Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett
More South Bend
One of the most difficult Companies to research the early history of was the South Bend Bait Company. Like most early companies they changed their hardware several times in the first few years. Walter Blue told me many years ago the key to sorting out the history of early minnows would be the hardware. He was very right. In the case of South Bend, as most others, it was no great task to put early minnows in order, but it was difficult to assign dates to the different types of hardware. The end of a long effort took the form of an article in the June 2000 issue of the NFLCC Magazine entitled "Before the Bass Oreno."
Early illustrations in catalogs are often carried forward after changes have been made but photos don't lie. The first ad here appeared in the June 1912 Sporting Goods Dealer and featured two counter displays that any collector would die for. More importantly to me, it show beyond any doubt that by 1912 South Bend had moved beyond their use of the Shakespeare "B-notch" spinner and were now using South Bend's second style spinner.
A year later in the May 1913 issue of Outer's Book there appeared an article entitled "Bass Lures I Have Met. Among the photos of various plugs was the following. At the top are three Combination Minnows that are identified as "New South Bends." Most importantly to me they featured the third style of spinner that South Bend used.
These, along with other photographic evidence allowed me to construct the following chart showing the progression and approximate dates for the first five types of spinners used on South Bend wooden minnows from 1910 through 1916. As in most other companies changes came much more slowly after that initial burst of experimentation and development.
-- Bill Sonnett