William Wm. Mills & Son, T. H. Bate & Co. Reel
William Mills & Son, New York, NY
William Mills & Son was one of the longest run sporting goods stores in the
USA. The company William Mills & Son was established in 1822 under the name T.
& J. Bate. The company name changed to Thos. Bate in 1836, to T. & T. H. Bate in
1843, to Thos. H. Bate in 1853 and then to T. H. Bate & Co. in 1859. The name
was finally changed to Wm. Mills & Son in 1875. Probably the most famous brand
reels sold by Wm. Mills were those by H.L. Leonard. Hiram Leonard was a famous
rod maker from Bangor, Maine. In 1877, Francis Philbrook assigned his patented
raised pillar reel to him and that was the start of the Leonard reel history.
The earliest models have beautiful marbelized orange and black hard rubber end
plates and handle knobs and are marked Philbrook & Paine, Makers. Marbelized fly
reels and salmon reels have also been found unmarked and marked William Mills &
Son. The next series were bimetalic and had nickel silver frame with bronze rims
and pillar attachment tabs. The first bimetalic fly reels had nickel silver
spools and later ones had aluminum ones. Either of these reels is considered
rare and highly collectable. Most Leonard reels found are the later ones sold by
William Mills & Son and are marked "H.L. Leonard, Patented" or "Leonard-Mills."
The Leonard-Mills reels were made for the William Mills Co. by Julius vom Hofe
starting around 1900 up until World War II. All the Leonard reels are high
quality and sought after by collectors. Reels marked Philbrook & Paine or T. H. Bate are
also highly collectable.
William Mills also offered a reel made specifically for them. It was made by Geo.
Gayle & Son and was named "INTRINSIC". This is a high quality reel of German
silver with an aluminum
spool. It came in two variations and in No. 2 and No. 3 sizes.
Company History from William Mills & Son Catalog
The T.H. BATE & CO. Reel, circa 1860
The PHILBROOK & PAINE Fly Reel, circa 1877
The PHILBROOK & PAINE Salmon Reel, circa 1877
The H.L. LEONARD Bi-Metal Fly Reel, circa 1900
The H.L. LEONARD Salmon Reel, circa 1905
WILLIAM MILLS & SON Aluminum Fly Reel
The LEONARD-MILLS Fly Reel
The LEONARD-MILLS 1938 Catalog
For any questions about antique fishing reels,
lures or tackle, please feel free to Email or Call me.
I always like to talk about old tackle.
P.O. Box 420703
Kissimmee, FL 34742-0703
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