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Antique fishing tackle event reels in $500,000

Morphy Auctions brought forth an extensive collection of fishing tackle of varying types, more than 550 lots in all, in the firm's first antique fishing lures and tackle auction. Taking top lot honors was a Moonlight Dreadnought bait and box by Paw Paw, which sold for $29,280.

DENVER, Pa. – It’s no fish tale to say that Morphy’s debut antique fishing sales event was a phenomenal success. Led by Morphy’s department head and well known industry expert Joe

Dreadnought bait Paw Paw

This Moonlight Dreadnought bait and box, Paw Paw, Michigan, estimated at $4,000-$7,000, hooked a collector for $29,280. (All photos courtesy Morphy Auctions)

Stagnitti, this auction featured more than 550 interesting and collectible fishing baits and lures, reels and rods, accessories and related ephemera. And collectors seemed to agree, with 35 lots realizing $2,000 or above, 13 lots realizing $5,000 or more and six lots casting past $10,000.

This auction featured an enormous selection of amazing baits and lures from famous manufacturers including James Heddon, William Shakespeare Jr., Creek Chub and Pflueger. Many were with their original boxes or cards and in extraordinary condition. A Moonlight Dreadnought bait and box, Paw Paw, Michigan, estimated at $4,000-$7,000, had one collector moonstruck at $29,280. A Wiggle Tail Minnow Co., Detroit, Michigan, circa 1912, estimated at $5,000-$10,000, realized a not-so-little $23,180. Other irresistible sales highlights include an EC Adams Jersey Expert with box and paper, which was estimated at $8,000-$12,000 and sold for $19,520, and a Moonlight Paw Paw Underwater Minnow with box, which was estimated at $4,000-$6,000 but more than tripled its high estimate to realize $18,300.

Rods and reels were also well represented. Bidders seemed to be hooked on the fine examples from the many companies and individual craftsmen on offer. An HS Gillum deluxe salmon fly rod, bag and tube, estimated at $600-$1,000, had one collector fully equipped at $1,708. A new-in-the-box EJ Sellers Deluxe Bas-Kit Reel, estimated at $500-$1,000, reeled in $1,300. An important Peter A. Altmaeir 1869 patent handle reel sold at $6,000, within its $5,000-$10,000 estimate. Other reel highlights include a Philbrook & Paine marbleized salmon reel, an HL Leonard bi-metal raised pillar salmon reel and a JF and BF Meek #1 brass Kentucky reel that sold for $12,200, $9,760 and $4,270, respectively.

A selection of fishing related ephemera and collectibles rounded out the sale. These included fishing licenses and buttons, advertising and fine and folk carvings, among other rarities. Collectors competed for a circa 1930 South Bend fishing tackle display, which was estimated at $800-$1,500 and realized $3,250. A Nash of Maine brook trout mount, estimated at $4,000-$6,000, came to life at $7,500. And a 1912 Bristol Fishing Rods calendar, estimated at $500-$1,500 stood the test of time to realize $2,000.

According to Joe Stagnitti, division head of the Antique and Vintage Fishing Tackle, Baits and Ephemera Division at Morphy Auctions, “I could not be more pleased with the results of this debut sales event. We had over 300 online bidders, 65 people live at the sale and a 99.5 percent sell-through rate. Our top consignor was in the audience and was delighted and overwhelmed with the results.”

For more information on Morphy Auctions, visit

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