The back cover of the May 1919 issue of Field & Stream gives us today's advertisement from the South Bend Bait Company. The bulk of the ad has to do with the Bass-Oreno which is offered and illustrated in nine colors and available “With either treble or single detachable snapeye hooks --- each 75 cents.” One must remember that the “South Bend Wobbler” was introduced in 1915 and renamed the “Bass-Oreno” in 1916. This history can be accessed by Clicking Here.
Here we are in 1919, with only four years worth of sales under its belt and the bait is already presented as “the favorite of several hundred thousand anglers.” This is the bait that put the South Bend Bait Company “over the top” as far as its financial survivability. Some years later, Charles Heddon stated, in a letter to his plant manager, that what Heddon needed was a bait that did not lose its appeal with fishermen after a couple of seasons; one that had appeal and therefore sales, year after year like the South Bend Bass-Oreno!
I was in a local tackle shop the other day and the Bass-Oreno was sitting there on the shelf 96 years later, still being made and still offered for sale! To be honest the workmanship of those present day baits was pretty bad and close inspection showed that they were no longer being made in the United States. Users of vintage tackle and baits can rejoice as there is no end to the supply of older Bass-Orenos available for practically nothing at antique tackle shows. If you have not tried a Bass-Oreno or its smaller brother the Babe-Oreno, you might not expect the “dashing attractiveness, the sudden dive and peculiar wobble” as this ad puts it. Being wood there is some variation from one bait to the next but when you find a good one it can only be described as “very erratic” as it wobbles and snaps back and forth at the same time. I have noticed that when a bass hits it there is seldom a problem with “light hits”. Bass seem almost to get a “running start” and pile into it with everything they have and thus are solidly hooked almost always landed. When fishing is slow, there is one in my tackle box that comes out and more often than not it produces.
NFLCC Nationals saw the launch of five -- count 'em FIVE -- new titles on the history of fishing tackle from The Whitefish Press.
The first is Tom Jacomet and Dennis Boulais' much anticipated The Heddon River Runt Identification & Collector's Guide. The Limited Edition hardcover sold out in four days (it is spectacular) but now the gorgeous softcover is shipping! Early reviews are dynamite as this promises to be THE definitive work on the subject for the foreseeable future. It's $39.95 and you can learn more by Clicking Here.
The next book we launched was the first volume in the History of Illinois Fishing Tackle by Steve Lumpkin. This book--The Jointed River Minnow--covers the many permutations of this iconic style fishing lure, developed in Illinois. A few copies of the hardcover Limited Edition are still available. Trust me -- when the entire set is out it will be one of the finest tackle collecting resources ever published. The softcover is $39.95 and you can learn more by Clicking Here, and the Limited Edition Hardcover is $74.95 and can be found by Clicking Here
The third book we launched is an exceptionally detailed history of Bill Plummer fishing lures as well as the fishing lures of Harrison Industries, and was written by former Harrison Industries employee Tom Fusco. Some of Fusco's detailed history covers such popular lures as the Vivif, Rocky Minnow, Johnny O'Neill Weed Wing, Panther Martin, Cree-Duk, Vibra-Bat, and of course the Bill Plummer Bass Frog, as well as a number of spinning reels, rods, and terminal tackle. In my opinion it's the finest book yet published on a post-World War II tackle company. It is a thick softcover, and costs $39.95 and you can learn more by Clicking Here.
The fourth book launched at NFLCC Nationals--W.H. Dingley the Master Reelmaker--is a really amazingly detailed history of W.H. Dingley, England's most notable 20th century reelmaker. From Hardy's to Foster's to his own shop, Pat Garner and Brian Taylor cover every known detail about one of the most beloved reelmakers in history. The Limited Edition of 75 hardcovers sold out in six days, but the softcover (which has now shipped to 20 different countries) is available and $39.95. You can Click Here to learn more.
Last but not least, we have Brent Vonderheide's new book The Collector's Guide to Glass Minnow Traps. One of the nation's premier trap collectors, Vonderheide covers virtually every known glass minnow trap. With clear photos, descriptions, a value guide, and a detailed appendix chronicling the history of the glass minnow trap, this is the book that collectors have been wishing for! We sold out of this at NFLCC Nationals but now have more copies in to ship. The book is just $19.95 and you can learn more by Clicking Here.
Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.
For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!
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Trade House Tackle, Part 17:
J.C. Penney & Co.
James Cash Penney (1875-1971) founded the store that bore his name in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming. A lumberjack by trade, he saw the future of retailing long before most others, and by 1912 owned 34 stores across the Rocky Mountains. He began expanding eastward and by 1929 there were 1400 J.C. Penney stores nationwide. By this time the firm was grossing nearly $200,000,000.
As outlined a few weeks ago in our 52 for 52 article on General Merchandise of Milwaukee, J.C. Penney entered both the discount chain store world and the mail-order catalog market in 1962 when it purchased this Milwaukee innovator.
1962-1971 Penneys logo.
It was also at this time that the firm began to sell fishing tackle. Likely a result of General Merchandise's experience in this field, J.C. Penney & Co. began to hawk a full line of fishing tackle, including marked rods, reels, and assorted tackle.
Fishing rods seem to be the most common. In the 1960s, Penneys contracted with True Temper to make a line of exclusive rods for the firm. Here's a pair of these nice fiberglass True Temper/J.C. Penney fly rods.
Other than the fact these rods don't have enough guides, they are fine casting tools.
There is also a lot of marked Penneys fishing line out there. Here is a marked spool of monofilament line and a package of Penneys fly line. Both are from Penney's proprietary fishing tackle trade name, "Foremost."
Some of this tackle was sold through the mail; the following 1966 catalog pic shows the kinds of combos that could be purchased through mail order.
Finally, Penneys also sponsored fishing tackle contests and conservation movements, as seen in this pair of ca. 1970s fishing patches.
Penneys is still in business today and has 1000 stores located in every state. I believe they went out of the tackle business in the 1980s, but for a while they sold a fair amount of marked trade tackle. While none of it is rare, it does mark a nice footnote in Penneys history as yet another department store that trafficked in fishing tackle.
We are very excited to announce that after a brief hiatus, Ben Wright's ever popular Spinning Reel Report is back! Here is Ben's report for June 2011. Welcome back, Ben! And for those who don't have Ben's new book, you can read my review and order a copy by Clicking Here.
BEN WRIGHT'S SPINNING REEL REPORT
SUMMER SLOW DOWN ?? NOT YET !!!
A rare Alcedo 2C/S w/flying bird on medallion exc- sold @ 409.08
Early English marked M.C. 204 Carswell prototype ??
exc- sold @ 491.67
Abumatic 130 CF nib @ 122.50
507 Semi closed face second version nib @ 311.98 WOW
4X nib @ 255.81
6X ewb @ 337.84
Alcedo Oceanic exc- @ 274.66
Zangi prototype only marked Made in Italy exc @ 153.02
Orvis 100S nib @ 199.37 wow
Sears 300 Zangi exc @ 71.00
Wright & Mcgill ECR by Ofmer ewb @ 46.07
300DL exc+ @ 475.00 only one bid!
408 nib @ 162.49
440alc nib @ 110.56
5570 nib @ 104.50
Set of 4--- Prisu 4, Cap, 304 and VIPER same as 304
all exc to exc- @192.50
BLACK 710 exc- @ only 32.89 Deal!
420SS nib starting @ 255.00 no bids
Two Drag knobs only nip @ 42.00
Spool only fo cardinal 4 second version exc+ @ 35.00
Cardinal 4 second version exc+ @ only 71.00
Rogue 150 exc @ 129.50
JC Higgins 535-42110 by Shakespeare exc+ @ only 18.49
Hel-I-Caster slight wear on foot @ 61.08
Rite Angler exc @ only 26.77
Ocean City 350 yellow exc @ 46.00
" " " " " " 71.00
Van Staal VS300 original Black second version exc @ 475.00
Have a great 4th of July !!
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Today's ad from the April 1938 issue of Outdoor Life features six “Dingbats” from the Creek Chub Bait Company. Careful reading of the ad shows that the “New Dingbat” has been out for “more than a year”. The “Midget Dingbat”, the “Musky Dingbat”, the “Surface Dingbat” and the two sizes of “Flyrod Dingbats” are all presented as “new” baits for 1938.
Though familiar with the more recent use of the term”Dingbat” as popularized by Archie Bunker, I attempted to find the origin of the word by consulting more than a half dozen on-line dictionaries. I wish these folks could come up with some common consensus on where this word comes from. Seems back in the 1830's is was an alcoholic drink. Since that time it has had several meanings including: a simple design used by Printers to separate paragraphs as well as outline pages, objects thrown at others and several meanings that involve subjects not appropriate for children or this website. The more recent meaning, that of “a foolish person”, seems to have been around for at least 80 years.
What most “Creek Chub” collectors would really like to know is how the name was selected for this somewhat distinctive bait. That question was answered in detail by Ron Mathews in an article in the June 2010 NFLCC Gazette. "Dingbat" was the nickname of the boyfriend, and later the husband, of a longtime Creek Chub employee.
For the complete story, check out Ron's fine article.
I have met several folks (mostly older fishermen who were fishing in the 1940's and 1950's) who were very impressed with the Dingbat's ability to catch larger bass. Recently there has been an enthusiastic revival, by many collectors, in the use of vintage equipment and baits in bass fishing. I have seen a couple of strong testimonials on Joe's Board as to the fishing catching powers of the Dingbat. There was an article in Sporting Classics magazine in the early 1980's entitled: “Forgotten Favorites” (or something close to that). It discussed plugs that were no longer made that had good reputations as fish catchers with those who used them. Among the baits featured there was a strong endorsement for the Surface Dingbat as good medicine for very large Smallmouth Bass. I must admit, in trying old baits I have never given the Dingbats (underwater or surface) a very lengthy test. Both always seemed somewhat air-resistant when cast and I never got the hang of making the Surface Dingbat do anything really exciting on top of the water. I hope ignoring these famous baits while experimenting with “old plugs” does not make me qualify as a “Dingbat”.