Anatomy of a 100 year old tackle box

18 May


We all love to find tackle boxes in the field just as they were when the fisherman used them. Admit it…… get an adrenalin rush when you see an un-altered box from the 30’s or 40’s and you open that lid!


Well, imagine the rush I got when I saw this 100 year old box when walking into a booth at Rennigers Antique show this year!  Paul Donofrio just picked this box up at an estate sale in Sarasota just a week prior to the show, and decided to put it up for sale.


I was salivating when I saw the Heddon lures lining the top trays, and I think Paul knew he had a sale. After catching my breath and getting it home, I found out the family was from the Cuyahoga Cleveland area. Also, a hook or swivel envelope from an early 1900 hardware store in Cleveland, confirmed the home of the box.  Below is the hook or swivel packet that was found in the tackle box. Davis, Hunt, & Collister Co. were incorporated in 1893. It was located at 147-149 Ontario St downtown Cleveland.

davis collister

davis collister bldg

Bass and Trout Fishing in 1910 in the Cleveland area were for the rich and famous. In fact this box with its contents would have cost an angler more than a year’s salary for the average worker of the time.  The Cleveland/Sandusky area was also the home of an elite fishing club called the Castalia Sporting Club that included political members from the Cleveland area, and leaders of the Cleveland business community. The CASTALIA SPORTING CLUB served as a center of social activity from 1878 through 1936. Prominent members included Lee McBride, JOHN HAY, JAMES FORD RHODES,AMASA STONE MATHER, and JEPTHA WADE. Two well-known non-Clevelanders, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon and steel industrialist Henry Clay Frick, were also members. Members kept thorough records of how often they visited Castalia Sporting Club, the names of their guests, as well as the number, types, and weights of the fish that they caught. Women were permitted as guests of the club, and the names of female relatives and friends appear throughout the club registers after 1882. However, from 1902-08 there was some disagreement among members as to whether or not women should be allowed to partake in club activities. Despite the debate, women’s names appear consistently throughout this six-year time span.


Enough of the history, let’s get down to business and take a look the box!  You ready!

Before we open the lid we need to take a close look at the box itself.  For a 100 year old box, it appears to be in great shape. The box looks to be made of pine, and is covered with leather on the top and the sides. It has 2 trays for lures, and a storage compartment in the bottom for reels and other tackle.

tackle box outside


Outside of Tackle Box


I was able to find another identical box for sale out of Canada, as you can see below, and another collector emailed me and confirmed he had an identical box.  This seems to verify that this was a production box from the early 1900’s.


tackle box on internet

Picture courtesy of:

The lock was made by Corbin who was a large lock-maker in the early 1900’s.  The Corbin lock and corner covers are all brass. According to Historical Research Series #19 published by Thomas F. Hennessy, Curator, Lock Museum of America in May, 1987; that logo was used by Corbin Cabinet Lock Co. from 1900-1919. CCL Security Products of Wheeling, IL is their successor.

corbin lock

Now, let’s open the box and take a look inside!

inside of box

The first lure of interest is a Pre 1912 Heddon Slopenose Expert Casting Minnow. It is the traditional blue/white color, with a red 2 pin collar, and “non brass” cup hardware.  The lure is dirty, from being in the box, but does not look to have much use.


Next to the Expert, is a  1911 Heddon blunt nose 100 in Rainbow color. It is cup rigged, has nickel-plated hardware, and unmarked props. It also has a large single belly weight, two hand painted gill marks, and is missing one hook.

heddon 100

Next to the 100 is a very interesting lure. It is a 1907 Heddon 150 in Brown back with yellow belly, a color called Blended Yellow.  It has one belly weight, no name on props, and 3 hand painted gill marks.

heddon 150

Wow! These Heddon’s are coming out of the woodwork!  When you think about it, maybe it is not so ironic. There were not a whole lot of choices in wood lures back in the early 1900’s. Next is a gorgeous 1911 Slate back 100 with red around eyes on white body. It is a Fat body style with 2 hand painted gill marks, one belly weight, and no name on props. Very little use on this beauty.

heddon 100 slate

The next lure has the most use of any of the Heddon lures.  This 1908 Heddon 100 in Copper, has a thin body style, with no name on props, one belly weight, and 2 hand painted gill marks.

heddon 100 copper

Next is an obscure Heddon lure made for only a few years. The Heddon Bucktail Surface Minnow was

Only made from 1908-1912.


The lure has a Green Crackleback patch on head, with white body.  The bucktail on the back hook has deteriorated.  It has two hand painted gill marks, no name on props, and no cup on back.

heddon bucktail

The last of the Heddon lures is a “OO” in Strawberry Spot. This lure came out in 1912 which seems to be latest lure in the tackle box. Cup rigged, high forehead,  and no name on props. It is 5 sided with belly weighted, 5 hooks, and 3 hand painted gill marks.

heddon 00

Now let’s take a look at some of the metal lures. There are two Delany Canadian lures to take a look at. William Delany was a jewelry maker in Cobourg Ontario Canada. Delany was born in 1834, and began manufacturing metal spoon lures in the 1890’s. Lures were available in silver, copper, and brass, and he had various sizes in plain, hammered, and ribbed. Some lures had bucktail and wool skirts.  According to Canadian collector Paul Briscoe, these are quite collectible.



Other metal spoon lures that are of interest are the W.T. Lowe and Skinner spoons. Although these NY metal lures are not as valuable as the Delany, they are still early 1900’s vintage.

all metal lures

The most intriguing non lures in the box have to be the line spools. After discussing these spools with noted line collector John Etchieson , John was able to make a few observations that were not known until these were revealed. These Cuttyhunk line spools according to John appeared in the 1910 Gladding catalog, but disappeared in the 1912 catalog!  Wow! Just made of 2 years, and in pristine condition!


cuttyhunk catalog

courtesy John Etchieson

Also, according to John, “The three line blocks of the Excelsior braided linen are also Gladding and have the early pre 1912 logo of two fish facing each other. By 1912 Gladding had adopted the famous large letter “G” logo that they used on their products until they finally went out of business.”

excelsior line

Our next piece happens to be a carded spinner/fly lure called the Water Witch Bass Spinner. After researching this one, I found that this lure was most likely tied by the famous Carrie Frost who was well known for this pattern and was active during this time frame.

water witch

Here is a little history on CJ Frost, courtesy of James Jordan.


C.J. Frost Fishing Tackle

Born     in La Crosse, Wisconsin Oct. 14, 1868- Carrie J. Frost started tying flies     for her father. Initially C.J. tied flies in her home. After she put some     of her flies on the market for the public to buy, C.J. opened a store on     Jefferson St. in Stevens Point Wisconsin. Later she moved to a Normal Ave     location. Finally she had a new brick building built on Ellis Street.

In     1906 Her brother George W. Frost became involved in her business. In 1919     at the time of her retirement Carrie was employing 150 people in her     business named the C.J. frost Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company. She     sold the business to a firm under the name of Frost Fishing Tackle Company     which was short lived. Her company eventually evolved into the Weber Tackle     Company at some time between 1919 and 1921.

Carrie     J. Frost has long been considered a pioneer for female business women and     the American Fly tying industry. Carrie passed on Oct. 7, 1937 leaving one     of the greatest tackle making legacies behind. She is no doubt responsible     for putting Stevens Point, Wisconsin on the map as the Fly making capital     of the World. Prior to her endeavors the majority of Flies cast by American     fly fishermen and women in the United States were imported from England.


Here is a picture of the Frost factory, and a similar Frost spinner

frost building


frost lure

The only reference to the lone bobber found in the box I could find was a catalog ad from the H.C. Evans Co in 1909. The Ad indicates a round cork, egg shaped, wood top float. It has the same design and size. This would be the #2 sizes or 2 inch.

The brass box swivels were also featured in the catalog, and these were sold through many hardware and sporting goods stores in the early teens.



Here are a few other miscellaneous items that were in the box. Rod tips, an interesting rod butt, some matches, and a tin candy case!

rod tips

Pacific Hardware carried these style rod mountings in 1909.

rod mountings catalog

This Fraser rod butt was patented in 1906.

fraser rod butt

rod butt patent

The Cigar Lights were made in Sweden, and quite collectible.

cigar lights

The two reels in the tackle box are a Hendrix and a Meiselbach Tripart. These both are early 1900 reels, and the Hendrix may even be 1800’s.

hendrix reel

tripart reel


I hope I was able to share some history that you all could enjoy. If you have any insights on any of the items in this article, please feel free to contact me any time.


Rick Osterholt



2 Responses to “Anatomy of a 100 year old tackle box”

  1. Jerry Mullis September 5, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    We were trying to find out much a copper tackle box was worth?

    • shurstrike September 5, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      Jerry, it is hard to say without seeing it. Send me an email with a picture if you can.

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