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A Field Guide To Antique Fishing Lures

Louis Johnson lures were made in Chicago. This is a 'gold' silver spoon.
Louis Johnson lures were made in Chicago. This is a 'gold' silver spoon.

Out at the Kane County Flea Market a few weeks back, your Chicago Treasure Hunting Examiner happened upon the find of the day: A box of old wooden Heddon, Pflueger and assorted other lures for the flat rate of $40! In addition, there were boxed spoons, rubber frogs and even a carded hook in the litter. As a local point of interest, most of these lures were made in the Michigan (Dowagiac) and Indiana (South Bend) vicinity. So he tossed a pair of twenties, grabbed the box and made for the door.

What exactly attracted him to this shoebox of ‘fished’ (ie: used) vintage equipment? Well, the color scheme on a couple of the wooden lures caught his eye. They were in relatively nice shape too. Wooden bodies with real glass eyes date the manufacture of any lure to the late 1940s/early 1950s time period at the youngest. Rubber frogs have been known to generate collector interest as well. The attraction was in all those points coupled with an irresistible price point ($40 for 10 items = $4 per lure).

When you find a tackle box for sale out on the hunt, look for age first. Keep in mind that mass produced lures started appearing on the market in the 1800s. Finding them that old is a question of luck and savvy. But the great finds aren’t limited to wooden bodies and glass eyes. There are some very desirable all-metal lures from the turn of the last century. Look for dated engineering and/or styling. Plastic lures started appearing during the 1950s and some of those are very desirable. But the modern day stuff (made after the 1960s) is strictly for casting. Not collecting. Avoid all day-glo colors.

You should know that one of the lures your Treasure Hunter reeled in a Kane paid for the rest, and then some. View the accompanying slide show and try to guess which one did the trick.