The following blurb was printed in the October 31, 1885 of Chamber's Journal and features the first notice of a classic bobber, Catmur's patented "Eclipse" float.
AN INGENIOUS FISHING-FLOAT.
Bottom fishers have from time immemorial been put to a great inconvenience in the pursuance of their craft . They have been unable, when angling in anything of a breeze, to detect a 'nibble' or the 'bite' of a small fish from the movement of their floats caused by the ripples of the water. Thus, many fish have been missed, and many times anglers have 'struck' at nothing. Mr A. V. Catmur, of 18 Ebury Street, London, has introduced the 'Eclipse' float, which does away with the inconvenience in question. A porcupine quill, having a small ivory ball at the top and a cork cone at the bottom, has in the centre a loosely-running cylinder of the latter material, occupying less than the intervening space. The line passes through the ball, the cylinder, the cone, and a little eye attached to the bottom extremity of the quill. When in the upright position in the water—and it may be added that the float is 'self,cocking'—the cylinder occupies a central position between the ivory ball and the cone, it being separated from both by a small space. The entire contrivance will rise and fall upon the ripples; but a 'bite,' or tug upon the line, will draw down the quill and its ball-appendage, without affecting the cylinder. Thus, when the angler sees his float bobbing up and down, he will take no notice; but when he sees that the ivory ball descends towards the top of the cylinder, he will know that there is a fish attacking his bait and that he may 'strike.'
-- Dr. Todd