Section: R; # 17
Born: August 4, 1801
Died: May 25, 1877
Samuel Phillippe is still respected in fly-fishing circles today. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and came to Easton while in his teens. He learned gunsmithing and opened his own shop after an apprenticeship, calling himself a gunsmith and locksmith. Over time his skills expanded to include making and playing violins. His instruments were well regarded; in 1846 one of his violins won an award at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute exhibition where a guitar from the Nazareth shop of C.F. Martin was also highly praised by the judges.
Phillippe’s great contribution to the anglers of the world was perfecting the split bamboo fly-rod in the 1840’s. His technique of gluing strips of bamboo together provided the ideal combination of weight and casting action, revolutionizing the science and sport of angling. This flexible rod made casting for trout or other freshwater fish more accurate and pleasurable and is still used today by many serious fly-fisherman.
Near South Third and Pine Streets in downtown Easton is a historical marker with the following inscription: “Samuel Phillippe – recognized as the inventor of the split-bamboo fishing rod in the U. S. His first rent and glued-up cane rod was made about 1846 in his gunsmith shop that stood on this site.”
His son Solon C. joined him in business around 1873 and he continued the business after Samuel’s death from pneumonia in 1877. Although the Sigal Museum does have a rod made by Solon, none of Samuel’s are known to exist.