The Fishing Lure Collector
Like many anglers I have become fascinated in fishing lures especially the nostalgic lures I remember from my uncles and fathers tackle boxes that I was forbidden to touch as a child. I have picked up a few old lures at flea markets and garage sales, but I never gave much thought about becoming a serious collector until recently when I met Mike Dolinich and Lori Turner, who are serious collectors of vintage and novelty lures.
Mike and Lori shared with me some information and tips about collecting. They were more than happy for me to share this information with other anglers that have an interest in collecting vintage fishing lures. The two shared the things that a serious antique collector should know about lures with me, and invited me to photograph their collection as well. During our visit it was impressed upon me three things of importance for new collectors, the company names, who to buy from and sell to and to have an understanding of the value of the lures you collect in terms of buying and selling. Mike was not only kind and patient enough to share these tips with me, but he gave me a couple of collectors guides to assist me in helping new collectors get a start in the hobby.
In the early days of manufactured lures few companies were available across the nation. Getting to know the widely recognized names is a good starting place to begin and then learning as much as you can about them. One of the most recognizable names is Heddon. At an antique lure dealer, or a convention, Heddon is known by all. As one of the first big companies, it is good to learn about Heddon lures. Pictured below is Mike’s impressive collection of Heddon lures.
Another name to know is Shakespeare. They developed unique innovations in their lures and their importance in the early days was instrumental to the popularity of artificial baits. Other companies like Bomber and Creek-Chub also made lures that are now sought after by collectors. It is these two lures that caught the world record smallmouth and largemouth bass that helped to boost the industry in the golden age of bass fishing. The best way to begin collecting is to learn the more propionate names in the industry and what plugs they produced.
To find opportunities and to protect you from being ripped off, it is a good idea to network with other collectors. By making friends with collectors you have a support group that you can go to for advice when you find a lure that you are not certain about before you buy it. There are national organizations like the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club or NFLCC that is made up of dealers and collectors located all over, and their members are glad to help and answer questions about lures and collecting. If you can locate a local tackle collector you can ask advice as well as help them to find lures they are seeking as well.
Just because a lure is old does not mean it is worth a lot of money. Newer lures can be worth a lot as well. Novelty lures, just like vintage ones can be worth several dollars. An important part of collecting is to be able to determine the value of a lure.
Many things can help determine value in a fishing lure and demand is the one that will driver a price up. A big demand for a particular lure that was made in limited quantities by a small, and several collectors want the lure a higher price is the result. Learn the hot limited supply lures; even if you can afford one, you never know what will turn up at a garage sale. Knowing the current market prices of common lures will help protect you from paying too much. It will also help you recognize when something is priced too low.
The knowledge of the importance of the brand names, prices and a support network is a valuable part of collecting. Chances are there are lure collectors near you wherever you are. And the next time you are at an auction or garage sale and see a lure you’ll know if you are looking at a treasure or a common lure. For many anglers all lures are treasures. Antique lures as well as novelty lures can open a new door and a hobby to an angler. Special thanks to Mike Dolinich and Lori Turner for their help.
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