B. James & Son Richard Walker MK IV ‘Signature Rod’ c1952

An ultra-rare MK IV carp rod inscribed by Richard Walker in very fine original condition.


This is, aside from the rods built by Richard Walker himself, the Holy Grail of MK IV carp rods.

The B James MK IV carp rod chronology is as follows: In 1952, James Bruce Snr, proprietor of B. James & Son, submitted a MK IV carp rod to Richard Walker for his assessment. He wrote to Mr Bruce to suggest some small changes he felt should be made before the rods went into production. He was especially direct in his criticism of the Indian ink inscription, telling Mr Bruce that his handwriting was terrible (-there are a few other MK IVs with Richard Walker MK IV written on them by James Bruce Snr, also bearing the gold ‘Built To Endure’ and ‘B James & Son decals. Clearly, B. James & Son had made a batch or two for sale before Walker expressed his views about the quality of the handwriting). He suggested that transfers of his signature should be arranged, and in the meantime, he would sign the rods produced, giving customers the satisfaction of knowing that he’d personally inspected their rods.

As these rods had to be taken from Ealing to Walker’s home in Hitchin, quite a faff, it is thought that perhaps two dozen rods were signed. Thereafter, Mr Bruce dealt with the inscriptions himself before the transfers were produced and applied. Only a dozen or so ‘Walker Signature’ rods are known of today.

We have seen a very few MK IVs that have no transfers at all (see above) but instead bear Indian ink inscriptions applied by James Bruce. It is probable that he had finally run out of his original gold decals and was still waiting for the new transfers. I have not seen any other models by B. James with these gold decals from the period after the earliest MK IVs, so this seems to be a reasonable conclusion.

I have seen (and sold) a Signature MK IV whipped with black and yellow (actually black and white -the white quickly became yellow-gold due to the yellowing of the varnish), another that was whipped with red silk, one whipped with medium green silk and this one, which is whipped with very dark green silk. I believe this to be Perrivale Imperial shade 684. Typically for these very early rods, the intermediates are quite broad, openly spaced and probably applied in-house.

The butt ring, and 2nd ring on the butt are agate lined nickel sliver, as is the tip ring. The 1st MK IV ever made by B James & Son (which we recently sold) also had an agate & nickel sliver 2nd ring and it was a feature of very early Avocets too. The intermediate rings are bronzed high carbon steel of a pattern that was used on only the very earliest MK IVs and very early Avocets. The original hook keeper ring is present, whipped in above the handle top.

The blank is Southwell-built. The sections are remarkably straight and sound.

The 28″ cork handle has the usual subtly flared top and the fittings are from W R Products of Shepherd’s Bush. The red rubber button is the correct 1½” diameter.

The ferrules are bronzed brass. The female ferrule, which has its original hardwood stopper, has a reinforcing barrel and the male has a spigot.

The rod has its original cloth bag, which is in very good condition.

At some stage a coat of yacht varnish has been applied to the rod. This has been very well done and has preserved the original finish.

An extraordinarily rare rod in complete and very good original condition, it has its perfectly preserved Walker signature and gold decals. Your collection is not complete without it.