The W.J. Jamison Company, Chicago, Ill.

"The Coaxers"

Smilin' Bill's Most Famous Lure

(page 2 of 3 Jamison pages)

 The Coaxer lures, the first of Bill Jamison's many triumphs, were made just after the turn of the century, patented in 1905 and offered in various forms for the next 15 years. This is the very rare Frog Coaxer and Intro Box - one of two such surviving examples I'm aware of. Note the special-order Jamison "humane" barbless hooks on this spotted beauty with green felt wings.  

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Although many Coaxer boxes can be found with a little perseverance, the tiny Coaxer Underwater, frequently sold on cards, is one of  the hardest one to find in a box. The lead-weighted Coaxer Underwater Bait came in a relatively shallow box - half the height of regular Coaxer boxes - and includes  fishing instructions and the 1905 patent date.  

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 The Muskie Coaxer, circa 1910, was  was a vertable monster, suitable - its literature said - only for trolling (no casting!). This is also the largest of the Jamison boxes, measuring  six inches in length. The lure has a 2 1/2-inch body, but spans more than seven inches with trailer hook extended.  The 'patended 1905' logo appears at bottom.

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 The No. 1 Coaxer in this photo is the large size. They were made of wood and heavily enameled with paint and feathers (or horse hair). The wings were felt. Jamison's Coaxers were a staple in many tackle boxes until the 1920s, when the broadening array of lures made them less marketable to America's growing legions of anglers.

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The No. 1 Weedless Coaxer is relatively common, but this very rare, later box - complete with Smilin Bill Jamison's face in the upper left corner - is very hard to find. This example was found within a Nothern angler's estate in a retirement community near Tampa, Fla. Note the wonderful pink color on the box and matching literature.  

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The Coaxer Night Bait was Jamison's effort at "keeping up with the Jones',"  or, in the case of early tackle makers, keeping up with the Moonlight Bait Company, South Bend, Pflueger and others whose product line included glow-in-the-dark lures. This one still glows. Sometimes, late at night, it annoys my cat.

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The "Convertible Coaxer" was similar to the basic No. 1 model, with the addition of a removable belly hook and a trailing single hook that could be added to the regular tail hook. The pink brochure in the box offers detailed instructions for outsmarting the wily Black Bass. The best tip, of course, was to carry plenty of Convertible Coaxer lures.

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   Coaxer lures normally came with feathered tails, but also were available in horsehair instead. The horsehair was almost always dyed red. These "bucktail" Coaxers also had their own special box.  I've found only the No. 1 in a Bucktail box, but would like to add the No. 2 and No. 3 Coaxers in boxes to this collection.

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This No. 1 Luminous Coaxer is basically the same as the Night Coaxer Bait pictured a few frames above. My theory is that the above box was an earlier version, and this one came along later, due to its similarity to the other Coaxer boxes. yes, this one still glows, too. A brochure inside includes a fifty-cent coupon for Jamison fishing lines and bobbers.

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The No. 2 Convertible Coaxer is slightly smaller than the No. 1, and also is a little harder to find. These pre-1916 lures existed in an era in which the monstrous 5-hook minnows were popular. Tiny lures had little appeal. Ever tried to case something light with that early braided cotton or silk line after the line became wet? kinda like flying a kite made out of wet towels.

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The No. 2 Coaxer is one of the lures Bill Jamison supposedly used to whip tackle maker Ans B. Decker during the famous fishing duel in Ohio in 1910. The Coaxer landed seven fish one day and five fish the other day, with none being lost after the initial strike. I've always wanted to fish one of these baits but haven't had the nerve.

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The No. 3 Coaxer is the smallest of the standard Coaxer family (without getting into the flyrod coaxer and underwater coaxer variations). This box is harder to find than the other two, and, for some reason, is often blue-gray instead of pink or white like most of the other ones.

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