Whitefish Press

The History of the Fish Hook in America:
An Illustrated Overview of the Origins, Development, and Manufacture of the American Fish Hook

Todd E.A. Larson


Trade Paperback 8.5" x 5.5", 352 Pages, 200+ B&W Illustrations, Fully Referenced


The first of a three-volume series on the history of the American fish hook traces the origins of the hook industry from its humble beginnings in Brooklyn to its position as a major competitor both in foreign and domestic markets by 1900. The product of more than ten years of research, this work covers - much of it for the first time ever in print - the detailed history of the manufacturers and wholesalers who provided Americans with billions of hooks during this era. Fully illustrated with over 200 images, including many of rare and collectable fish hooks, the first volume is 352 pages and should appeal to fishermen, collectors, and history buffs alike.


The Whitefish Press is an admirable enterprise with a steadily lengthening history of publishing books that ought to be printed, with the result that its catalogue is an Aladdin’s cave for specialists of every shade of interest. They have brought out a flood of titles of interest to tackle collectors in recent months and probably have the best selection of books on American baits available at the time of writing. The History of the Fish Hook in America is by the publisher himself, the incomparable Dr. Todd E. A. Larson and is a collection of heavily footnoted articles about the early history of hook manufacture in the US - and in Europe, because imports made up the bulk of early American hooks. As a reference work it is hard to beat...The only real issue I have with The History of the Fish Hook in America is that it is only available as a soft back and my copy is in danger of being referenced to bits, but as an object lesson in how to write entertaining history it knows few equals.

-- Dr. Andrew Herd, Waterlog Magazine


Section I: The Fish Hook in America

Chapter 1: A Short History of the Fish Hook in America, Part I (A detailed look at the origins and development of the fish hook from Ancient Times up to the founding of America. Perhaps the most informative history of the fish hook available.)

Chapter 2: How Fish Hooks Were Made: Touring the Nineteenth Century Hook Factory (This chapter contains a description—complete with original text—of a number of tours of Victorian hook manufacturers, both in America and Britain).

Chapter 3: The "Regrettable Jumble": Henry Cholmondeley-Pennell, Samuel Allcock, and the Great Hook Scale Debate in America (A fascinating look at the failed attempt by Americans to bring standardization to the hook numbering scales of the late Victorian era.)

Chapter 4: To Beard or Not to Beard: The Origins of the Barbless Hook in America (The origins of the American barbless hook, from its originator Seth Green to the great debates over its introduction to its eventual acceptance as an environmentally safe alternative.)

Chapter 5: The Tarpon Hook and the Origins of Saltwater Fishing in America (A detailed look at how the technological revolution in saltwater fish hooks affected the growth of saltwater fishing, especially Tarpon fishing. Included in this chapters are a history of tarpon fishing and profiles of important proponents including Kenworthy, Van Vleck, Vom Hofe, and others.)

Section II: Early American Fish Hook Manufacturers

Chapter 7: The Hook of Job: A Short History of Job Johnson, Pioneer of the American Fish Hook (For the first time ever, a detailed history of the originator of the American hook industry—Job Johnson.)

Chapter 8: John Warrin: America's Multinational Corporate Hook Maker (A fascinating chapter on the earliest New York tackle shop owner and his relationship to the fish hook. Warrinís firm would later be known as Abbey & Imbrie, and thus this is requisite information for anyone interested in the history of that illustrious New York firm.)

Chapter 9: John W. Court: Brooklyn's Forgotten Hook Man (Fascinating story of one of the forgotten hook men of the nineteenth century—John W. Court of Brooklyn.)

Chapter 10: America's Hookmaking Dynasty, or How the Bate Family Gave Birth to Dry Fly Fishing in America: A Short History of William Mills & Son (This detailed chapter covers the history of one of the most important early tackle merchants in America, that of Thomas and James Bate. Founded in 1822, this firm would undergo numerous name changes until it reached its final permutation in the famed William Mills & Son. William Mills was the son-in-law of the founder.)

Chapter 11: Dr. Crosby and the Hook Machine: The Origins of the American Needle & Fish Hook Co. (For the first time ever, the truth behind the origins of this mysterious company, noted for creating the first automatic hook making machines in history. The mysterious relationship to Pflueger is finally (and correctly) identified for the first time ever.)

Chapter 12: Untying the Pflueger Fish Hook: The Convoluted History of the Enterprise Manufacturing Company Hook Trade (For the first time, the truth behind Pflueger fish hooks that will reveal the myth of a heretofore bedrock piece of the companyís history. Correctly traces the origins of the Pflueger hook trade up to its position as the dominant hook maker in America for most of the twentieth century.)

Section III: The American Spring Snap Hook

Chapter 13: In Search of George Griswold: On the Trail of America's First Fishing Tackle Inventor of the Patent Era

The History of the Fish Hook in America:
April 2007, Paperback
$24.95 Retail Price





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