Portrait of James Heddon Lure Maker





Heddon Antique Lure Factory





Boat Used by Heddon To Test Lures




Heddon Underwater Expert Antique Lures




Heddon Antique Lure the Surface Minnow Series 300





Heddon Lure Delivery Truck

The Pewabic and Its Antique Fishing Lure Treasure 

One of our more eclectic fishing lure finds to date, as well as my personal historical favorite has got to be this group of items. These items were aboard the Pewabic ship which sunk in 1865. The article provided by the Michigan history magazine can be seen below and read by clicking this link. As a collector and researcher of fishing lure history we as collectors have been given only limited access to early materials due to the nature of the antiquity itself. The things we know and learn as a neophyte collector we learn from books, from fellow collectors and from the cookie crumbs of history and lessons which befall us on our travels.

Take for instance below the stamped WD Chapman fishing lure. An example of The Chapman lure below can be better seen on page 76 in the upper left corner in Arlan Carters Lure book entitled 19th Century Fishing Lures. Arlan's book, as I'm on about my 4th copy due to wear and use, is my favorite of all collecting books due to its affiliation to pre 1900 tackle. No doubt if you've collected a while you have this on your shelf, and if you don't you should.

Anyone who has tried to research pre 1900 anything specifically antique fishing lures knows we are at the whim and mercy of the history gods for tiny bits and nuggets to create a picture or a story by which the History itself to fill. Its not easy to find much of anything related to fishing tackle in 1865. Why one might ask, well lets take a moment and paint a picture of just what was relevant in 1865. With a quick tap on your keyboard or flip through you encyclopedia you will find that Abraham Lincoln was President of the US. He was assonated in April of that year by John Wilkes Booth. The 13th amendment which abolished slavery was created. The American Civil War was coming to an end. Names like General Grant and Lee we no doubt used in commonplace at the dinner table. Other great maritime tragedies such as the sinking of the steamboat SS Sultana killing 1800 people occurred. So we try and put into perspective what we know of companies and what the were doing at that time as a way of making tangible sense to the cookie crumbs. We are not talking about the age or era of Amazon.com type network distribution. We are talking about wagons, carriages, steam engines, and salesman on horseback. We are not speaking of the assembly line production era that Mr. Ford would make popular 60 years from now.

It is known as Arlan points out WD Chapmans first fishing lure patent was in 1866 and can be seen here. This is a full year after these antique fishing lures made their ill fated travels. The lures in question also have type face errors on them. Not exactly the quality control or workmanship we've know to come and love by the WD Champman the Jeweler, the silversmith and maker of such lures that we as metal collectors covet, the Safe Deposit Minnow, Combination Minnow, Threaded Minnow and The Boss Bait. What then could we surmise based on the evidence we have at hand. I would pose such questions as "Is this lure a pre production lure"; Is this lure the first pre patent lure"? One can certainly debate this, as the lure featured below was found by a diver on a ship which sunk in 1865 and Chapman's first patent was in 1866.   

Ill conclude with; As such as we read and gleam knowledge about antique fishing lures from books, and articles, and persons of knowledge of written fact. Pre 1900s Antique Fishing Lure history is sparse at best the further we go backwards. We must all do our fiduciary responsibilities as collectors to find and pass on as well and be willing to question and explore new facts as they come to light to broaden our picture. As much as we can learn from written works to date, to paint this historical picture, we also must be able to inquire or question what we thought we knew of as the beginning of legendary lure maker WD Chapman just from this short exeprt. I myself am no expert in the aforementioned subject matter, I'm just a dabbler in the history of the lure makers I've known to appreciate and enjoy. My true goal being in hopes that some of the little acorns I've found along the way will help those more learned than myself paint a even more complete picture for the myriad of fishing lure collectors to enjoy. 



Antique FIshing Lures From the Shipwreck

WD Chapman Lure From the Shipwreck Front WD Chapman Lure From the Shipwreck Rear and Meat Hook Unknown No 1 Antique Fishing Lure Front Unknown No 1 Antique Fishing Lure Rear that was polished Unknonw Antique Lure From Wreck Unknown Lure Rear Photo of Back and Clevis