Saturday, July 9, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Mr. McCormic's Mermaid (1919)

Mr. McCormic's Mermaid

This ad from the May, 1919 issue of Field & Stream is for the McCormic Mermaid Bait from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

A careful reading tells us that it already has “three seasons of sensational catches” under its belt. This is confirmed in the 1916 Shakespeare catalog where is is shown for sale in the section featuring baits from many different manufacturers. If one is familiar with the shallow, natural lakes that abound in southern Michigan, one can see the appeal of a bait that is advertised to “wiggle enticingly on the surface, dives and swims with an easy, rocking, side to side and up and down motion, or with quick, wiggling darts like a frightened minnow, one to ten inches deep”. Then comes that most pregnant of statements: “Practically Weedless.” Some time following this ad Mr. McCormic appears to have sold the rights to the bait to the “Big Guy” across town, the Shakespeare Company. By 1924 Shakespeare took the Mermaid body, slimmed it down, added a diving lip and called it the “Bass-A-Lure.”

In 1919 that most prolific of promoters, Dixie Carroll, featured the McCormic Mermaid in his book Fishing Tackle and Kits. The following write-up in the book tells me the Dixie had something to do with writing today's featured ad. Also included here is the black and white photo plate from the 1919 book showing the McCormic Mermaid as lure number 8.

-- Bill Sonnett

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