H.L. Leonard Philbrook & Paine (Payne) Fishing Reels

H.L. Leonard, Philbrook & Paine (Payne), William Mills, T. H. Bate Fishing Reels

H.L. Leonard - Bangor, ME

H L Leonard reels were made by him when he was a famous rod maker from Bangor, Maine. In 1877, Francis Philbrook received a patent for a raised pillar reel. That was the start of the Leonard reel history. The earliest models have beautiful marbleized orange and black hard rubber end plates and handle knobs and are marked Philbrook & Paine, Makers. Philbrook was actually in partnership with Edward Payne and hence some confusion when one sees the name Paine on these early reels. Marbleized fly reels and salmon reels have also been found unmarked and marked William Mills & Son. Payne's 1890 patented sliding drag bar can be seen on Philbrook & Paine and H.L. Leonard reels. The next series after the marbleized versions were bi-metallic and had a nickel silver frame with bronze rims and pillar attachment tabs. The first bi-metallic fly reels had nickel silver spools and the Philbrook 1877 patent date on them. Later ones had aluminum spools and the patent number. 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. H.L. Leonard is consider to be one of the great reel makers in the New England states area.

The H.L. LEONARD Trout and Salmon Bi-Metal Reels

The PHILBROOK & PAINE Fly Reel, circa 1877

The PHILBROOK & PAINE Salmon Reel, circa 1877

The H.L. LEONARD Bi-Metal Salmon Reel with Edward Payne Drag, circa 1890

The H.L. LEONARD Bi-Metal Salmon Reel Variation, circa 1890

The H.L. LEONARD Bi-Metal Fly Reel, circa 1900

The H.L. LEONARD Bi-Metal Fly Reel by Julius vom Hofe, circa 1910

The H.L. LEONARD Bi-Metal Fly Reel Markings

The H.L. LEONARD No. 44 Fly Reel, circa 1910

The H.L. LEONARD Salmon Reel, circa 1905

The JULIUS vom HOFE Size 1 Reel Made For LEONARD-MILLS, circa 1928

WILLIAM MILLS & SON Aluminum Fly Reel


WILLIAM MILLS & SON August, 1880 Forest and Stream Magazine Ad

WILLIAM MILLS & SON June 2, 1888 American Angler Magazine Ad

WILLIAM MILLS & SON 1933 Catalog Pages

WILLIAM MILLS & SON 1933 Catalog Pages

The LEONARD-MILLS 1938 Catalog

Francis Philbrook 1877 Patent assigned to H.L. Leonard

Edward Payne's 1890 Sliding Drag Patent

To see an excerpt from an article by The Museum of American Fly Fishing about the History of Francis Philbrook, Edward Payne and his son, Jim Payne and their reel and rod making, click on the link below.

Link to Article

To see high quality digitized versions of early William Mills & Son Catalogs on Google Books website, click on the links below.

Link to 1909 William Mills & Son Catalog

Link to 1922 William Mills & Son Catalog

For any questions about vintage antique fishing reels, lures or tackle, please feel free to Email or Call me. I always like to talk about old tackle.

Remember, I'm always buying old vintage fishing lures and reels!

Email me at: ron@luresnreels.com or Call or Text me at: 407-496-7940


Ron Gast

Orlando, FL

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