Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Review of Doug Carpenter's There's Something About A Jinx

A Review of Doug Carpenter's There's Something About A Jinx

Many collectors and historians are so preoccupied with the big boys--the Heddons and Pfluegers and Shakespeares--that they often overlook the mid-sized tackle companies that often sold their wares for decades. These companies and their histories are largely unknown; indeed, the fact that we know as much as we do (and it isn't a lot) is due mainly to the NFLCC Magazine and its sister publication The NFLCC Gazette.


A Classic American Bait: The Rinehart Jinx

The Fred Rinehart Tackle Company of Newark, Ohio (and other, later addresses) is just such a firm. They produced a huge number of lures in a bewildering variety of styles and colors over a long period of time, yet little is known of the company's history and production. Fortunately for us, Cecil Douglas Carpenter has penned a great new work entitled There's Something About A Jinx: The Fred Rinehart Tackle Company (Self-Published, December, 2007) that fills in many of the gaps in the history of this interesting firm.

Fred Rinehart fishing tackle was manufactured from approximately 1937 to 1962, and as the reader will discover, the company had a very distinct periodization. Many might be surprised to discover that the company had its start making a line of foam rubber fly rod lures called "Naturalife." By 1940 or so, Fred launched the lure that would make his name famous: the Rinehart Jinx. This lure was eventually manufactured in three sizes and over 100 colors, making it one of the most popular and collectible of lures from the plastic/tenite era. Other Rinehart lures followed in the wake of the Jinx, including the Buzer, Chief, Toper and Chuby, but they never quite achieved the popularity of the original. The company was sold in 1957 and moved to Gahanna, Ohio, then sold again and moved to Marietta, OH where it was finally closed in 1962 a quarter century after it began.

After some limited background history, the book hits its real strength, which are the hundreds of full color photographs that show the design permutations, color schemes, and other details of the various Rinehart lures. The number of colors that the Jinx was available in is almost unbelievable, yet nearly all of them are clearly distinguishable as a Rinehart product once one knows what to look for (as if the distinct Rinehart profile was not enough of a hint).

The book has many merits, and the crisp and clear color photography is right at the top. Almost every known catalog, box, brochure and advertisement has been included, and offer greater depth to the Rinehart story. It is difficult to imagine a more complete overview of design changes and colors could ever be compiled. The only detraction is that the history is a bit scant; while most people will probably buy the book for the impressively complete color codes, there are parts of Fred Rinehart's story missing. I had been working on a short biography of Fred Rinehart when I met Doug at the Cincinnati show last September, and unfortunately was unable to provide this information to him before the book went to press.

The 300-page softcover book is full color throughout, and was printed in a very limited run so anyone who desires a copy will definitely want to reserve one ASAP. It is definitely the kind of book you will regret not owning in a year, or two, or three, and as a copy recently sold for over 50% list price on eBay, you will definitely pay much, much more for this work in the near future--if you can even find a copy, that is. Don't forget the hard lesson learned from Mitchell reel collectors, who regularly have to pay $500 or more for Dennis Mitchell's history of the firm.

Hopefully this work will spur others with similar knowledge of mid and smaller-sized tackle companies to compile the information in book form. There's Something About A Jinx is among the most comprehensive histories of a medium-sized tackle company in recent memory, and well worth the price.

-- Dr. Todd from Otter Tail Lake, Minnesota

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