Wednesday, July 31, 2013

REVIEW: David Sawyer's The Heddon Vamp #7500, 1920-1955

The Heddon Vamp is one of the iconic fishing lures of the twentieth century, selling millions of baits in a number of sizes and spawning legions of fishing fans and collectors. It's also one of the few books to spawn not one but two detailed books, the first about a decade ago by Dennis Boulais (now out of print) and the most recent by collector David Sawyer, entitled The Heddon Vamp #7500, 1920-1955. It details almost everything you would possibly want to know about the #7500.

The book starts with a discussion of Vamp Boxes, then moves on to lips, hardware, belly weights, etc. until it finally reaches the 22 types of #7500 identified by the author. It then breaks them down by style, and then moves on to color. It is the color section that is most impressive, breaking such common colors as Pike Scale down into a bewildering variety of variations.

The book uses large landscape portraits in full color of the lures, catalog cuts, and ephemera. The liberal use of color helps the author to identify characteristics of styles and paint schemes that are easy to overlook.

One of the things non-Vamp collectors can learn from this book are the general bits about Heddon history interspersed throughout the book, including interesting commentary on Jeanette Hawley and the fate of Heddon's Factory 2nds.

As I always do with self-published books, I will avoid a critical analysis of the layout, design, and copy editing as the book was a labor of love and should not be held to the same standard as a book produced by a professional publishing house. That being said, other than the use of some low resolution images that came out pixelated (a common and understandable problem in books that utilize multiple resources for source material), I was pleasantly surprised with the book. It's a hardcover and 278 pages in length, and I believe that any Heddon fan -- whether you are a Vamp collector or not -- should have a copy for their library. If you read this book and say you haven't learned anything, you either aren't telling the truth or you need to go back and start over again.

As an added bonus, the author's great-grandfather was featured in the 1941 catalog posing with two fish caught on one cast. I imagine that David Sawyer's great-grandfather would be proud of his great-grandson's creation. After all, it's clear that Heddon runs in this family's blood.

The book is available directly from the author through his web site which you can visit Clicking Here. You better hurry, though, as there are less than 30 copies left!

-- Dr. Todd

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