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Demand for Heddon lures takes backseat to none

I believe it's important to know the history of a company before talking about their specific successes. So it is with the Heddon fishing lure company of Dowagiac, Mich. It's no big leap of faith to assume this can be boring to many. The good news is once I share the history of a company, only minimal references will be made to such information in future articles. In terms of demand from fishing lure enthusiasts, Heddon fishing lures take a back seat to none. We could spend years discussing the multitude of lures that are on collectors' shelves. As with Creek Chub lures, such a generic approach would be in poor taste.

There is an often repeated story that states, on a lazy summer day, while James Heddon waited for friends to fish bass in a small pond near Dowagiac, Mich., he whittled on a piece of wood. The story states, "Heddon whittled on a piece of wood, which grew smaller and smaller. He tossed the whittled "plug" into the pond and was greeted with a resounding splash." That splash was "Heard 'round the world." With that splash, Heddon knew immediately there was potential here. So, on that special day in 1898, the idea of Heddon top water lures was conceived.

In 1900, Heddon borrowed $1,000 from his successful son, Will. Those funds were used to launch the James Heddon & Son Company. For the beginnings of his fishing lure company, James made and painted the lures in an upstairs room of his house. In Bill Roberts & Rob Pavey's wonderful book, "The Heddon Legacy -- A Century of Classic Lures" (a must book for those interested in collecting Heddon lures, and where information for this article was obtained) they state, according to legend, the lures were baked in Mrs. Heddon's oven. In fact, according to company history and folklore speculation, the highly successful crackle back paint finish was due to human error. Lacquer was being used in early Heddon lures in an attempt to make the paint dry faster. When placed in Mrs. Heddon's oven, the lacquer "crackled" the paint. Ever hear the phrase, rather be lucky than good? To this day, any lure with the crackled paint is highly sought after. For whatever reason, (maybe Mrs. Heddon wanted her oven back) the first permanent Heddon factory as established in 1902. It was located in the second floor of the Phillipson Clothing Store building in Dowagiac, Mich. It's a matter of record one of Heddon's first goals as a commercial fishing lure dealer was to patent his method of attaching hooks to his variety of surface lures. He used sunken caps in an attempt to prevent them from tangling or damaging the paint job on his lures. Even today, "hook pointers" as they're called are a common problem with old wooden lures. Such "pointers" are caused by a hook point denting the lure surface. That is precisely what Heddon was trying to eliminate with his patent. Keep in mind such dents, as we call them, hurt the value of a lure.

Heddon lures enjoyed over a century of success with their innovative designs and commitment to quality. There were many lures before Heddons. However, many serious collectors state with strong conviction, Heddon made the best lures. It's not my mission to say who made the best lures, Heddon, Creek Chub, South Bend or any other fishing lure company. What I want to share with you is always be on the look out for Heddon lures. They provide good value, will appreciate in value when the economy is good, are relatively easy to find and most importantly, a joy to admire and look at. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.