I'm not aware of a published history existing ... The Battenkill's do not usually attract the collectors as it's big brother the CFO does. That might be because Orvis never produced their own reels just marketed those made by others or maybe that the Battenkills are not as high profile and quality as the CFO. However, I have been collecting them for a few years and like their linage and determining the manufacturer. Howard and I have been talking alot about Orvis reels for a few years now as we accidentally stumbled into each other as I was repairing a rod for him. In the last year we have also posted a few times here:
I can tell you some of what I know about them. If you look at the photo the reels. The first produced was the J.W. Young Battenkill some time in the 1960's this reel is the exact reel as the J.W. Young Beaudex, with the exception of a silver spool with a different porting pattern. Then came the J.W. Young Battenkill Lightweight series from 1968-1972, Young never made an equivalent reel. This reel has become highly desirable in the last few years and prices have taken off. I think next came the Hardy Battenkill III (the roman numeral suffix will change with the reel size), this is the equivalent of the Hardy Viscount series of the same time, I'm guessing that this reel was offered some time in the mid-70's. We have posted about this reel and have found that during its run it was offered with two different click & pawl drag systems. Then came the Hardy Battenkill Mark III (again, the roman numeral indicated reel size) this was the equivalent of the Hardy Uniqua of the same period, but the Uniqua had an unported spool, some time in the 1980's. It shares a the same drag and the previous Battenkill III, but the Mark series as done away with the caged reel that the III has. From here BFR became the manufacturer for the Battenkill Disk 5/6 or Battenkill 5/6 (click and pawl) (and yet again the name will change with reel size) these reels do not have equivalents as I believe Orvis owned a large part of the company. They also went to produce the Battenkill BBS & the Battenkill Large Arbor before production shifted to China ... There is also the modern Battenkill Mid-Arbor which may have Pfleuger equivalent, but I'm not certain. I cannot take credit for all of this information as I gained most of it from communication on this Forum and a few other forums, I believe Bulldog probably most supplied the info on the Young made reels ... If anyone could help me nail down the dates for production, or correct me if I am mistaken, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Again a photo of the Battenkills:
Left to Right: Battenkill (Young), Battenkill Lightweight (Young), Battenkill III (Hardy), Battenkill Mark III (Hardy), Battenkill 5/6 (BFR - Click & Paw) Battenkill 5/6 Disc (BFR)
One of these days, I hope to take some more detailed photos of the reels innards and make them available ... we'll see.