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Collector looks for info on rare lure he believes could have ties locally

Author of this column, Michael Kechkaylo of Berrien Springs, Michigan, hopes to find information on the creator of this antique fishing lure that he purchased at auction. Kechkaylo believes there is a chance the lure might have ties to the Brown Brothers of Osakis, who made fishing lures in the early-to-mid 1900s. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Michael Kechkaylo2 / 2

Antique fishing lure collectors are an inquisitive bunch.

They like to add old-time lures and tackle to their collections. The rarer and harder an item is to find, the more collectors treasure it.

But there's more to avid collecting than perceived value of a lure. These folks are historical buffs and can tell you the story behind almost every lure in their collections.

Where, how and when it was made, how many were produced. Where it was tested and even the background on the company or individual who designed it.

And it's that part that is driving me somewhat crazy. I recently purchased one of the rarest lures of all. So rare, in fact that not even the most experienced antique lure collectors can identify it.

At this point, this "Mystery" lure is the only one known. I've been collecting and studying antique fishing lures for just over 40 years, and I've never seen another one like it. I've spent hundreds of hours studying patent applications and patents trying to discover who made this lure. There are a few lures that were made having minor characteristics compared to the lure, but I have not found anything that would come close to this lure.

The 3½ inch red and white lure certainly is very unique. It has a propeller under the belly that, when pulled through the water, turns a shaft that runs through the lure body and is connected to a nose mounted open segmented metal "bubbler" than spins on the nose.

It also has an elongated curved line tie that runs off the chin of the lure to keep it from interfering from the churning "bubbler." The "bubbler" agitates the water like a buzz bait. It has very high quality hardware and the lure body is made of red or white cedar. Size of the lure indicates that it was either used for bass or pike fishing.

I am convinced that this lure was made between the 1920s and 1940s and was designed by someone who knew quite a bit about producing fishing lures.

My hunch is that they made very few of these lures, and suspended production because it was too difficult and costly to produce.

The lure was discovered during a national lure auction in Springfield, Missouri, just over two years ago. A woman walked into an antique fishing lure collectors convention with an old tackle box that belonged to her father. All of the lures inside the box were auctioned off.

The "Mystery" lure — that is what we called it, created quite amount of interest because no one had ever seen anything like it. There were hundreds of collectors present, and everyone was blown away by this unique lure which was also indicated by the high price paid for it. Although you can tell the lure has been fished, it's still in great condition and all of the moving parts still work.

Since then, I have done everything I could to unlock the hidden secrets of the lure. It's been written up in collector's magazines and blogs yet not one bit of information has turned up. I even interviewed the woman who sold the lure at the auction.

She said her dad was an avid fisherman and loved fishing the Fox River in Illinois, northwest Indiana lakes, and numerous lakes in Minnesota. He was born in 1908 and died in 1967 and lived in Evanston, Illinois. That's about all I know about him.

After researching patents, patent applications and gathering all known lure information, there were only three lures that were made having minor characteristics compared to this lure.

One of these lures is the Fisheretto. The Fisheretto was manufactured by the Brown brothers of Osakis, who manufactured lures from about 1918 to about 1945.

I am asking for help from readers to spread the word if anyone has information about the Mystery lure. Perhaps someone has an old advertisement, paperwork or even another Mystery lure with or without the original box to help identify the model and/or manufacturer of this lure.

If you have any questions or need help about antique fishing lures, you are also welcome to contact me any time at 269-325-3519 or email at kech22@prodigy.net.

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