H.L. Leonard Philbrook & Paine Fishing Reels

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

H.L. Leonard - Bangor, ME

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 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. 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. Reels marked T. H. Bate are classified as New York ball-handled reels and are collectable.

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 No. 44 Fly Reel, circa 1910

The H.L. LEONARD Salmon Reel, circa 1905

WILLIAM MILLS & SON Aluminum Fly Reel


WILLIAM MILLS & SON 1933 Catalog Pages

WILLIAM MILLS & SON 1933 Catalog Pages

The LEONARD-MILLS 1938 Catalog

Edward Payne's 1890 Sliding Drag Patent

To see high quality digitized versions of patents found on H.L. Leonard Reels contained on the Google Patent website, click on the links below.

Link to Francis Philbrook's 1877 Patent

Link to Edward Payne's 1890 Patent

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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