Friday, May 18, 2007

Fred Kerr and the Era of the Tackle List

Two things happened this week, almost simultaneously, that caused me to think about the subject of mailed Tackle Lists.

First, Fred Kerr, former president of the NFLCC, passed away this week. It is easy to tell from the enormous outpouring of support from the on-line collecting community that he was admired and respected by his friends and colleagues. Others who knew him far, far better than me are capable of commenting on his many accomplishments in life, but suffice to say he was one of the most important collectors of fishing tackle in America.

Second, I received a comprehensive tackle list from Bill McVeigh, current NFLCC president.

What do these two things have in common? What some new collectors might not know is that Fred issued a for sale tackle list for many years. Of course, anyone who joined the NFLCC after around 1999 probably doesn't remember this, but since I have been a member of the NFLCC since 1991, I remember well the days of the Tackle Mailing List. Nearly every week, I would receive a new list from an NFLCC member listing tackle for sale. I am looking right now at a 1995 NFLCC Gazette and see that for the price of a SASE you could get lists from The Fishermen's Bookshelf, John McGrath, Bill Jackson, Mike Johnson, Jerry Barrows, Highwood Bookshop, Karl Kozak, Ed Stilwell, Art McLeery, Steve Hays, W. Jackson, Joe Walkowski, Joe Mittler, Ed stillwell, and Kim Cherwin. This list did not include Fred Kerr, Dave Hoover, Lindy Egan, and others who mailed them out on a regular basis to all NFLCC members. Sometimes I would receive 75 lists per year (keeping in mind some sellers mailed out quarterly or even bi-monthly sales lists), and some of these lists were 30 or more pages each.

For a young collector, reading these lists was a revelation. We would match up what we had in our collection with items being sold, and for the first time had an idea of what the relative worth and scarcity of a particular item was. We bought from a few of the lists, and were happy (with one exception) with what we received. I remember well buying a Green Crackleback River Runt Spook Sinker for $25 from a list, a Troll Oreno for $20, a Whirl Oreno for $30. In the days before eBay and the internet, if you didn't find lures in the field this was the main source of new tackle (short of the NFLCC-sanctioned shows).

Fred will be missed for any number of reasons, but for me he symbolizes a by-gone era, a time when your mailbox could be counted on to bring the collecting world to you. Now that the collecting world has gone digital, it seems to have lost much of its personality.

For those who knew Fred and wish to comment on his passing, Click Here. I'm off to look over Bill McVeigh's Tackle List and think about times gone by.

--Dr. Todd

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