Onesimus Ustonson reels are some of the earliest fishing reels made in the UK. The company was in business from about 1760 to 1855. It is known that fishing reels (winches) have been made in England for a long time. Reels by Onesimus Ustonson are desirable to collectors since they represent the earliest known multiplying reels. He also made fly reels and salmon size reels. The oldest reels are marked “Ustonson, Maker to his Majesty, Temple Bar, London.” Starting in 1837, the reels were marked “Ustonson, Maker to the Queen, Temple Bar, London” since this is the time when Queen Victoria took the throne. The smallest size reels reels were only marked “Ustonson Maker Temple Bar London” due to room constraints. The multiplying reels are not as common as the fly reels. The Utonson company probably made reels for about 100 years, although they were only marked with the name for about 30 years. Onesimus Ustonson reels are considered one of the early great reels made in the UK.
It is interesting to note that the Ustonson marked reels were in fact not made under Onesimus’s supervision. They were in fact made by his daughter-in-law Maria who had married his son Charles. Charles died shortly after the marriage and Maria took over the business in 1816. She obtained prominence with royalty and was able to so mark her reels. The business was sold to William Peters in 1845, and hence the reel marking change.
The earliest fishing rods did not have a metal seat or locking band to securely attach the reel to the rod. The reel was fastened to the rod with leather straps laced through holes or notches in the reel’s foot. Reels with a perforated foot were made in the early 1800’s. An example of this type of reel design is shown below.
The name markings on the Ustonson reels and the manufacturing dates are shown below.
1824-1837: Ustonson, Maker to his Majesty, Temple Bar, London
1837-1845: Ustonson, Maker to the Queen, Temple Bar, London
1845-1855: Ustonson & Peters, Maker to the Queen, 48 Bell Yard, Temple Bar, London
The USTONSON Multiplier Reel
The USTONSON Fly Reel
The USTONSON Fly Reel
The USTONSON Fly Reel w/Folding Crank Handle Knob
Unmarked Brass Reel from Ustonson Era, circa 1820
Another Great Antique Vintage Fishing Tackle Link: