Saturday, August 20, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Head Lights, Tail Lights & Chrome On Each End (1915)

Head Lights, Tail Lights & Chrome On Each End

Within the past few months I opened a current copy of Field & Stream and looked at a full page ad for a fishing lure with an electric light inside. Naturally it claimed to be a “new idea” and went on to state that it had been “ruled legal in 49 States” It did not tell me what, if any, State had ruled it illegal or that it was not in fact legal in all 50 States, This reminds me if the flyrod lure that advertised it had been declared “Illegal in Yellowstone Park”, The reader of course is left to assume that its “illegal” status must be due to it's fish killing potential.

Today's ad comes from the July 1915 issue of National Sportsman and presents a new twist to the countless versions of internally lighted fishing lures that have been presented to the public in the last 100 years. The “Electric Luminous Submarine Bait” features tail lights as well as a head light and optional nickel spinners on each end. I do not recall ever seeing the “tail light” option being offered on other such baits.

The price of this bait puts it well out of reach of the average fisherman in 1915. At $1.50 for the strip-down model and $2 for the one with spinners and weedless hooks, this must rate as one of the most expensive baits offered to the public at that time. The advertised statement that the bait would be effective, “among the lily-pads” left me wondering if I would want to throw such an expensive bait into harms way. Just out of curiosity, I did a check on what $2 in 1915 would be equivalent to in 2011 and the result was $43.40! Yikes!, no wonder they didn't sell many. The last advertisement I've seen for this bait was in 1916 and it contained one of the most understated claims ever seen in fishing lure advertising. In a field where routinely a bait is proclaimed “the greatest fishing lure ever made” the 1916 ad merely says, “tried out and prooven good.”

-- Bill Sonnett

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