By Nick Carter
Looking for a last minute gift for the angler who has everything? How about a set of lightly used Chippewa lures? For a bargain price at auction of just under $20,000, these three plugs with integrated spinners would be the pride and joy of any angler’s tackle vault.
Actually, there’s probably no chance the lucky bidder would ever part with them. When these lures sold at auction in October, they were part of a collection that grossed more than $130,000. Welcome to the world of antique, collectible fishing lures. It’ll make you think twice about throwing out the old tackle in your grandpa’s shed.
The three Chippewa spinner lures were made around 1910 by Immell Bait & Tackle Company, according to a release from Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. They look like they might catch a fish, and they certainly caught the attention of collectors. One of them, a wooden Chippewa in its original box with a green back and spotted sides was said to be in very good condition. It sold for the U.S. equivalent of about $7,665. The other two Chippewas sold for more than $5,000 each.
Another lure in the collection featured a unique design that apparently never caught on. The Lurette No. 2 lure, made by Canada Needle & Fishing Tackle, is a diving bell for live bait. With a glass bulb surrounded by hooks, worms or crayfish could nestle safely inside while luring in fish on looks alone. Although collectors went crazy over this one, driving the auction price up to well over $3,000, any angler would understand why it is in “superb shape,” still in the box. No one ever fished it. The Lurette No. 2 might have been innovative, but it definitely wouldn’t qualify as anyone’s “confidence” lure.
Finally, and this just beats all, a 1930s-era Vaughn’s lure box sold for more than $1,600. There was no lure in the box. It was just a cardboard box with some instructions. It’s nice to imagine the lure itself met a more fitting fate. It could have been ripped from the line by the jaws of a big northern pike, or it might still be hanging from a high limb of stately old oak.