Recently Chuck Julian posted this great information about the Evans Weed Queen on Joe's Board. Unfortunately, it scrolled off the board into oblivion, so I asked Chuck if it was possible to repost it here on Fishing for History. He was kind enough to agree, so here is his post, along with some information I found to flesh out the Weed Queen a bit more.
I have discovered a little bit about the Evans Weed Queen that you might find interesting. Inside the package is a patent number (1994168) for the lure and the name E.S. Evans and Sons, 259 Vinewood, Detroit, Michigan.
The patent was taken out by John Boyko of Hamtrack, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit (the patent can be viewed online). Mr. Boyko also has several other patents to his name that mostly deal with latching mechanisms for power conveyors, such as the type used in assembly lines. One of those was assigned to the Jervis B. Webb Company of Detroit.
Mr. Boyko assigned 1/2 of the Automatic Fishing Lure patent to Wadah Koury (I have found nothing about him). The patent was applied for in 1934 and granted in 1935.
The Evans Weed Queen was manufactured by the E.S. Evans and Sons Co. of Detroit. One of the Evans sons was Robert B. Evans. Mr. Evans was a business investor and also an inventor. From what I could see, none of his inventions ever made it but he did assign one (a windshield wiper heater) to E.S. Evans and Sons. He is reputed to say that he was in the business of making failing companies into profitable ones (NY Times obituary).
He was also known as an avid sportsman. In 1965, the then millionaire Evans became American Motors Corporation's largest stock holder and was elected chairman of the board in 1967. Mr. Evans changed the direction of the company and had them develop the Javelin, AMX, Pacer and other innovative vehicles. He said that the company should not be following the other auto companies but developing its own product.
At some point in time, E.S.Evans and Sons must have obtained the patent for the lure and named it the Evans Weed Queen. I don't know if the Evans Walton Company was involved. I don't know if they purchased a company that owned the patent, if they just purchased the patent or merely paid Mr. Boyko and Mr. Koury a royalty.
On the slip of paper in a Weed Queen lure box, the printed name for the company is E.S. Evans and Sons but that piece of paper is also stamped on the back with Evans-Walton Co. Clearly, they were a successor to E.S. Evans and Sons in the sales of these lures. The only thing that I found on them was an old ad for paint repair tape. If you had a scratch in your car paint, you could put this tape of the same color on top of the scratch. It is likely another of the Evans' Family businesses. I am not able to figure out how to look those old businesses up in a registry somewhere. I have sent requests to Wayne County but have not had any reply. They might not keep info that far back.
I don't know how Neptune Bait figures into the mix. I have tried contacting John Boyko Jr. and Robert B. Evans Jr. to see what they know. Neither has replied. I am pretty sure I have the right Evans but not sure on Boyko.
I corresponded with Rob Pavey who says that Kingfisher did not have a spring loaded mechanical lure in their catalog and that they were a brand name of the Edward Tryon Co. of Philadelphia. He says that they only sold other peoples baits under their brand name and didn't manufacture anything.
The Neptune Bait lures that I have are wood with glass eyes on top of a steel frame. In the book, Made In Michigan Fishing Lures II, by George Richey, Mr. Richey says that the lures were first made by the Neptune Bait Co in the late '20s or early '30s. After several changes, the lures became the Evans Weed Queen. Mr. Richey emphasizes that Neptune came first. If he is right, the Evans family may have purchased the Neptune Bait Company, closed it and then started manufacturing the lure with their own company, renaming it and better packaging it. That is just speculation on my part.
I spoke to George's brother David Richey, as George has passed away. David said that he didn't know any of the details but said that if George said it in the book, he had good reason. David said that George didn't like to speculate. He only printed what he was convinced was true and that he was a pretty thorough researcher.
Rob Pavey says that he disagrees with George. He says that the card and graphics on the Neptune card are consistent with 1950s era printing, not 1920s/30s but also says that this is just his opinion. He does say that he thinks that, "they are cool baits regardless of which decade they were made."
NOTE FROM DR. TODD
Thanks, Claude, as this is all very interesting!
I can add just a few details to the article. The magazine Motor Age declares that the Evans-Walton Co. was formed in 1935 to "handle the manufacture and sale of products developed by E.S. Evans & Sons," which gives us a hard date for the name change. R.B. Evans was President and Thomas R. Walton was named Vice-President of the new firm, located at 243 West Congress Street. Thus the new firm was a subsidiary of the older Evans & Sons company. By 1937, the firm was receiving patent protection for a new "siccative coating for metal surfaces." By the end of World War II it had morphed into the Evans Manufacturing Company.
John Boyko of Hamtrack (later Baseline and Detroit), Michigan was later an engineer and executive for the John Boyko Engineering Company who served on the Board of Directors for the Christian Business Men's Committee and the Detroit Bible Institute. Of interest is that he also played quarterback for both Notre Dame and Michigan State in the 1920s.
All I could find on Wadah Koury was that he was born in 1906 in Lebanon (one of five children) and died in 1987, having lived most of his life in Detroit, Michigan. Perhaps he was an employee or co-worker of Boyko's.
Like Rob Pavey, I also believe the Neptune post-dated the Evans Weed Queen (it certainly could NOT have been a product of the 1920s as the patent was not applied for until 1934). Neptune Bait Co. was listed at 6870 East Davison in Detroit (an address later used by the Rickard Manufacturing Co.). I believe, however, they are ca. 1940. I do not know how the Weed Queen changed hands, but I am betting it is an interesting story.
Anyone with anything else to add?
-- Dr. Todd