The five most expensive antique lures in existence

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Everybody has a couple of lures lying around somewhere that haven’t been used in a long time, maybe never used. Maybe they belonged to a family member who has passed on. Have you ever wondered if they have any value?

Daniel Xu wondered the same thing and conducted some research on the subject. Checking Lang’s Auction, Inc ( he found four antique lures that sold for over the $10,000 mark, and one that went for over $100,000. Kind of makes you take a closer look at what you might have lying around.

Heddon Dowagiac Expert – $17,600

Invented by beekeeper and newspaperman James Heddon, this turn-of-the-century lure was named after Dowagiac, Michigan, where Heddon worked. Originally sold as the Dowagiac Casting Bait, Heddon eventually shortened the name of the blue and white lure to the “Dowagiac Expert.” Very few copies of this lure survive to this day, and fewer still in good condition. Demand for the Dowagiac Expert is so high that the white cardboard box it came in can sell for as high as $1,000 without the lure itself.

Shakespeare Muskellunge Minnow – $23,100

The Shakespeare Muskellunge Minnow is a part of the legacy that lure maker William Shakespeare, Jr. left behind. The son of a banker, Shakespeare revolutionized the industry with the introduction of his aptly named “Revolution” lure in the late 1890s. Equipped with three treble hooks and a propeller, it was one of the earliest wooden baits sold in the United States. This carefully-preserved minnow is a refinement of that original lure, and much to the surprise of auctioneers, blasted past the estimated final price of $5,500.

Chautaugua Minnow – $37,400

Made by Krantz & Smith of New York in 1908, this lure was actually not well-received when it was first introduced. That was because anglers found that the lure was ineffective and generally had a low success rate when it came to catching fish. The low demand at the time meant that production was cut off shortly before the first few Chautaugua Minnows were made, making them especially rare to collectors. Count yourself lucky if you manage to find one of these because at one time in its history, somebody saved it from the scrap heap.

Unidentified First American Wooden Minnow – $42,560

Listed as the “single most historic and important wooden minnow to ever come to auction,” this lure is considered the predecessor of all American wooden underwater lures. According to auctioneers, this mysterious lure was found in the tackle box of an Ohio angler next to an assortment of antique fishing tackle. Although historians were not able to trace the manufacture of this rare and possibly one-of-a-kind lure, it is compared as practically identical to early Trory minnows. This particular lure is described as in very good condition despite dating from the late 1890s.
And now for the best one of all….

Giant Haskell Minnow – $101,200

The 1853 copper Giant Haskell Minnow is likely the most expensive production lure ever sold. When bidding ended in 2003 at a whopping $101,200, this lure became the highest-priced fishing-related collectible sold at auction. While there have been reports of other Giant Haskel Minnows in the hands of private collectors, so far this is the only one to have surfaced. Produced by gunsmith Riley Haskel in 1859, the lure was one of the first that actually resembled a fish. Its revolving tail also made it the first animated lure to be sold in America. While there are a number of smaller Haskell lures, the exclusivity of this 10-inch minnow makes it worth more than its weight in gold.

Source: Ceder Creek Lake

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