By Ronn Lucas Sr.
For too long fish hooks have been taken for granted, yet they have been used for thousands of years in one form or another to catch fish. They are the single most important part of fishing gear. Over time, twigs, thorns, bone, various metals have been used by man to fashion hooks. We will show you many hooks from general fishing hooks to very specialized hooks. Freshwater or salt, it will be here. You will see hooks by many of the old English hook makers and the very early American ones as well as many from the O. Mustad & Son company in Norway. Big hooks and small, we will have them all. The purpose of this section will hopefully show you how beautiful and interesting hooks were in times past.
Very little history on the making of hooks exists which is testament to the fact it isn’t only us who pay little attention to hooks but few did in the past. We aim to change that. I hope you will look at hooks a little differently after you’ve seen what will be here. I don’t aim to make hook collectors out of everyone but I bet after some of you see how interesting old hooks are, you just might. We will not give values of hooks in this section.
Often you will see close up photos of hook parts. I do this to point out unusual features or to see hand work on some hooks. Hooks are best seen up close and personal. Some hooks are beautiful in their shapes. Others tell stories of their origins. Even some packaging is beautiful and also speaks from the past. Take a look at the hooks and boxes made by The American Fish Hook & Needle Company. The little boxes were hand made, none are exactly the same. The indented top with the attached hook are also very cool. By the way, the patent date on the boxes is not for the hooks, it is for the boxes! Even the hooks speak. Hooks out of the same box aren’t all the same.
I have tried to segregate the various hooks in easy to find sections. Some hooks simply have no maker’s info to identify them so those you will find in the “Unidentified Hooks” section. There will be a few hooks with the makers unknown but that appear to be say of English or American origin so they may show up in a different section. Some hooks like the E Vom Hofe hooks have markings indicating country of origin as Norway, England and the USA. Since they were essentially an American tackle company, I have put their hooks in the “American Hooks” section. The “Miscellaneous” section has vintage paper items, Snelled flies, many vintage hook plates and related fishing items, etc. You will also find snelled hooks particularly in the “Saltwater Hooks” section as well as in the “Snelled Hooks” section. Some of the saltwater hooks have metal snells so I put all of them in The “Saltwater” section. There are also some gut and a few nylon snelled saltwater hooks which will also be in that section. Almost all of the rest of the snelled hooks will be in the “Snelled Hooks” section.
We won’t feature many lures because I feel they, for the most part have moved away from just hooks which is our focus. We will show a few special lures from the early 1900’s and 1800’s.
We will also show mechanical hooks which really aren’t something most folks have seen before. They are devises that hard core meat hunters used to try to prevent breaking off a fish.
This section of the website may appear dysfunctional at times but it was written by a dysfunctional person. I’ve done my best to pigeonhole items that maybe can’t be but certainly resist it.
A note about some of the hooks in this collection. In 2007 a fairly large and significant number of hooks some which were tagged with information and dates of about 1905 to 1917 were offered for sale. This collection had all the signs of not having been disturbed since the time they were put away for storage back then. I was fortunate to be able to buy the bulk of this collection. Most was for fishing saltwater and all but about four very small hooks were about 5/0 to 14/0 +- hooks. Many were marked by the maker E Vom Hofe, TJ Conroy, Harrison, Pfleuger, Van Vleck, etc.. Others had hanging tags with other possible makers that I don’t recognize. A few were marked as samples. Many had hand worked parts which leads me to speculate if some of them were prototype hooks. During the period of 1880 to early 1900’s, the saltwater fishing by hook and for sport was developing. Up to that time, hooks for reliably catching and actually landing big game fish such as Tarpon were not available. With advancements in metallurgy and hook making, the hook makers busily designed and made all manner of hooks for this new “sport”. It is possible that some of these hooks in the collection were part of that process. Of course, we will never know for sure but the manner the hooks were stored and labeled indicated that the owner of them at the time, thought very highly of them.
Unfortunately most of the paper items and gut snells and leaders have not weathered the passage of time well. Most of the paper is extremely fragile and the gut is very brittle.
Prototypes or not, they are from an era that stirs the imagination and I feel a little connected to that early time when I hold these hooks.
So I don’t have to repeat this description of the various items from that collection with every one in this section, I will simply refer to them as the 1900’s collection.
Finally, hooks and other items that appear here that are in collections other than mine, will be identified. Hooks and other items with no owner indicated are from my collection. As you might guess, all of us still collect so I have provided names and contact information for those of us who wish to be contacted to buy or sell hooks and related items.
If you have information on any of the hooks presented here that is relevant, please let us know.
And, if you have old hooks that you would like show cased here, send me hi resolution photos of them or, if you want to send them to me, I will photograph them and we will include them giving the owner credit.
For those of you who may have vintage hooks you wish to sell or trade feel free to contact me.