January 26, 2012
Vintage Tackle Contest: The Virgin Mermaid
By Joe Cermele
And now for something a little bit racy in our ongoing vintage tackle contest. Avert your eyes, kids. This entry from Eric Leebens isn't exactly G rated. All I can say is, if you bought a few of those novelty Budweiser can lures to go with this topless beauty, it would be like a bachelor party in your tackle box. Eric wrote:
I received this unusual mermaid lure this holiday season from my mother-in-law, who acquired it from an elderly friend. The elderly friend said it belonged to her husband, who likely purchased it in the 1950's or 1960's. Any idea when/where this lure was made, a name it might have, and whether it could attract any lunkers?.
Will it attract any lunkers? I'm betting no. But Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog can certainly tell us if it will attract any buyers at a tackle show. Dr. Todd says:
"Ah, yes. The siren's call of the mermaid, who in legend and lore led many an angler to an untimely demise. Or in this case, the untimely demise of his hard earned cash. What you have is a Virgin Mermaid Lure manufactured by the Stream-Eze Company of South Bend, Indiana in the 1940s and 1950s. Judging by how often they appear, it is probably the most successful "novelty" lure ever sold. Advertised heavily as the bait that "lures both men and fish," it was certainly a risque plug for that era. I'm not saying it's the worst fish catcher in history, but I honestly believe if you put hooks on a Barbie doll you'd outfish this lure. It was available (naturally) in blond, brunette, and redhead and in a variety of sizes and styles. Not surprisingly, it has tremendous collector interest. Yours looks like the traditional bass size and would be worth $30-$40, but keep in mind there were also Virgin Mermaids for the fly rod that can sell for as much as $300. To see examples of all three styles, click here. "
There you go, Eric. That old gal's moneymaker can still shake you $30 or $40! I'd hang on to that lure. It's just too cool. Excellent find, and thanks for giving us a laugh. Enjoy the Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife that's headed your way.
If you've already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven't and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to email@example.com, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife (below, $70).