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Coldwater Bait Company and Eureka Bait Company

Coldwater, Michigan

Sometime around 1913, Sam Larrabee of Coldwater, Michigan received a patent on one of the first wooden plugs whose action was dependent upon water forced through a hole in the chin that exited on the sides or belly. Thus was born the Coldwater Bait Company, one of Michigan's classic early lure makers. The relationship between Coldwater, Eureka Bait Co. and the W.E. Phinney Bait Co. remains a little muddled to this day, but the three companies intermittently made some of the century's finest  antique fishing lures in a little town not far from Kalamazoo, Mich., home to Rhodes and Shakespeare.



Coldwater Hell Diver

The Coldwater Helldiver was a diving bait. This one is unusual in that it has glass eyes. The picture box features the patent date of May 14, 1918. This lure is later than the Phinney's example picture below. Shakespeare eventually bought and manufactured this lure in later years. Glass-eyed Coldwaters are rare.


The Coldwater Skipper is somewhat of a mystery. It has the body of a Coldwater Wiggler, with one exit hole, and the added feature of a front propeller. This is a one-of-a-kind piece as far as I know, and was found in Michigan by well-known collector Riley Smith, who very graciously allowed it to be traded into this collection.  The labeled box is identical in size to the Phinney Helldiver box shown above, and likely has  Phinney's label underneath.

Coldwater King

Both Coldwater and Eureka made the classic "Coldwater King" bait with four or five separate line ties. The Coldwater version to the right has a rectangular lip with four line ties, and matches the picture on the box, which is dated Sept. 11, 1917. The green back blends to a white belly. It also came in luminous finish.


Eureka King 

Here is the Eureka King - another version of the Coldwater King. Notice the pointed, triangular front lip with five line ties, and how it matches the picture on the box, which also carries the 1917 date. Many people can't tell the difference between Coldwater and Eureka lures. I hope this lessens the mystery. Note the frog spot finish.