Fact: Everyone has
problems when grading older lures or boxes because it is totally subjective.
an adjective; of or resulting from the feelings of the person
thinking; not objective; a personal feeling or opinion)
Visual values vary
considerably from person to person. As we all know, not everyone has good taste
or appreciation for details. (What other explanation is there for people who buy
ugly dogs?) Being old is no excuse for poor condition. I don't know how
many times I've heard a guy lecture me on the fact that: "these lures are over
80 years old you know, so you have to expect a few chips and scrapes". And I
reply, "True, sir, but the price will have to adjust accordingly for the chips
and scrapes!" If you've got chips and scrapes, then we are not talking excellent
condition or excellent prices.
Mint or New In
- Mint means perfect and
untouched, new, unfished, no crazing, and unused.
- Mint is as new from the
factory. New! No flaws whatever, even the varnish is completely
- Mint is the way they looked the
day they were put in the box at the factory.
- Excellent means an almost new
lure. It has some minor, and I do mean minor, defects like tiny pointers
or a tiny varnish flake. These lures will be in almost new
condition and most likely never having seen water.
- You don't have to make excuses
for a lure in excellent condition.
- Excellent means there is
nothing missing from the paint or varnish. The paint will be shiny and not
dull. Dull dirty paint or baits exposed to gasoline will not have a
- With Excellent, there are no
paint chips, no varnish flakes, but there may be a ring around the belly
weight. Expect very minor unopened age cracks or some 'crazing' of the varnish
which is exampled below.
Examples: below are
two early c. 1913-1920 Shakespeare underwater minnows in absolute Excellent
condition. The paint is glossy or "lipstick shiny". There is no crazing, no
chips near the tail or nose prop, no hook drags, and no varnish flakes. The
hardware is shiny and there is no rust. This is really into the level of Excellent plus or mint.
This is what I collect...!
Excellent has two parts:
- An Excellent plus lure means
there are no hook pointers in the paint, absolutely no hook scrapes, no paint
off the belly weight, no paint chips and no varnish flakes. The paint is
shiny, but there may be some age related crazing or very minor fracture cracks
in the varnish or paint.
- Excellent minus allows for some
minor varnish defects, but no paint loss other than maybe very, very minor
chips at the tail or belly weight, and no hook drags. Hooks should be
consistent with the paint finish.
Please note: Since I
don't collect lures in grades less than Excellent Minus, the rest (very good,
good, fair, average) is academic so I don't cover those grades in detail here,
but they are covered below by example...
The following are
terms and illustrations of defects which alter the grade of a lure. No one
defect will set the grade, but these are the types of problems which
differentiate between excellent and excellent minus or between excellent minus
and very good.
the photo there is one pointer near the tail area on the black back.
Depending on the extent and
number, pointers are not a huge factor unless the bait is being passed as
mint or excellent. The more pointers the lower the grade.
Large and deep pointers like those on this red and black spotted lure can
drop a grade to Very Good
Usually in reference to varnish flakes which are the result of the
varnish sticking to something and being pulled off the paint, or an
actual varnish chip down to, but not including the paint color.
Varnish flakes can and will down-grade a lure if there are more than
just a few and it also depends on the extent of the area covered by the
flakes and where they occur.
illustrates multiple (severe) varnish flaking on the belly. Flakes
can be a big factor in down-grading depending on the extent. How
much you count paint off the belly weight is a personal call since so many
baits have this problem it almost seems the be the norm, but that is no
excuse. Paint off is paint off...downgrade it. This lure would grade
The red and
green spotted, five sided, Heddon series 00 below is notorious for flaked
varnish due to all the sharp edges. This one is in Excellent minus or
perhaps Very Good plus, plus
due to a couple of light varnish rubs (lighter areas) between the cups.
There is a ring around the belly weight, but no paint loss (yet!). There
are no hook drags, no chips into the paint, no significant cracks.
exhibits extensive, rather than minor or micro crazing. It's a personal
choice as to the effect on the grading. As it gets more extensive,
it is a detriment. In older Heddons, if minor, it can be an asset
to determine authenticity.
example shows a semi circular mark made by the hooks as they swing around.
Typically this problem quickly down-grades the condition into the Very good range.
Separation of the paint or varnish down to the wood and not normal.
Cracks are a source of water getting to the wood and producing swelling which
causes the paint to flake or pop off in large sections.
illustration, there are both age crazing and the one deep crack into the
wood. This is more a personal problem than a big deal in the
grading. It depends on the extent of the crack, but usually a reason to
down grade the lure.
Paint loss in varying sizes, but usually down to the wood. The chip in this
green crackleback paint is typical of one down to the wood.
Paint chips are the biggest single problem which will down-grade a lure.
If there are paint chips down to the wood, then the lure is not going to grade
much above Very Good
|A chip this
size starts this lure grade at very good minus and other factors might
take it down further. Chips or paint loss are a very big deal in grading.
You got chips down to the wood, you got problems! This chip
would keep this lure in the Good
range at best.
(a.k.a. lipstick shiny, slick, wet) A term used to describe the slick, smooth,
non-dull, quality of well preserved paint which has not been subjected to
chemicals or intense light. The opposite of the shiny surface would be dull,
dirty, and lifeless paint as a result of exposure to chemicals, light, dirt,
or use. Degree in either direction determines plus or minus grade. This
is a factor you want to see on excellent grade lures.
a lure that is in less than Average condition. Not collectible, but useful for
Smooth paint or varnish loss via rubbing, not a chip, not a flake, but more
than likely due to rubbing against a hard object like a box top or being
deeply cleaned. Depending on the extent, a factor, but not a big deal
Typically adding new varnish, gill marks, or an attempt to match the existing
antique paint with new paint to hide a defect. A no-no and automatically
removes the lure from being a collectible.
a lure body that has been repainted by an arts and crafts person. Not
something that should be in the tackle collecting scene. If properly marked, a
curiosity fit for shadow box displays used by interior decorators and walls in
sports bars. Is that clear?
The result of a plastic worm being left against lure paint for an extended
time. Typically the paint melts and leaves a messy goo where the worm was in
contact. Causes a burn like mark similar to what a cigarette does to Formica
or a laminated furniture surface. Typically earns the lure a 'hangs well'
grade, but eliminates it from anything above average.
What some of us get when we start rationalizing how valuable a ratty old lure
is because of its age.
some examples of Lesser Quality lures:
Below, is a Heddon
100 that has a number of problems which would rate it as only Good to Average
Problems: Large areas
of varnish flakes, scrapes, pointers to the wood. When this much varnish and
paint are scraped or flaked off, then you are into Average at best.
This 100 has a couple
of problems. Note the paint chips to the wood on the tail. The usual
fine cracks are too extensive. Although 'crazing' is normal for
baits this age, in this case it's too extensive.. It appears the larger cracks
are deep and most likely there will be future flaking of the paint because the
cracks are so large and extensive. This bait would then only grade
There are multiple pointers, and flaking of the varnish. Average.
Below, is a
Shakespeare 5 hook Musky as an example of a great old rare (c. 1907) bait which
has been subjected to cleaning the varnish as well as some of the paint off down
to the white primer. (Many Shakespeares get cleaned to the point where they
become "white" lures.) There are hook drags in to the paint. It has paint off
the sides, belly weight, and tail down to the wood. No matter how you grade this
bait, it grades as Fair to Poor.
Mint--Box should look like it came
off the shelf. Crisp, no dirt, corners sharp, and no wear. All lettering crisp
and clear. Price tags or written price should not detract. Structure of
the box must be stiff and unwarped. No water marks or sunlight
will have very minor wear to the corners and some wear around the edges. All
wording and lettering should be clear. No rips or tears. Price tags or
written price should not detract. Structure of the box must be stiff
and unwarped. No
water marks or sunlight damage.
will have wear to corners and wear around edges. Box may have light soiling
or light water marks. Box may have very minor tears (e.g., paper label
applied that is starting to peel up) or very small dents. Some of the
lettering may be slightly worn. Structure is still there, box will be
square at corners and along panels. No mushyness to the side or tops.
will have dirt, stains or water marks. Probably looks "dingy" overall.
Lettering will be worn, but you should be able to read part of it. Box may
have tears or repairs with tape. Structure may be distorted and joints
of the box may be split. Sides of box are not straight or stiff.
readable lettering. Stains, soiling, with tears or parts of the box missing
(end flap, etc.). Structure is gone, box not stiff or squared.
Sides, bottom or top are mushy due to water damage.