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Classic Cane History: Edwards Family

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  • Classic Cane History: Edwards Family

    This is the second installment in the NGTO classic cane makers history series. This week, we explore the history around another icon in the American artform of bamboo rod making; The Edwards Family and notable associates.

    The following information was originally written by Dick Spurr and has been maintained on Fishnbajo's site for those who wish to learn more about bamboo rods and their makers.

    E. W. Edwards & Sons

    Thomas & Edwards

    It seems almost impossible to discuss the bamboo fly rods made by either Thomas or Edwards without mentioning the other; so we have combined the information and models made by these two great companies into one edition of our Value Guide. Early on in their careers, F. E. "Fred" Thomas and E. W. "Eustis" Edwards both worked for the Leonard Rod Co. in Central Valley, New York, and trained under Hiram Leonard. Eventually they both left and got together with another Leonard rod maker, Loman Hawes, to form the Thomas, Edwards & Hawes Rod Co. a short distance away in Highland Mills. Hawes's either leaves or passes away several years later and was replaced by Ed. Payne, another Leonard apprentice, so the company became known as Thomas, Edwards & Payne This enterprise did not last long and the Kosmic rods made by this company are vary scarce and valuable. A year or so later, Fred left the company when it was sold to U. S. Net & Twine, and returned to Bangor, Maine. Within a year or so he was again joined by Eustis and the resulting Thomas & Edwards Rod Co. built rods mostly under private label trade names such as Von Lengerke & Detmold or Empire City. After a couple years the pair split up again and Fred started the F. E. Thomas Rod Company in 1900, while Eustis started the E. W. Edward Rod Co. a couple years later, also in Bangor, Maine. Fred was eventually joined by his son, Leon, who then took over the company when Fred died in 1938. The Thomas Rod Company lasted into the 1950's when the embargo on Chinese cane and the emerging fiberglass technology combined to put an end to bamboo rod production.

    The history of the Edwards family and their rods is often confusing because it involved some many different aspects at different times. In 1919 Eustis sold his young company to Winchester Repeating Arms, moved his operation to New Haven, Connecticut, and made rods exclusively for that company for five years; some years later he had a similar lease arrangement with Bristol Rod Co. Eustis had two sons, W. E. "Bill" and Leon, both of whom became involved in rod making prior to the formation of the E. W. Edwards & Sons Rod Co. shortly after the Winchester years. After Eustis died in 1931, his sons continued to make rods under the Bristol name. Eventually, discontent with the Bristol operation, Bill went out on his own and formed the W. E. Edwards & Son Rod Co. where he developed his new four-strip rod technology that became famous as the Edwards Quadrate; Gene also went out on his own and formed the Eugene Edwards Rod. Co., but he continued building the traditional 6-strip bamboo rods. Both of these companies also ceased operations during the 1950 era and were purchased by Clarence "Sam" Carlson.

    Photo used by permission - RD Sorensen Purveyor of Fine Fly Tackle
    Last edited by Buck Henry; 09-23-11, 09:30 AM.
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    Buck Henry
    Simple Goat Herder
    Former NGTO President
    Hall of Fame Member