Thanks to Wendy, we now have a bit more information on the mysterious Maine guide Rance V. Ham. Wendy found an obituary from 1919 that gives quite a bit of information on this gentleman:
Rance V. Hame died Monday, March 24th at his home in Moscow [Maine] of heart trouble. Mr. Ham was a man of strong constitution until several years ago, when his heart began to trouble him, which was the beginning of his declining health. He was born at The Forks of the Kennebec, May 16, 1845, and consequently was 73 years, 10 months, and 8 days.
He was the son of John S. and Lucy (Elder) Ham. On June 19, 1873, he was united in marriage to Marcia Leighton Barron of Monmouth. To this unions were born eight children, two having passed away some years ago. The remaining ones are Elizabeth H. Massie of Penacook, N.H., Edith A. Greeley of Windsorville, Lucky J. Crombie, Charlie F. and Edmund H. Ham, Moscow, and Sergt. Austin D. Ham, who is stationed at Camp Devens, Mass. He is also survived by his wife and one step-son, Alvin Barron of Concord; also two sisters Mrs. James Mahoney of Bingham and Mrs. Arthur Bagley of Clinton. He had followed the occupation of guide for a number of years wherein he made many life long friends. He had a genial personality and his strongest characteristic was his unfailing desire to lend a helping hand to others.
The newspaper where the obit came from was not noted. Wendy also uncovered a Kirtland dealer's catalog (likely 1907) cut of the rod, although the resolution is very low:
Note that the rod retailed for $5, but sold at wholesale for $3! Unbelievable to think you could have hand-made a six-strip bamboo rod and sold it for $3 at a profit. I could find no mention of this rod after 1907, so perhaps they didn't make money on this after all.
The one thing we haven't been able to discover is whether Rance Ham actually made the rods himself. Perhaps we'll find out the answer to this in the near future.
Many thanks to Wendy for helping us learn some more about Rance V. Ham!
-- Dr. Todd