Known as America’s largest production rod companies for many years, Horrocks-Ibbotson was one of the companies that was competing head to head with Montague and South Bend. Horrocks and Ibbotson became known as the World’s Largest Manufacturer of Fishing Tackle. It traces its history from its beginnings as the George A. Clark & Co. in 1880, to the renaming of Clark-Horrocks Co. in 1891, to Horrocks & Ibbotson in 1909.
The companies history traces back to 1812 but did not become involved with fishing tackle until 1863 when an English immigrant named James Horrocks was hired as a clerk. In 1894, Edward Ibbotson was hired as an errand boy. Gradually the company acquired existing tackle companies. In 1905 the company built a new factory in Utica, New York and continued to grow until it was known throughout the world. The firm was incorporated in 1909 as the Horrocks-Ibbotson Co.
The rods made by Horrocks-Ibbotson up to 1935 filled every need for the consumer. The higher grade rods such as the President and the Chancellor featured nickel silver fittings and were as good as any of the rods being produced by their competition. At the other end of the spectrum were the cheapest production rods. Horrocks-Ibbotson made hundreds of different models throughout the years, and many had such minor differences in fittings and wraps that they were indistinguishable without direct comparison.
Decals are useful for dating Horrocks-Ibbotson rods. The diamond with the UTK logo dates from 1905 until World War I. This logo is usually stamped into the reel seat, but also appears as a decal. The Trout logo decal was then used until 1929. It is rarely seen and is the most beautiful of the H-I decals. Next to appear was an elongated Double Diamond with Utica, NY inside and was used until 1933. In 1934, a double-diamond logo including the banner reading Best by Test was introduced and was used until 1939. Next came the fanciest of all Horrocks-Ibbotson decals featuring a bright red H-I on a white diamond and accompanied by two banners reading Fish Rod and Genuine Tonkin Cane. The decal of the early 1950′s was rectangular with a small gold foil diamond logo. The final decal was a simple red diamond with a large white H-I.
When trying to identify a rod that has no decal, the writing of the model name is helpful. H-I used white ink, and usually wrote with the words running toward the grip. The only other maker that used white ink was Edwards, who usually wrote with the words reading away from the grip. The reel seats did not change much; the spacers were usually solid color plastic before World War II, and marbleized plastic after the war.
As with all rods, the most recent Horrocks-Ibbotson products are the most commonly seen. However there are still some rods out there that are worth looking for.