B. James & Son Richard Walker MK IV carp rod c1952 in MINT ORIGINAL CONDITION.

The only truly mint, unused early B. James MK IV I have ever seen, and it's fully inscribed by James Bruce Snr -no transfers.


When I first drew it from its bag, I thought I was seeing a stripped down and re-finished rod. The cork was so clean, the alloy butt cap and sliding reel bands so shiny and free from corrosion. The varnish was bright and fresh. The rings were free from corrosion and grooves. The whole rod was spotless. This emotion lasted for less than a minute, and then I realised that what I was in fact viewing, for the first time in thirty six years in the trade, was a completely unused, mint MK IV.

When a rod has been re-finished, no matter how skilfully, there are signs. Bright metal looks polished. Cork, if has been dirty and worn, looks washed and scrubbed. The silks won’t have the faded, lightly crazed appearance that comes with age alone. This rod was almost certainly made in very late 1952. It’s seventy. It’s spent all that time in its bag, quietly doing nothing, like Dorian Gray in the attic. Don’t take it out. Weird stuff will happen! No wait a minute, that’s Oscar Wilde.

There is no ghosting of older rings, whippings, varnish, transfers or wear and tear here. This rod is just as it was when it left the B James shop in 1952. Food rationing didn’t end until July 1954. Think on’t. Perhaps its owner, mindful of how much he’d paid for it, became too worried about spoiling it to risk using it. Who knows.

The rod is built on a particularly clean, fine and straight hand made Southwell blank. Its ferrules are absolutely unworn and retain their perfect bronzed finish and hand turned hardwood stopper.

The 29″ handle has a subtle trumpet shaped flare at its top, with the usual alloy reel bands and butt cap from W R Products of Shepherd’s Bush. The black rubber button is the correct 1½” diameter.

The butt and tip rings are agate lined nickel silver, with chrome plated bridge intermediates. The original hook keeper ring is whipped in above the handle.

Silk whippings are a delightful red. They were sealed with cellulose, which has yellowed and crazed slightly over the course of seventy years. This is absolutely to be expected and inevitable. Later B James rod whippings were sealed with shellac, which is much longer lasting. These whippings are typical of the very early B James rods and the intermediates are relatively broad and openly spaced. The varnish was applied by hand -you can tell because the rings aren’t covered in varnish. Later rods were dip varnished and their rings are always fully covered in varnish.

There are no transfers or decals. The rod was inscribed with Indian ink by James Bruce Snr, proprietor of B. James & Son. Richard Walker inscribed a small number of MK IVs that had the gold B James transfers applied. While Mr Bruce was waiting for the new transfers proposed by Richard Walker, he had almost certainly run out of the gold transfers and rather than going to the considerable trouble of delivering more rods to Walker to inscribe, he did the job himself. Such rods are exceedingly rare, and to find one in untouched original condition is absolutely incredible. I don’t expect to see another.

This really is a gorgeous piece from one of the earliest stages in the evolution of this iconic rod. I absolutely love it and personally vouch for its authenticity, quality and rarity.

When you consider everything that this rod represents, it is very good value and I think, a sound investment both emotionally and monetarily.