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19th Century Eagle Claw Fish And Animal Trap A Prized Rarity Image Credit: FUR-FISH-GAME
19th Century Eagle Claw Fish And Animal Trap A Prized Rarity Image Credit: FUR-FISH-GAME

19th Century Eagle Claw Fish And Animal Trap A Prized Rarity

Antique Trap Collecting

Tom Parr

Philadelphia machinist Benjamin Smith patented what is known as the Eagle Claw trap in 1877. S.W. Evans & Son of Frankford, Pennsylvania, manufactured the trap. Evans first made metal parts for umbrella frames but later branched out to produce a variety of items including knife sharpeners, knitting spool winders, and the Eagle Claw trap. During World War II, the firm made rifle grenades and bomb fuses.

Most of the Eagle Claw Traps I have seen had Pat. Apl. 17-77 E.W. Evans & Son Frankford PA stamped on the brass base.

The trap is set by holding the round base in one hand, grabbing the ring with your other hand and pulling, which causes the wire “claws” to open like an umbrella. Then the trigger is set, holding the claws open. Bait the hook, and the trap is ready for action.

In an 1877 magazine advertisement, Chas. L. Coate of Brooklyn, New York, promoted the trap with the following:

An ingenious device for the purpose of catching all kinds of Animals, Fish, and Game … It may be buried flat in the ground, suspended from the limb of a tree, or covered with grass, leaves or other light material without in any way impairing its certain operation. It is adapted for bait of any description …”

No. 1 for fishing and all kinds of small game and animals (3 inches overall excluding ring). No. 2 for catching mink, muskrat, raccoons, large game, fish, etc. (4 inches overall excluding


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