Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett
Heddon's first Ads
For many years the ad shown here from the August 1902 issue of Field & Stream was the earliest Heddon ad that I was able to find. Then fellow researcher Jerry Martin came up with the following ad and accompanying write-up from the July 5, 1902 issue of The Sportsman's Review. As many students of early Heddon history know, Heddon put out two catalogs their first season. The first is known as the "one lure" catalog as there is only one lure shown. In these ads it is named the "Dowagiac Perfect Surface Casting Bait."
The second catalog is known as the "three lure" catalog as it contains an additional two lures: the "Dowagiac No. 2" (four-hook "slopenose") and the "Dowagiac Underwater" (with hanging belly weight). Sometime between the two catalogs Heddon decided to change the name of their lure from the "Dowagiac Perfect Surface Casting Bait" to the "Dowagiac Expert." This was clearly to play off the success of the best selling wooden minnow of the day, the F. C. Woods "Expert." Charles Heddon testified in court some years later that when the Heddon company started they considered F.C. Woods to be their "stiffest competition."
Those first "Perfect Surface Casting Baits" are believed to be the "rimless-cup slopenoses" that are so coveted by today's collectors. By the time of the second 1902 catalog, the "Dowagiac Underwater" (with hanging belly weight) featured rimmed, gold-washed cups and we must assume so did the newly renamed "Dowagiac Expert." The forward to the 1903 Heddon catalog claims they made 6000 baits in 1902. If this is true, very few have survived as they are all very hard to find.
-- Bill Sonnett