by Mark Edson –
As I mentioned in October’s column, not all pikies are created equal. In fact, most “alike” lures of any manufacturer are subject to price variability due to a wide range of factors. But before we discuss those factors, I want to focus on the basics of tackle collecting. What makes a lure collectible? What should you look for while searching your local antique store, garage sale or swap meet?
As a general rule, lures made of wood with glass eyes are highly collectible and have the greatest potential for value. Being manufactured in the U.S. is important too. Though many small and successful U.S. companies manufactured high quality, very collectible baits from the early part of the 1900’s into mid-century, most lure collecting is associated with the “Big 5”: Creek Chub, Heddon, Pflueger, South Bend and Shakespeare. In the early history of these companies, lures were sold individually in wooden slide top boxes (Creek Chub never used wood boxes) and eventually the Big 5 all transitioned to two-piece cardboard boxes before diverging into a wide range of packaging. The box the lure comes in, the type of hardware used, body shape, and paint patterns can all be used to determine in what part of the company’s history was the lure made.
The number #1 rule to ALWAYS remember when collecting fishing tackle, whether a newbie, mid-level or advanced collector is, CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION is paramount…especially in today’s market. If a lure is missing paint or parts, has dings or worm burns, or significant rust on the hardware etc., my best advice to you is: “Stay away.” A $200 bait with a couple of noticeable dings and/or chips can easily lose more than 75% of its value. The rarity of a lure can add some flexibility to condition concerns but you need to be fairly advanced in your collecting skills before dropping $50 on a lure that grades only very good (VG) on a good day. Otherwise, you are likely to end up with a whole tackle box full of junk rather than quality pieces. If this happens too frequently, you are going to come out behind on more deals than not. So, the second and final rule: Don’t buy on emotion…but rather because you are getting a good deal. Think of collecting tackle as a large game of Monopoly. The best players are the ones who own the most assets and spend the least to get them.
The earlier claim that “All pikies are not created equal” is a standard that applies to all lures. Over the years, many companies used different hardware, body styles, coatings etc. and any of these characteristics can play an enormous role in value. Creek Chub Bait Company (CCBCo) first introduced the Pikie lure around 1920 just a few short years after the company’s formal inception in 1916. CCBCo manufactured millions of Pikies over the 60+ years they were in business. The lure could be purchased in sizes ranging from 2 ½’ up to 14” in both wooden and plastic models. Some were jointed and some were straight. Some were made for freshwater and others for salt water fishing and some sizes are harder to find than others.
From my research, most companies that were ever in the tackle business allowed fisherman to special order a lure at one time or another.
It was in the special order market, however, where CCBCo really stands above the rest. Creek Chub manufactured tens of thousands of baits with paint finishes different from those offered in their catalog; they interchanged colors on their own lure lineup, i.e., a frog spot finish would be common in one creek chub lure but extremely rare on another. CCBCo also modified hook hardware, added hair legs and tails etc. Even CCBCo employees designed their own lures for company events. Some paint finishes found today are an one-of-a-kind special order and normally command big prices. A Pikie today in perch or pikie finish, in mint condition, without a box is likely to bring no more than $10 while the same Pikie with a blue head and white body can fetch well over $100 in mint condition.
Well, that is it for nopw, if you have any questions about the article, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any tackle that needs identification, needs to be
valued or is for sale, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Look for my next article where we discuss the beautiful salt water lures manufactured of bone, bakelite and catalin. Until next time, “Tight lines.”
Also, check out my pictures of vintage tackle at my FACEBOOK Page: Antique Fishing Tackle!