When his brother John James Hardy (1854-1932), a passionate angler, joined the firm they began specialising in fishing equipment.
John James became the most famous angler of his day and wrote books including Champion Professional Salmon and Trout Caster of Europe and had won more championship events than any other man in the British Empire by the time of his death.
Hardy is depicted in this full-length oil painting beside a gun cabinet, holding a fishing fly, with his faithful dog lying at his feet. It was painted by Edmond Hodgson Smart in 1907.
The portrait was displayed in his house in Alnmouth, Northumberland, until his death, when it was moved to the games room at Ravenslaw in Alnwick (the home of Laurence Robert ‘LR’ Hardy who had become joint managing director when William retired).
At the opening of Hardy’s new factory, Willowburn, in 1965 the portrait was displayed in the factory reception area where it remained until the opening of Hardy’s Fishing Tackle Museum and Complete Angler Shop.
Now the Hardy family descendants wish to sell the picture and have appointed auction house Mullock’s in Shropshire to offer it via private treaty. It has an estimate of £50,000.
Mullock’s Ben Jones said: “It truly is a piece of angling history with him being a co-founder of the famous brand Hardy brothers. There could be interest from the art world, as well as from angling buyers.”