Hooks Made in America
This section of the old hooks features hooks made in America and a few which may have been made elsewhere but for American companies. Some of these are hooks made by Bate. The Bate company was started by two brothers, Thomas & James Bate from Redditch England. They had a hook making business in Redditch. In 1822, they opened the T & J Bate Co. in New York. This company would take on new names every few years with the final one, the venerable firm of Wm. Mills & Son. In all their years of doing business, the company remained a family owned business.
Most hook makers in the early years came to America from Redditch England and the surrounding area. That was really the center of the hook making world for a good many years.
When viewing the various sections of this old hook section, you will see hooks in any given section that may have been made somewhere else. Some companies had hooks made in different countries. The Edward Vom Hofe company is a good example. I have hooks imprinted with the Vom Hofe name and England, USA and Norway. Where to put the hooks? Since they functioned in the US, many of their hooks will be in this section. There will also be a good many Vom Hofe hooks in the Saltwater and even the snelled section. The Thomas J Conroy Co. is another US company who’s hooks I have imprinted with their name and at least one Conroy package of snelled saltwater hooks marked R Harrison & Co., Redditch.
All of this cross pollination can be quite confusing made even more so due to the lack of written accounts of the companies and their products.
The obvious place to start this American hook section is with a couple hooks made by who some call the father of American hook making, Job Johnson.
American Fish Hook & Needle Co.
The American Fish Hook & Needle Co. Was founded by Dr. Chauncey O. Crosby, a Dentist and the inventor of the first automated hook making machine. His brother Charles A. Crosby, Dexter Alden and some other minor individuals founded the company in 1864.
The New Haven, Connecticut company was successful from the beginning. By 1867, 180,000,000 hooks a year were being made by the company as noted in a contemporary issue of Scientific American! For all practical purposes, the day of hand made hooks was over.
The American Fish Hook & Needle Co. would later be bought by E.F. Pflueger of the Enterprise Manufacturing Co.. The Pflueger company operated for many years after that now making their own fish hooks.
You can read more about these two companies in Todd Larson’s book “The History Of The Fish Hook In America”
The early boxes that hold the hooks are wonderful little treasure chests. I believe them to be hand made as none are quite the same. Not only is seeing this many American Fish Hook & Needle Co. hooks a treat, but seeing the boxes in such good shape is as well.
You will note that some box lids have an indent with a hook sewn into it. Down in the lower rt. corner these boxes have patented July 18, 1865. This patent date is not for the hooks but is for the boxes. Also of note, not all of the hooks in any given box are the same. Some have dull japanning and others glossy. Some even are different shapes.