Onesimus Ustonson Reels – London, England

Onesimus Ustonson reels are some of the earliest fishing reels made in the UK. The company was in business from about 1760 to 1855. Onesimus was born in 1736 and died in 1810. 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. It is interesting to note that most of 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 Onesimus’s 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 oldest reels are marked “Ustonson, Maker, Temple Bar, London.” Starting in 1837, the reels were marked “Ustonson, Maker to the Queen, Temple Bar, London” since this is the time Queen Victoria took the throne. The business was sold to William Peters in 1845, and hence the reel marking change. The multiplying reels are not as common as the fly reels. The Utonson company probably made reels for about 85 years, although they were only marked with the name for about 50 years. Onesimus Ustonson reels are considered one of the early great reels made in the UK.

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 in photos below.

The estimated dates of the reel markings are as follows:

  • 1800-1824: Ustonson, Maker, Temple Bar, London
  • 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


Ustonson Reels
Ustonson Reels


The USTONSON “Maker” Engraved Large Size Salmon Reel

The USTONSON “Maker to His Majesty” Engraved Small Reel

The USTONSON “Maker to His Majesty” Engraved Wide Spool Reel

The USTONSON “Maker to His Majesty” Engraved Reel

The USTONSON “Maker to the Queen” Engraved Fly Reel

The USTONSON & PETERS “Maker to the Queen” Engraved Reel


The USTONSON Fly Reel w/Folding Crank Handle Knob

Unmarked Brass Reel from Ustonson Era, circa 1820