

November 1965 Ad
 This 1965 ad is a very early Necedah. It is a 55" inch bow and it is $49.95, by 1969 it was $69.99- that's high inflation!

*Information of the Necedah is sketchy especially in regards to the 58” X-26 and X-31, the dates are unclear. Anyone with additional information PLEASE comment.