Antique Fishing Gear At Auction Offers Glimpse Into Angling’s History

Last Saturday I attended the estate auction for William “Bud” Snyder, a renowned fishing gear collector who amassed an amazing collection over his lifetime.   In fact, it was touted as being the largest privately held fishing-related collection to be found anywhere in the U.S.   Want to learn more about Bud…you can read more here.

Bottom line is this auction was so large it spanned two full days and there were over 1,100 auction lots up for bid.   Keep in mind, many lots (especially for fishing lures) contained on average 3–6 items per lot.   That’s one heck of a lot of fishing gear on display and for sale.

I attended the second day and when I walked into the local VFW it was like stepping into a fishing time warp machine taking a person way back to years before my birth.   I’ll be honest, I am not much of a fishing historian so there was lots of antique fishing gear I had no clue how it was even once used, let alone what the collector value might be for such artifacts.

Yet, I sat and viewed the auction for over 5 hours and was amazed as angling history passed by my eyes.    Many of the items sold for just a few dollars…other items sold at what I deemed to be exorbitant prices.   Perhaps most interesting was the fact this auction was conducted on the Internet as well as in-person so bidding was literally taking place throughout North America.   I would estimate that perhaps one out of every three items sold on this day went to an Internet bidder.

What follows are several pictures taken from my day spent at this auction.   All of the pictures were taken from my iPhone camera so I did have some auto focus issues on some images, but please bear with me.   I tried not to be too intrusive or disruptive of the on-going auction process.   The photo captions contain some additional remarks about this interesting day.


A very unique and extensive collection of outboard motors was on display for sale.


Tackleboxes galore were on display just as if you’d found them in grandpa’s attic.


Inside every tacklebox was a treasure waiting to be rediscovered.


As an old Herter’s shopper, it was fun to see this now defunct store have a small display showcasing its once-popular fishing wares.


Bobbers…did someone say bobbers? This auction had them in all different shapes and sizes.


Speaking of fishing creels, most of these unique models sold for $30 – $60 with the occasional one topping out near $100.


This was a typical display board detailing how Bud used to showcase most of his unique fishing lures.


This 1915 Evinrude outboard motor Model A sold for $425 as was a typical price for such a treasure.

But the granddaddy of them all was this 1905 Waterman Porto Motor, outboard model C14, 3hp. We were told there are only two such motors in existence today and the other one resides at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Once valued at over $40,000…at auction this sold for a mere $5,300. What a bargain!


Each box constituted an auction “lot.” Honestly, it took the better portion of two full days to sell all 1,100+ lots.


The fishing memorabilia was not limited to tackle and equipment…in fact, a large display of angling advertising was also up for sale and proved somewhat popular among some bidders.


Truly, this auction was more like a museum…and to collectors it was like being in the proverbial “candy store.”


I know you can’t see the fishing lure the auctioneer is holding up…but it is a Haskell Minnow reproduction and it sold for $850–the highest price I seen paid for a single lure at the auction. I’m told the originals of this lure are so rare they can sell for over $20,000.


Okay, I would like to tease you and say this was a fishing lure…but that’s not entirely true. In fact, this musky was some sort of wall display with what appeared to be an electronic mouth that opened and closed.


This auction was so big that items actually surrounded the room at the local VFW.


Although I was not really in the market to bid on any of the collectibles, it was incredibly interesting to watch those collectors in attendance add to their personal collections.


What a great auction this would have been for the person just starting their fishing collection. There was something for everyone…and in many cases it seemed to me that most items sold quite reasonable.


Not exactly sure what this item is…but it just looked neater than heck.


During the second day there maybe was 40-50 bidders in attendance…with likely an equal number or more watching online. If there was anything that surprised me about this auction it was the rather sparse attendance. I would have guessed 4 times as many people as actually showed.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.