What’s in Your Attic? Collecting Hunting and Fishing Memorabilia
Terry Nelson 05.21.20
I have long been a collector of what many folks would call just plain old junk. Having grown up in an outdoor family I learned to hunt, fish, and trap at a young age. With that goes a steady and growing supply of all the odds and ends that it takes to harvest game and fish. Over the decades much of that old outdoor gear has turned into a sometimes a very profitable hobby or even part-time business. Do you have family, friends or distant relatives that were avid outdoorsmen? If so, then somewhere lurking in their attics, basements, garages, and storerooms probably lies some very interesting, collectible, and possibly valuable hunting and fishing memorabilia.
There is almost no limit as to what collectors find appealing in the outdoor collectible market, but as you might guess there are some favorites. Firearms top the list as to value and overall interest but there are many others. Ammunition boxes, fishing lures and reels, decoys, game calls, archery gear, pocket knives, and books that describe adventures from long ago sportsmen are but a few of the hot collectibles today. Some items, including some outside the firearm realm, can bring hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When top dollar is commanded, condition means everything—the more pristine, the more valuable.
Outlined below are just a few of the categories of outdoor collectibles I’ve had specific dealings with, for our purposes here I am going to sidestep the gun category but look rather at a few of the less-obvious valuable items you might find in an old family or estate collection.
Here I’m speaking of the original cardboard ammunition boxes that held ammo in place. Even the old wooden crates that ammo was shipped in to the dealers have much desire and interest. Companies such as Winchester, Peters, Western, and Robin Hood are just a few that top the collectible list. Shotshell, rifle, and rimfire boxes are all of interest. Among those, 410 shotshells and 22 rimfire boxes seem to garner the most attention. Boxes with game or hunting scenes on the front of the box are also very desirable.
It’s no wonder fishing odds and ends are so popular. It takes us back wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends on the banks of a stream or lake. I still have much of my dad’s fishing tackle and it’s priceless to me. Lures seem to top the list of greatest interest here, but all related items including reels, rods, tackle boxes, creels, and minnow traps are very desirable. Names such as Heddon, Creek Chub, Pflueger, South Bend, and Shakespeare all are popular. Even Winchester had a line of fishing tackle back in the 1920s and 1930s.
Hunting and Fishing Books
I love hunting books from the turn of the last century, especially first editions, and those of hunting in Africa. A few of the more popular authors, include Roosevelt, Berger, Selous, Bell, Ruark, and in later years, Capstick. Titles such as African Game Trails, Horned Death, African Campfire Nights, and The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter are great adventure stories and first editions of any of these can bring hundreds of dollars or more.
I have barely grazed the tip of the iceberg with the items listed here. Hopefully it has sparked your interest and curiosity. Collecting vintage hunting & fishing gear is just downright enjoyable, interesting, and can be very profitable. But for many it means more than that, connecting us back to a time of youth and cherished days afield with those we cared most about. Perhaps you should go look and see, what’s in your attic?