Saturday, May 28, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Benjamin F. Burgess and the Burgess Weedless Hook

Benjamin F. Burgess and the Burgess Weedless Hook

Todays ad comes from the June, 1903 issue of Field & Stream. Most collectors are familiar with the Burgess Weedless Hook as well as the various spinners that come attached to it on occasion. There are commonly held misconceptions regarding B. F. Burgess, his hook and associated products.

Benjamin Franklin Burgess was the son of William K. Burgess who fought in the War of 1812. When B. F. Burgess was 26, he and his father moved to Michigan in 1861. Benjamin married and lived the remainder of his life in Jackson County Michigan. His only son died at age 12 in 1883. Mr. Burgess held several public sector jobs including Justice of the Peace and Deputy Registrar of Deeds. He filed for a patent on his weedless hook and the patent was granted February 26 1895. The first witness to sign the patent application was Hull G. Sutton of Jackson, Michigan. In 1896 the first listing for the Burgess Weedless Hook Company appeared in the Jackson City Directory with Mr Sutton as President and B. F. Burgess as Secretary and Treasurer. In 1901 Mr. Burgess became “Overseer of the Poor” and the Burgess Weedless Hook Company disappeared from the City Directory. B. F. Burgess was 66 years old at this point. He passed away in 1912 at the age of 77 and is buried next to his father in the Norvell, Michigan cemetery.

In the mean time, in 1902, the Burgess Weedless Hook Company re-emerged under new ownership and went through a quick series of owners before being taken over by Clarence E. Markam in 1904. Markam continued to be listed as manger until the Company disappeared during World War One. Markam also worked during this period as a bank teller and auditor and by 1914 was Jackson City Auditor. It was under Markam's management that the Company developed an extensive line of spinners and bucktails featuring the Burgess Weedless Hook. Around 1912 Markam marketed the Burgess Wooden Minnow. The quality of this bait is so pathetic that few seem to have ever been sold. In 1913 Makam marketed “Markam's Ball Bait” which we covered in an earlier edition of “Deconstructing of Ads” which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

The number of Burgess Weedless hooks found in old tackle boxes would indicate that sales were good around the weedy lakes of Southern Michigan. The plated spinners bearing the Patent date Feb. 26, 1895 continue to catch the attention of collectors today even though the vast majority were made well after B.F. Burgess' involvement in the Company.

Two very early examples of Burgess Weedless hooks with unplated spinners.

-- Bill Sonnett

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