Giant Haskell Minnow:
It is probably the most famous fishing lure in the world.
Answer to Name This Famous Antique Game - November 2015
By Mike McLeod

Obviously, this is a fishing lure—but not just any outdoor-store-variety lure. This is the Giant Haskell Minnow, and it was auctioned on Nov. 8, 2003 at Lang’s Tackle Auction for $101,200 (including 10% buyer’s premium). Created by gunsmith Riley Haskell of Painesville, Ohio, it was patented in 1859. It is probably the most famous fishing lure in the world.

The Haskell Minnow lure sold for $102,000. (Photo: Lang’s Auction.)

The Haskell Minnow is hollow, ten inches long and made of copper. Designed with fish scales and fins, it was a quantum leap ahead of the lure technology of the 1800s. Most lures then were basic flat spoons or spinners. This lure not only looked like a minnow, but it also had the add-on feature of a tail that spun, which gave it added movement to attract fish.

The Haskell Minnow auctioned also came with a slide-top wooden box carved with Riley Haskell’s first initial and last name.

The first company to commercially sell fishing lures did not start out as such. In 1897, James Heddon was a beekeeper. To encourage more distributors to sell his honey, he carved and gave away a frog fishing lure as an enticement. It was such a success that in 1902, he officially started the Heddon Company. Soon, fishing lures became his primary business, and the one for which the Heddon name is known worldwide.

James Heddon sold his highly successful company in 1955, going out on top. Heddon lures are still manufactured today, and James Heddon’s frog lures are the next most prized collectible lure after the Haskell Minnow. Only eight Heddon frog lures are known to exist today, and it is said that they are valued at $30,000.1

The Vermeil 24K gold and jewel-encrusted lure, priced at $6,400. (Photo: The House of Solid Gold, www.thehouseofsolidgold.com.)

Although most fishing lures are relatively inexpensive, premium offshore fishing lures can be priced between $100 and $500 and are often a foot in length. Or for the truly discriminating fisherman—or the jewelry collector—wishing for the ultimate experience, the 24K gold Vermeil Jewel Encrusted Fishing Lure is available for $6,400 from The House of Solid Gold. (Gift wrapping is available.) Measuring just 1.25 inches in length, the Vermeil is set with 180 gemstones (1.3 carats of red rubies) and .57 carats of white diamonds. It is handmade with 24K gold over sterling silver. As described on TheHouseofSolidGold.com, it is, “Built for the fisherman who dreams of turning his annual fishing adventure into an ‘extreme sport.’”

For those wanting a less extreme sport, there is a $600 solid gold Vermeil spoon-type lure. Or to get away from fishing entirely, there are gold and gem toothpicks, golf tees and guitar picks for $550, $750 and $950, respectively.

Sherry Blanton of the Old School Antique Mall in Sylva, N.C., and Ted Carlton of Utah correctly identified this lure.

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1 West Neck Creek Ramblings, “Some Old Lures Worth a Lot of Money,” Feb. 16, 2015, vabassinman.blogspot.com. 


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