Onesimus Ustonson (1736-83) is a celebrated name in early fishing tackle. Apprenticed to John Herro, a fishing tackle maker based at the Fish and Crown in Bell Yard, a narrow thoroughfare between Carey and Fleet streets, he took over the shop in 1760.
The firm remained a market leader and family concern for the next century supplying luxury tackle to, among others, the naturalist Joseph Banks for Cook’s Second Voyage and three reigning monarchs.
The fishing rod and tackle supplied by daughter-in-law Maria Ustonson (1784-1856) to George IV in 1824 for use at Virginia Water (at an eye-watering cost £196 10s) is part of the Royal Collection.
This reel is a relatively late issue, made when the firm was run by Maria and William Peters, another Bell Yard tackle maker. The partnership between the two lasted seven years from 1847-55 and it was under this name that the firm exhibited its wares at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
This rare reel from this brief period was guided at £100-200 at a Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) of Dorchester sale of Coins, Medals and Militaria, Arms and Armour, Sporting and Taxidermy on March 11. The hammer price was £2600 via thesaleroom.com.