Reprinted from Michael Sinclair's Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook
Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New
Haven, Conn. was an old and highly respected manufacturer and seller
of sporting goods of all sorts. The products they sold were usually
marked with the famous Winchester logo, though many were not actually
made in their own factories.
In the period immediately following [World War I], Edwards was approached
by the Winchester Company about making rods to sell under the Winchester
trademark. In 1919, the sale of E. W. Edwards Rod Co. was finalized, and
as a condition of the sale Edwards went to New Haven, Conn. to supervise
the manufacture of the Winchester Rods for five years - Eustis Edwards had
been one of H. L. Leonard's proteges in New York, and had also been one
of the principals in the Thomas, Edwards & Payne Co. which manufactured
the Kosmic rods. As such, his name was associated with it.
It was perhaps the Edwards reputation as much as his rodmaking skills
that made him the choice of Winchester to build the rods that would
carry their trademark. This does indeed seem to be the case. From the
very beginning, Winchester boasted that "These rods are made under
the direct supervision of Mr.E. W. Edwards." The highest grade rods
(those selling for $50) were advertised as "Hand-made throughout by
Mr. E. W. Edwards. These rods are perfect in every detail."
Edwards may not have had as much control over the rod building
operation as the catalogs lead us to believe. He became uncomfortable
with the lower quality of the mass-produced rods, and when his contractual
obligation was completed in 1924, he left Winchester and went into
business on his own.
Edwards/Winchester Rods of higher grades were very good rods; they
used high quality nickel silver ferrules and hardware, and had good
taper designs. The higher grades were the equal of any rods in production,
and were better than most. The cane and finishing work was absolutely
first-class. The middle grade rods were strictly average in all respects.
But, the lower grades had few redeeming qualities. The hardware used
on the lowest grades was nickel plated brass, as were the ferrules. The
cane work was typical of lower grade production rods, with random
node spacing and little care in matching the cane for color and quality.
The end result was a cheap rod that equalled the lower grades of
Montague and Horrocks-Ibbotson.
It is no wonder that Eustis Edwards soon tired of this type business.
Markings on Edwards/Winchester Rods are usually only the model number,
a four digit number that begins with the numeral "6", and corresponds to
those shown on the chart. This number is usually stamped into the
reelseat hardware, but may appear written on the rod shaft. Note that
the model number designates the grade, length and type of action.
Unless you have the chart as a reference, the model numbers are
After Edwards left Winchester, the company continued to produce
rods for several years without benefit of Edwards' expertise.
The rods certainly did not get any better during this period. Without
being able to use the Edwards name, Winchester needed a name to help
sell its rods. In the late 1920's and very early 1930's, Courtney Ryley
Cooper, famous angling author, was the Winchester "poster child."
Full page, full color advertising was used in sporting magazines to
announce that Courtney Ryley Cooper uses Winchester Tackle.
By 1935, Winchester had sold its rodmaking division, both bamboo
and steel, to Horrocks-Ibbotson of Utica, N.Y. H-I/Winchester
rods were of average or lower quality. The markings on these rods
are usually simple. The Winchester name and model name are
written on the rod shaft, with white ink, with the letters reading toward
the grip. The rods themselves are standard H-I models which were
re-named to help distinguish them as Winchesters.
It does not seem that Winchester sold these rods. If that is true,
Horrocks-Ibbotson made use of the Winchester reputation much
as Winchester had exploited the Edwards name in the early
1920's. Wraps for H-I/Winchester rods varied dramatically,
and almost any H-I wrap pattern may be used as long as you pay
attention to the relative grade of the rod.