Henry and Thomas Prichard

  Brooklyn, New York
The right three sections above are part of a 92" lancewood baitcaster. 

The left-most piece is the butt of a 9'6" split bamboo fly rod. 

Both show different versions of the 1881 celluloid grip and the 1888 reel seat band.

View picture #2

View picture #3

  My first real excitement on eBay came the day that I discovered my first Henry Prichard rod.  I had just finished reading AJ Campbell's book for the first time and had started downloading all of the rod patents from the 1800s.  Lo and behold, there it was - a 92" lancewood baitcaster with two marked patents.  Ran back to AJ's, reread the pages on Henry and his brother Thomas, and thought that I had found a genuine museum piece.  Almost couldn't sleep for 6 nights waiting on the auction to end.  Stole that rod for $76 and was one happy camper.  Within the first year, I saw another 8-10 Prichard rods.  They're certainly not a rare as I thought, but I still have a great fondness for them.

  The Pritchard Brothers, Thomas and Henry, emigrated from England and settled in Brooklyn, NY, where they set up shop on Fulton Street in the 1850s.  Both spellings of Pritchard are apparently correct.  On October 4, 1859, Henry received the 3rd recorded fishing rod patent (# 25,693) for Improvement in Guide Rings for Fishing Rods.  Both Patent #25,693 - October 4,1859brothers signed the patent application - Henry Pritchard and Thomas Prichard.  All of the later patents are signed as "Henry Prichard."  Many immigrants "Americanized" the spelling of their last names after they had been in the country a few years.

  The Prichard Brothers were well known and well respected in the industry.  Fred Mather, in his 1901 Forest & Stream magazine article My Angling Friends, wrote that their "little shop upstairs was kept busy by anglers who knew their skill, and also by some of the largest fishing tackle houses . . . so the brothers found plenty of work."  Genio Scott, in his famous book Fishing in American Waters (1875) talks about "many experienced anglers, whom, I may justly add, are great bunglers at tying a fly ..."  He adds, "Half a dozen lessons from Pritchard Brothers, or one of the fly-tyers for Andrew Clerk & Co., could scarcely fail of being useful to the student of contemplative philosophy."  He later mentions, "I suppose that Pritchard Brothers might make a good salmon-rod, as they are old salmon-fishers."

    I located the following records from the New York census records of 1790-1890:


Surname Given Name County


Township Record Type Database ID#
1860 PRICHARD HENRY Kings County 317 14 W. Brooklyn Federal Population Schedule NY 1860 Federal Census Index NY44387554
1870 PRICHARD HENRY Kings County 649 5 W. Brooklyn Federal Population Schedule NY 1860 Federal Census Index NY311110249
1860 PRICHARD THOMAS Kings County 317 14 W. Brooklyn Federal Population Schedule NY 1860 Federal Census Index NY44387557

  I also located one entry in the 1888-1890 Brooklyn, New York business directories:


Business Name Occupation Location1 Location2 City State Year

Thomas Prichard

  fishingtackle 90 Fulton N.Y. 109 Driggs Brooklyn NY 1888, 1889

  Henry Prichard was issued a total of 4 patents:

Patent #

Issue Date Title Example
25,693 October 4, 1859 Improvement to Guide Rings for Fishing Rods See above.
235,017 November 30, 1880 Reel Lock for Fishing Rods Never seen one.
250,968 December 13, 1881 Improvements to Fishing Rod

Click here

376,260 January 10, 1888 Wedge Ferrule for Fishing Reels and Rods

Click here

  Numerous early rods from dozens of rod-makers can be found with the 1859 guide ring patent.  By the time the 1881 and 1888 patents were issued, the Prichard Brothers were making rod for or selling their rods to Abbie & Imbrie.  You see numerous rods - bamboo, lancewood, and greenheart - stamped with these 1881 and 1888 patents.  I also haven't seen or read about a single rod stamped with the Prichard name.  That's one of my many goals - to find one.


Copyright 2002-2009
Thomas C Kerr
All rights reserved

Your comments, corrections, & suggestions are welcome.  Please e-mail them to me at tkerr AT shentel.net .

Tom Kerr