Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Voices from the Past: Fish Hooks (1857)

The following description of fish hooks comes from Chamber's Information for the People, a Victorian encyclopedia of general knowledge ca. 1857. Note the fantastic line about ordinary English hook makers…

Hooks. These are small instruments made of tempered steel, and of whatever size, they require to possess the qualities of lightness and great strength. They have been always principally manufactured at two places-—Kendal in Westmoreland, and Limerick in Ireland. The Kendal circular bends, as they are called, are reckoned the best hooks of a small size, while the Limerick hook is preferable for salmon. Many of the fish-hooks of ordinary English makers are worthless. Hooks range in size from about an inch and a half in length down to a quarter of an inch, with a proportional diminution of thickness. Some makers number them from No. 10, the smallest, to No. 20, the largest; while others number from 1, the largest, to 14, the smallest. The Limerick hooks are denoted by letters, commencing with A, and so on. In purchasing hooks, see that the body is of equal thickness throughout, and that the barb is boldly yet firmly set. Try their power of resistance by forcing the bend with the fingers, and urging the point against the thumb-nail. Hooks for fly-fishing should be thinner in the shank than those designed for bait. An angler should keep a small stock of hooks of various sorts, to be ready on all emergencies, with the tackle to which they are attached. They require to be kept very dry.

-- Dr. Todd

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