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Determining The Collector Condition
Of Your Old Lures & Lure Boxes
If you want to know the value of an old lure you own, there is help available from many lure sites. First you should find a site that specializes in the maker of your bait. For instance, if you have a Creek Chub lure, you may receive more accurate information from someone that collects or deals in these baits. Before contacting anyone for advice it is important for you to gather as much information about the lure as possible. The educational section of Creekspeak has many studies that will help you ID a Creek Chub lure series, the color, & this study which shows you how to grade a lure. After identifying a lure, one of the most important questions to be answered is the lure's "grade" which is shorthand for the exact condition of the bait. In fact, whenever collectors inquire about a lure, one of the first questions they ask is "what is the condition" or "what's the grade"? If you decide to let the appraiser do all the work I assure you it will be a frustrating experience. An example of an ill-conceived email might read something like this "I have a Creek Chub broken back fishing lure that has a date on the metal mouth. How old is it & is it worth anything?" This isn't enough information to identify this lure let alone evaluate your old bait.
If you start so poorly here is what you should expect:

1. Some collectors won't bother to answer.
2. This is a classic example of what I call the beginning of an "emailathon".
After 8 or 10 emails you may have your answer unless the collector finally gives up in despair because
your information come in such small doses.

If you follow the guidelines in this article your chances of success will be vastly improved.
In this case here are a few details that you need to include in your first message:

1. What length is the lure (don't count the metal lip, if present)?
2. Are the eyes glass or another material?
3. Is there a name on the lure's back?
4. A single or double fishing line tie?
5. What style of metal lip & is it marked?
6. What is the exact color (check my color charts)?
7. What is the exact condition?

These are the most important questions that need defining before we can proceed! The last question is one of the most difficult for an amateur to answer. You may assume the lure is "excellent for its age" when in fact it might be a well-worn example that has little collector interest. You see, in the world of collectible fishing lures, even the slightest mars, pinpricks caused by the hooks (called pointers), age lines in the paint, cracks, & any other flaws deflate the value & perhaps the collector interest.

In reality a lure that is 70 years old should be held to the same scrutiny as a 10-year-old example.
I'm not implying a lure in less than perfect condition is unworthy. It depends on the lure in question.
Some very rare specimens have great value in less than stellar condition but these are by far the exception to the rule.

Again, the main focus here is to assist you in assigning the correct grade on each of your old lures.
Armed with this information & other data available in the educational section of Creekspeak you will be able to
ask & answer the right questions. This will facilitate a smooth communication thus preventing the dreaded "emailathon."
Please remember the person helping you with this FREE information has only so much time to offer for each inquiry.

If you follow the written descriptions & match them to the accompanying images, you should be an expert in grading lures post haste. One of the most debatable areas in the world of collectibles is the condition of an item. You see, it is all about perception & experience. Grading is subjective not objective. Simply, it isn't a science. However, you will present a much clearer idea to anyone giving you assistance once you master this chart & have defined the grade/condition of your lure.


We will be addressing WOODEN lures. Plastics often have similar problems but also unique differences
(e.g. material deterioration) that won't be covered here.
Don't email a picture of your lure unless the person helping you requests it.
Many users don't want to download an attachment from a stranger.
Also, a well written description is much more exacting. Pictures often "hide" minor imperfections.

NIB or MIB "New in the Box" or "Mint In The Box": As stated the lure must be in perfect condition without any damage. Any hook pointers, rub, age lines or other detracting mars disqualify it from this category. Usually the box isn't in perfect condition so the conditon of the box needs to be defined also. There should be a number on the end of the box. If it is the original box, this coded number will help ID the lure series and the color.
Note: many old lures aren't in their original boxes. Check my other educationl charts for help on this.
M MINT: Some collectors never use this term for lures because it is a coin collecting term. Instead they might use Excellent++. However, it does denote a perfect lure without any flaws after the lure left the factory. Sometimes a lure can have some slight paint flaws or a minor surface disturbance that was caused when it was produced. These are difficult to determine by a non-collector. These factory imperfections are much different than later damage caused by use or improper care. In any case, factory flaws should be mentioned in the lure's description. This condition is the same as NIB or MIB except there isn't a lure box.
The following grades are often accompanied with a + or a - sign which adds or subtracts 1/2 grade (e.g. Excellent+).
This is splitting hairs but supposedly denotes a lure that is better and EX but not quite Mint.
EX EXCELLENT: A beautiful example with the slightest flaws. Some may be difficult to see with the naked eye. Examples of flaws would be very light age lines in the paint (not cracks), a teeny pointer or two caused by the hooks. If you see a road map of age lines or other well defined "hurts", the lure won't meet this exacting codition.
VG VERY GOOD: A VG lure may still exhibit bright paint and nice "eye appeal". Upon closer examination, there is simply too much use and wear plus a combination of many pointers and/or excessive age lines. Perhaps there will be crazing or cracked glass eyes on lures produced with this feature. Sometimes there will be heavier cracks in the paint where the wood shows through.
G GOOD: You won't see this grade listed too often because most collectors don't handle this condition unless they find the lure in an old tackle box or it is a very rare example. A lure in this grade exhibits heavy use and will often display some or all of the following: paint chipping, heavy age lines & cracks, excessive wear, multiple pointers & possibly an arc of hook damage into the wood caused by the hooks swinging back and forth during trolling.
AVG AVERAGE: Once a lure descends below VG condition, there is little if any collector interest except for the rarest instance. The lack of aesthetics usually relegates these veterans to the bargain pile. Expect paint loss, chipping, heavy use. As a side note, the value of a lure in these lower grades is usually a tiny fraction of an EX to Mint lure.
FR FAIR: It becomes very subjective when grading lures in the GOOD, AVERAGE & FAIR categories. Actually, most collectors don't care. These grades are often collectively dubbed "beaters". Expect major paint loss, heavy chipping and other defects. They are usually either given to young collectors to get them started, used to fish with, or thrown aside so hardware (hooks, lips, etc.) can eventually be pirated from them for a better lure that is missing a part.
P POOR: The appearance of a lure in this category is so bad that almost defies description. It is a specimen that has been exposed to the weather or salvaged from a body of water where it has been lost for eons. No one would be interested in this grade except someone who wanted to salvage the body to repaint it. Usually, the hardware has suffered too much to be reused. Some body parts or hardware may be missing.
RP REPAINT: Not actually a condition of a lure, but listed by the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club, so I'm including it here. Any lure could be used as a project for a repaint. No grade should be assigned to this type lure. It should be listed as a repaint with possible notes regarding the condition of the hardware and eyes. The specimen shown here is an obvious rework.
I hope thises detailed descriptions and images help you in decided the correct condition of your lure. Good luck.


The two piece cardboard bait boxes were a mainstay at CCBCo for over 45 years. Some baits used them longer than others.
It is commonly knows the correct numbered box will add interest and value to a lure.
A LETTER code is part of the label on the earliest boxes. This was followed by large stamped numbers, end labels, and more stamped numbers.
When grading two piece lure boxes, they should ALL be held to the same standards without regard to style or age!
Some may argue that the earliest boxes should hardly be held to the same scrutiy as a common later lure box.
I believe this lack of standardization for all boxes only clouds the issue, resulting in a lack of comunication between hobbyists.
Also, any stains, pen marks, soilig, scrapes, fading, crumpling, stickers or other damage should be mentioned
with a description of a grade.
M MINT: Some dealers/collectors disagree with this term. Call this grade what you want as long as it's understood the box is as it left CCBCo - factory fresh, brand new! No rub, no extra markings, no stain or color change.
EX EXCELLENT: All colors should be bright and without fading. There won't be any color bleed from dampness. Slightest rub to box edges. The background color should retain its factory hue. No change in coloration as seen when boxes age. Obvioiusly, no damage. As usual, any minor non-factory markings or other problems should be noted.
F FINE: Most sellers define Very Good then jump to Excellent. I see another grade between these two without deferring to the +++ or --- system. The surfaces are brighter than the lower grades. The colors are bold depicting little fade. The white background on the "fish" boxes has toned to a cream hue. Expect some rub to the corners. Overall, a crisp box that is attractive and sound as a (silver) dollar!
VG VERY GOOD: Brighter than a good grade but would still look odd with a high grade lure. Expect light soiling and possible stain here and there. Will have wear to edges and show much use. Sound construction. Not in relic condition but definitely not super bright or attractive.
G GOOD: An acceptable box for rare color and bait combos. However, the condition of the lure should match the box. Otherwise a mint bait would look out of character in a low grade box. It will show soiling, much wear, but should be reasoably sound and display all the text and/or graphics. Expect a seam break and possible other non-factory writing or store labels.
FR FAIR: A box in this condition has little value unless it has a rare number on the end of the box. One possible use is for storing or transporting lures to and from shows. Displays HEAVY soiling, crumpling, fading, scrapes, possible color bleed from dampness, corner or surface breaks. In other words, it has seen much better days.