Handmade Hooks, Unknown Maker
1. This is a wonderful, very old, hand made hook. I have conflicting information on this and the following four hooks regarding age. Estimates are 1650 to 1850 +-. They have been meticulously forged filed and formed into wonderful works of art. They were made before man figured out how to mass produce steel from iron. It was not easy nor fast to introduce carbon into steel back in that time so these hooks were very precious items even then. They are very rare and likely always were.
This hook is the most refined of the five hooks and the skill needed to make it was of the highest order. The time needed to make the steel, forge the wire and finally, shape the point, taper the wire and finish the hook was likely several days.
Also, the fact that the original binding remains on this hook is pretty remarkable. This hook is easily one of my favorite hooks to this point in my collecting. The hook is about 3 ¼” long with a gape of about 2 1/8”.
2. This and the next three hooks were part of the Ron Reinhold hook collection. They were given to him by Vos Guntzviller who found them in an old tobacco tin. I bought them from Ron Reinhold along with quite a few other hooks from Ron’s extensive hook collection.
These four hooks are not as refined as the one above but surly different hands at different times made all of them. One other difference is that the first one has what I’ll call an arrow head with opposing barbs. These four all have a more conventional point/barb configuration that are twisted 90 degrees to the wire of the hook.
This hook is forged and has file cut markings. The wire is, as I said, forged but towards the point the wire is round or nearly so. The hook is about 4 3/8” long with a gape of about 2 1/2”.
3. This hook was forged into a squareish shape for almost it’s full length. One end terminates in an eye with round wire. The other terminates in a pretty standard point/barb which is turned 90 degrees to the hook wire. The hook is about 4 1/8” long with a gape of about 2 1/2”
4. This hook is made of round wire it’s entire length that terminates in a flatted and file marked end and the point/barb twisted 90 degrees on the other end. The hook is about 4 3/8” long with a gape of about 2 1/2”.
5. This hook has square forged wire it’s whole length terminating in a marked end with filed grooves on the corners on one end and the point/barb turned 90 degrees on the other. This hook has filed gutters. The hook is about 4 1/2” long with a gape of about 2 3/8”.
The question I ask is if these four hooks were (and it is possible I suppose) made by the same person, why four completely different configurations? None of these would be easy to make and one would think that a person would just make the configuration that was most successful catching fish or the most popular. More unanswered old hook questions.
This fly I tied many years ago, well before I saw any of these hooks. It just dawned on me that the hook which I reformed from an old hook looks much like the above hooks. Not only is the shape somewhat the same but the size at 3” long is in there too. Just a coincidence.
6. An interesting hand made hook. This hook is about 8 7/8” long with a gape of bout 2 5/8”. The point is not cut but looks to have been folded back or possibly welded. In the side view of the point/barb, you can just see a space between the barb and shank. The barb has robust gutters and the point is almost conical but has the hint of a knife edge. The top edges of the gutters do not make a straight line as most do. This edge is removed from both sides so it doesn’t look like a grinding or filing mistake.
Moving to the eye, it has been formed around a rod while hot. At first, the eye looks normal, much like a machine made eye. I took three different shots of the eye to show how it was made. In one, you can see a substantial flat area on the inside of the bend. I have looked at a lot of eyes on large hooks and sometimes on machine made hooks, that surface can flatten out when the eye is bent but not near as much as this one. I believe this eye was formed hot. That would allow the now softer metal to flatten as it was bent against a harder rod. You can also see in two of the shots where there are hammer marks on the outside of the bends which also indicate that the metal was likely hot when bent.
Overall, this is a very well made hook, certainly intended to be fished. It appears unused however.
7. The wire on this hook has embossed on it around the eye, some letters that are gone then a partial what looks like a C then ANFSE BRONZE R. The hook is about 5 1.2” long with a gape of about 1 ¾”. The barb looks ,like it was bent back but there is no crack as in the hook above. I have other hooks with the odd configuration of the point/barb and even the Mustad Blackfish points are similar. Was this hook made to fish? Don’t know. Someone did spend a fair amount of time making it.
8. I don’t think these hooks are very old but they are hand made. They appear to be made of stainless. All are different and two of them are real odd with sharp angles to the bends (only showed one here) and with tapered eyes. The rest of the hooks have drilled eyes. All of them have been forged. These hooks were meant to be fished and I have no doubt they would work.
You have to wonder. In this day and age of inexpensive hooks, why would someone go to the considerable time and effort to make hooks like these. Maybe the challenge and on that level, I can understand. Certainly not to save money or lead a productive life.
9. These three hooks came with some smaller ones (much smaller) that have pretty much the same patina on them but while these are definitely hand made, the smaller ones do not appear to be. These hooks definitely have some age to them. Except for the wire size, nothing about these three hooks are the same. As is the case for some of the prior hooks, the maker of these invested some significant time in making these. He/she also knew what he/she was doing. Yes, the points look somewhat odd but aside from that, the eyes are well formed and centered, not the work of a beginner. The barbs are not cut but metal folded back or welded on. I’m leaning toward folded back.
The shapes of the hooks are similar as is the 4 ½” length and 1 1/2 “ to 1 ¾” gape. The eyes are not the same diameter. Two hooks are reversed and one slightly kirbed. The photo of the eyes above is from below the eyes so you can see that two of the eyes wire are in the reverse direction of most commercial hooks.
There is black paint below what is visible and they look like they have been painted several times.
I recently bought an item on ebay that had a poor quality photo describing it. I really should keep a copy of such photos/items. Anyhow, the photo showed a number of hooks and one big lead sinker in a pile with an old folded paper package with some writing that I could not read. I also could not tell one hook from another. I could tell that the handwriting had hints of the type done in the Victorian days. I had what you could call a “gut feeling” that the hooks were of that vintage. I can’t recall if I was the only bidder but it went very cheap. It was one of those “chances” I am willing to take from time to time. Sometimes you win and others not. I figure the good outweigh the bad.
This turned out to be a good one. This photo shows the paper package with the handwriting on it. The writing says “Salt Water Hooks & Sinkers”. I’ll refer to this as package 1.
This is the pile of hooks that were in the package. Remember that I could not tell one hook from another.
It turned out that the seller had another packet of hooks that he offered me. I’ll refer to it as package 2.
I could tell that package 2 had a couple blind eye hooks and the envelope had some age as well. On the envelope was written, “Very large hooks”.
When I opened the package when they got here, I was taken back as each hook was removed, one by one and I studied them. These were/are very special hooks.
Very old and in pristine condition. Just a touch of rust on one hook which was easy to take care of. Most had never seen water and in fact, the items were stored in very dry condition. Most of the hooks in the boxes look either entirely or partially hand made.
The history I know is as follows. They were found in the attic of the office at Lippitt Farm in Rhode Island. They were found in a box containing items dating from the 1910’s to the 1920’s. It should be noted that there were also items in the attic dating from 1825 to 1960! Unfortunately, the cancellation on package 2 shows no date.
Some of the hooks have maker’s marks on the flats but I’ll not attribute any but two to a particular maker because I have no original packaging. I can make a pretty good guess on a couple but most are unidentified.
I’ll start with package 1.
The two hooks that outshine the others are these two which have the original snells attached. These hooks and cords are exactly as they were the day they were made! Rarely do hooks this age survive in such good original shape and one almost never finds them with the snells still intact in this kind of shape. Both hooks have a raised “B” on the flats. I could guess they came from the early W. Bartleet & Sons who were established in 1750. I don’t think these hooks go that far back but these and a couple others could go back to the early 1800’s. They are between a 3/0 and a 4/0 and 2 3/16” long, flatted and japanned.
This hook also has the letter “B” on the flat. It is a little less than a 3/0, 1 7/8” long and japanned. It looks about the same vintage of the two above.
These two (one shot one of the two hooks) hooks look about the same as the above three hooks. These are about 1/0, 1 ½” long, flatted with an “H” on the flats and blued.
These hooks both have “B” on the flats. The larger hook is a little over a 2/0 and the smaller a 1/0.
The hooks in package 1 are completely different than the ones from package 2. I would say package 1 is the older of the two by quite a few decades. This photo is of George Washington’s fishing tackle. There are similarities between package 1’s contents and a couple of his.
Now, package 2’s contents.
This is a 6/0. flatted hook imprinted with letters IJ, japanned. The hook is about 2 ¾” long. It appears unfished. I am 99% sure this is a John James & Son hook. I have another one with their name imprinted on the shank and this mark on the flat. The other one is in the English hooks section.
This is a beautiful Limerick hollow point hook. It is about a 7/0 hook with an unmarked flat, japanned.
Here we have one of those mystery hooks. It is a gravitation type hook, 6/0, flatted, japanned. I know who made the hook by the Mason’s symbol on the flat. That is unless more than one company used that symbol. I know many hook collectors who have never seen even one hook with the Mason’s symbol on it so having two and from different sources is a bit like getting hit by lightening twice! I even contacted the Mason’s to see if they could shed some light on the subject but nothing came of that. You can see the other hook and read about it in the English Hooks Section.
The hook was made by Clerk, Green & Baker. I know that for sure because the other one has that imprinted on it. The company began as that name in 1858 and it changed name in 1875 to Abbey & Imbrie. So, this hook and the other one would be from that period. This is the mystery though, nowhere is there mention of the Mason’s symbol having been used in their products.
Here is another gravitation hook that is about a 3/0, flatted with no mark on the flat, japanned. These two hooks are very similar but I will not claim them to be both by the same maker.
These three hooks are very unusual. I call them “nail head” hooks because the heads are just like finish nails. Not like any other knobbed hook I’ve ever seen. They are hand made. Used to be tinned. The largest hook is about a 10/0 while the smaller are 6/0. The middle photo shows the two smaller hooks stacked so you can see the difference between them. No idea who made them.
These are two blind eye hooks of which I am just showing one but both points. They are about 8/0, have hand filed tapers, one got gutters and the other didn’t, and both are japanned.
Finally, the last hook that was in package 2. It is about a 5/0 XL about 3 1/8” long, marked, Dublin point, japanned.
This is a huge hook. It has a gap of about 2 1/8” and a length of almost 6 ½”! The hook was found on a mid to late 1700’s fur trade site on the north west coast of Michigan about 1/4 mile inland from the lake…
This hook and the following one are French & Indian War vintage and were found under a large rock. There were these hooks, some English coins along with a few other small items that were stashed away for safe keeping. I took the photos of them on a copper plate engraving from 1780. This is the larger of the two hooks at about 8/0 and 2 ¼” long.
This hook is much smaller than the other one. It is about a 2/0 and slightly longer than 1 ¼”. You can see real similarity between the hook and engraving.
These are a few of seven hooks I bought that are thought to be from medieval Thames London. The largest is about 7/0 and the smallest about 1/0 XL. One has a hint of a “B” under the corrosion but I will not attempt to remove it.
This is a bronze fish hook found in Tel Hawwata (near Shechem). Thought to be early Egyptian. About 1 ¾” long.
This is a Roman bronze fish hook, ca 1-4 century AD. This was not a planned shot. The bug just landed there and had it’s picture taken. REALLY! The hook is 2 ¼” long.