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Make sure you get what you pay for in a Newhouse trap

Last time space didn't permit me to discuss with you what to look for in making sure you're selling or buying the real deal in regards to a Newhouse trap. Here are some visual clues to look for in Newhouse traps.

The earliest Newhouse traps had only the word Newhouse on one of their springs. That was before they joined Oneida Corporation. Also, these early traps, circa 1830-47, were forged by hand.  

Such craftsmanship was very time consuming and results in much greater value than machine produced traps.

Always check the center pan for the Newhouse name. Most stamped pans carry a size number in the center with letters S. Newhouse curved around the upper Oneida Community letters. Such lettering should read left to right. On other pans, the identical lettering is printed continuously around the pan edge. These letters can vary in size somewhat and are poor indicators of the trap's age.

Having shared this information, let me state there are exceptions to every rule. It is those exceptions that have a dramatic impact on value, such as the trap illustrated in our previous article. If you find a Newhouse trap made in Canada, add more value. Look for three letters on the spring, "ONT." Traps with teeth bring more value, especially if hand forged. Hand forged teeth are much more crude looking and quite rough. Locate a Newhouse trap with the words, "Property of the United States" or "US" and you should add additional value. Look for those letters/words either on top of the jaws or on the under side of the trap. If you have the original chain add more value. If it has a hook on the chain, add more value.

This may seem simple, but it's not. The only way I can decipher these abnormalities is through the use of good books. To illustrate the complexity of this process, I am going to share an example of a Newhouse trap, which I believe is not all that it appears to be.

Pictured is what at first glance seems to be a really nice No. 3 Newhouse trap. It has the proper words on the center pan. On one of the springs it states, "S. Newhouse, Oneida Community, N.Y." That's great, just what we are looking for. One of my resources tells me the jaw spread of a No. 3 trap is 5.5 inches. This trap is very powerful and was primarily designed for otters. However, the book states, "It will hold almost any game smaller than a bear." Keep in mind a really good quality magnifying glass and super bright light greatly assists in reading these letters. A used trap can be well over 100 years old (a true antique), which results in a multitude of factors such as rust and other crud on the trap that diminishes the readability of letters. Looking at the trap you see the chain and hook. You think this trap is the diamond in the rough you have been looking for. Not so fast.  Upon closer viewing I notice a couple of odd aspects to the chain and hook. You will not see this in the photograph, but the chain is well rusted indicating age. However, it's not the same shade as the trap, which we know is the real deal.

That forces my hand to go back to the books. In none my resources do I see no No. 3 Newhouse trap with such a heavy chain. In addition, the chain is fastened to the trap in a way that is inconsistent with how Newhouse did it. My references show no such chain with hook for a No. 3. All indicators of a trap that has been modified to meet the needs of a trapper long ago.  Can I say with total uncertainty the chain is not a Newhouse product? Of course not. Do I believe the chain is an add on? Yes I do. Here's your punchline.

Robert Vance states a No. 3 Newhouse trap with small lettering, with proper cast chain is worth $300. He also indicates a No. 3 Newhouse large pan with or without date is worth $50. My point is simple. Before buying or selling a Newhouse product, get the facts so you don't get "trapped" into a poor transaction. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.