Although little is known about the K. & K. Animated Minnow, “The Minnow That Swims” is thought to be the first jointed, articulated “swim bait” commercially produced. The K. & K. Animated Minnow was granted patent number 857,883 on June 25, 1907, to inventor John D. Kreisser of Cincinnati, Ohio. He began making the lures in 1905, and applied for a patent on January 8, 1906. Although the original patent drawing shows three sections hinged together, the production minnows were only made with two sections. Mr. Kreisser was very confident in his invention, as he so stated in his patent application, “By the use of my animated minnow, the alluring devices, spinning and rotating spoons and other artificial bait now used in game fishing and the live minnow itself are all dispensed with as my animated minnow combines the advantages of them all in a perfect bait.”
The lures were produced by the K. & K. Manufacturing Company in Toledo, Ohio, beginning in 1907, and at some point in time were produced in Boston, Massachusetts by William Read & Sons, until about 1916. They had two wooden body sections hinged together in the center by opposite facing eyelets, with a metal tail inserted into a slot cut into the wooden tail section. They were made in a variety of sizes for all types of game fish, ranging from the slender bodied 3” “Minnoette”, as shown in the photo here, to various 3-1/2”, 4” and 4-1/2” models, ranging from surface lures to deep sinking trolling lures. They were available in various color patterns such as golden shiner, silver shiner, black and silver, green and silver, black and red, rainbow, solid white and solid red. Note the beautiful “cross hatch” design etched into the paint on the back and sides of the “Minnoette” in the photo, giving it a realistic scale pattern which also resembles the box label drawing. They all had over-sized yellow “egg yolk” glass eyes with big black pupils and double hooks that were held in place close to the lure body with pins, until a fish struck. A few old catalogs list a 5-1/2” Musky size, but I am not sure if any have ever been found.
“Swim baits” are still very popular today, but they are merely new twists to an old idea.
If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.
— Elissa Ruddick