Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett
Holy Decoys, Batwing!
When lure collecting first started, folks had great difficulty sorting out the products of even large manufacturers. The first catalog appearance of a Heddon Ice Decoy was in 1913 and was what we think of as the rare, but standard "Woodtail Batwing" decoy.
On the Heddon factory board was a woodtail decoy that had small triangular wings and fins rather than the large (and adjustable) wings found on the "Batwing." I was assumed that this was an "experimental" decoy that never went into production. Over the years a very few more were found in the field, but it was not until advertising from 1912 was found (as best I can recall) about 15 years ago that it was realized that we were looking at the very first production Heddon Ice Decoys. The following ad is from the 1912 magazine Hunter, Trader, Trapper.
As you can see from the photo of this beautiful pair owned by Paul Buethe, not all have the same number of fins.
Which one came first, I do not know. One can assume however that Heddon had some real problems with the Ice Decoy as it went through many chances in a very short period of time. At least three variations of hardware are found on the first wood-tailed body. By far the rarest are these first versions.
Making a spearing decoy that swims well is a lot more complicated than it looks.
-- Bill Sonnett