Friday, July 25, 2008

South Bend Pike-Oreno Wooden Lure

Grading lures can be difficult and it takes experience to do it properly. A good way to gain experience is to view lures in person in all the various condition stages. Or if you are like me utilized the NFLCC Lure Grading system. It is a 1 to 10 grading system. If the numerical scale condition needs further clarification a 1/2 can be added to the end. You may also add + or - to the regular description, example AVG+ or AVG-. The system is printed below for your use.

#10 - New in Box (NIB) Unused with original box or carton
#9 -Mint (M) Unused without box or carton
#8 -Excellent (EXC) Very little age or no paint cracks, very minor defects
#7 -Very Good (VG) Little paint cracks, some minor defects
#5 to 6 -Good (G) Some paint cracks, starting to chip, small defects
#3 to 4 -Average (AVE) Some paint loss and /or chipping; showing age.
#2 -Fair (F) Major paint loss and/or defects; major chipping
#1 -Poor (P) Parts missing, poor color and/or major chipping
#0 -Repaint (R) Original paint covered over in part or all.

The pictured lure is a South Bend Pike-Oreno Lure made out of wood with tack eyes. It measures 3 ¾ inches long and has two prong hooks secured by metal encasing within the wood that are not painted dating to 1915 to 1933. The color is a yellow body with a red head and black around the eyes. There are areas of lost paint and crazing throughout the body. It remains shiny, but it starting to dull with age. There are no missing pieces to this lure and it has not been restored in any way. I guess I would give it an average grade.

Mr. F.G. Worden from South Bend, Indiana began making lures around c.1894. The exact time is unknown. Mr. Worden started producing his baits in a two story house in South Bend. He was the inventor of Bucktail Baits and soon was nicknamed Mr. Bucktail. In the early 1900's it is believed that he made an agreement with William Shakespeare Jr. to share his bucktail design. In 1902 Shakespeare came out with an aluminum version of the Revolution lure with the Worden Bucktail design.

In 1909 three people, F.A. Bryan, F.L. Denis and B.W. Oliver did all of the work making and distributing their products. These gentlemen brought in investors from Chicago and formed the South Bend Bait company in 1909. By this time Mr. Worden had grown into a large tackle company. In 1910 they brought in a man named Ivar Hennings. He had an ability to organize and implement new ideas. He then built a new factory and moved the company to Colfax Avenue in downtown South Bend, Indiana. By 1915 they had fifty women working on the assembly line and fifteen salesmen distributing their products in the U.S., Canada and France.

The wooden baits were made of red cedar. The wood was produced by the South Bend Dowel Works. Each piece of wood was chemically treated to prevent the swelling of the wood and protect the enamel finish from cracking. Only hand welded hooks that were imported from England were used. The hooks and hardware were nickel plated. Each wooden lure required at least fifty operations. Twenty-five thousand deer tail, used to produce Bucktail lures were stocked.

Since South Bend began making baits and into the forties the company was very prosperous. They grew from one floor of the Electric building in downtown South Bend, to a 55 thousand square foot space in 1936. A ten thousand square foot addition was done in 1941. During WW II the company’s factory was used towards the war effort and after the war fishing tackle production started up again. In 1947 the Fishing Tackle Company of Americas was founded as an affiliate with 20,000 square feet of production in Maquoketa, Iowa to produce South Bend lures. By 1949 they had grown to 100,000 square feet and more warehouse space was purchased in Iowa.

By 1952 South Bend was once again in full production of their fishing tackle following WWII. Harold O. Stream was now President of the company. In December of 1954 William Martindill became President of the company and Harold O. Stream was Chairman of the Board. The South Bend Bait Company changed its name to the South Bend Tackle Company in 1955. The general offices, service center and warehousing remain in South Bend. The manufacturing plants were in Maquoketa, Spencer and Estherville, Iowa. In 1957 William Martindill resigned and Gerard W. Brooks became President of the South Bend Tackle Company.

The South Bend Tackle Company was sold to Seymour and Benjamin F. Fohrman in 1958. Mr. Fohrman had other interests in companies such as The South Bend Toy Manufacturing Company and the South Bend Tool and Die Company. Following the purchase of the company Gerard Brooks resigned and Seymour was then in charge of the company. A few years later Seymour moved the company's headquarters to Chicago, Illinois. The company address was 6710 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago. In 1962 the South Bend Tackle Company returned to South Bend. All of the company's operations were then consolidated at 1108 S. High Street, South Bend, Indiana.

Through the sixties the company went through some management changes and in 1964 South Bend was sold to the B.F. Gladding & Co. which was a well known maker of casting and fly lines. In the seventies the company went through hard times and had limited presence in the market.

In 1981 two families from Chicago took a chance and purchased the South Bend Company. They recruited Kel Krotzner as president who was the former head of sales of the company. South Bend no longer made their famous traditional lures after 1982 when Luhr-Jensen & Sons purchased the rights for the Oreno line of lures. Through the 80's and early 90's the company experienced good growth. South Bend is still located in Northbrook, Illinois. Today South Bend is still manufacturing rods, reels and terminal tackle under the guidance of president Jim Pickering.

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