For fishing buffs, William Shakespeare was the bard of tackle and the poet of the lure. Shakespeare’s gear changed the way the world fished—from his 1896 reel that wound fishing line evenly onto a spool to his 1939 Backlash Brake for the Wondereel, one of the most popular fishing reels ever made.

Shakespeare founded his company in 1897—his patented level-wind reel would be the company’s first flagship product. Shakespeare’s second act came in 1900, when his dozen-employee company introduced the Wood Revolution, a three-treble-hook wooden plug whose bug-like body was divided by an aluminum collar and a pair of spinning propellers.

During the first decade of the 20th century, aluminum versions of the Revolution followed, as did rubber Sure-Lures, Evolution lures, and Frogs (one "mechanical" frog had legs that kicked when the line was pulled). Floating and submerged wooden Minnow lures were also a staple of this early Shakespearian era.

After taking a break during World War I to manufacture mortar fuses and carburetors for the war effort, the company regrouped in the 1920s to expand its line of reels, rods, and lures. The Hercules was the company’s "heavy-duty" reel; the nickel-plated Beetzel was designed to automatically release the line on a spool when the rod was cast. The Marhoff featured elegant black Bakelite detailing (it is a real catch for collectors of antique and vintage fishing reels) while the open architecture of the Shakespeare Hoosier appears downright primitive to contemporary eyes.

The 1920s also saw the introduction of the Bass-A-Lure, whose large, metal, lower lip caused the lure to dive enticingly when the line was retrieved by the angler. The Mermaid lures had white or red heads and shapely bodies, while the Swimming Mouse had glass eyes, a pair of treble hooks for legs, and a delicate, whipping tail.

For Shakespeare, the biggest event of the 1930s, other than the marvelous Jim Dandy, Sea Witch, and Barnacle Bill lures, was the invention of the Wondereel in 1939. This reel would go on to become one of the bestselling fishing products ever—not even World War II, when the company turned its attention to the manufacture of planes, tanks, and jeeps, could derail its popularity.

After the war, Shakespeare focused its attention on fishing tackle rather than lures. In 1947, William’s son Henry, who was now running his father’s company, introduced the first fiberglass fishing rod, blowing the competition out of the water. A push-button Wondercast spinning reel followed in the early 1950s, and by 1966 Shakespeare had purchased one of its biggest competitors, Pflueger.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Joes Old Lures

Joes Old Lures

Joe Yates' website is a great showcase for hundreds of old fishing lures, providing high resolution photos and in m… [read review or visit site]

Mrlurebox.com

Mrlurebox.com

Take a big bite - you won't want to just nibble at Robbie Pavey's gallery of over 300 antique fishing lures, many w… [read review or visit site]

AntiqueLures.com

AntiqueLures.com

This extensive site features over 500 pages of information on pre-1940 wood fishing lures and lure boxes. Start wit… [read review or visit site]

Oldfishinglure.com

Oldfishinglure.com

This site is sure to snag you with its great collection of fishing lures from the early 1900s. Includes lures from … [read review or visit site]

TackleCollecting.com

TackleCollecting.com

Larry Nicholson's site dedicated to vintage fishing lures. Features beautiful images of lures and boxes from Fred A… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Shakespeare 3-hook Underwater Minnow Old Fishing Lure Glass EyesVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure IiiVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure 9Vintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure IiVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure ViiVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure ViiiVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure VVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure Vi1934-1951 Kalamazoo (shakespeare) No.1706 "american Boy" Jeweled Casting ReelVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure IVintage William Shakespeare Antique Fishing Lure IvAntique Ca. 1910 Shakespeare Evolution Hard Rubber Fishing LureVintage Fly Fishing Reel Shakespeare Russell 1892 Model He Reel Mostly PerfectOld Vintage Shakespeare Super Wondereel 1925 Ga Reel Double Spacer Nice!! BoxVintage Shakespeare Rhoads Minnow Very Nice Glass Eyes9 Old Wooden Shakespeare LuresVintage Shakespeare Mouse Fishing LureOld Vintage Shakespeare Service 1946 Fa Reel In Box Nice!! Wide Spool FishingShakespeare Steelhead Trout Reel 1899, Vintage Fly Fishing ReelVintage Shakespeare Wondereel Model 1810Vintage Pflueger Medalist 1495 1/2 Ak W/ Line Pre Shakespeare Nice Condition(a)Old Vintage Shakespeare Deluxe Wondereel 1922 Fk Reel Single Spacer Fishing BoxVintage Antique Fishing Lure Shakespeare South Bend Heddon ?Antique Shakespeare Miller Autocrat Model He Salt Water Big Game Fishing ReelLot Of 8 Shakespeare Midget Sea Witch Saltwater LuresShakespeare Fishing Reel 2052 Ec Very Good Condition (1966-1970s)Old Vintage Marbled Shakespeare Marhoff 1964 Hd Reel Fishing Tackle Box Lure RodVintage Unknown Fishing LureOld Vintage Green Shakespeare President 1970a Fh Reel Double Spacer Fishing BoxLot Of Vintage Fishing Lures Nib Heddon Shakespear Arbogast No Reserve2 Shakespeare Model 1777 1799 Wonder Cast Fishing Casting Reel In Box + Extra'sVintage Antique Fishing Lure Shakespeare South Bend Heddon ?Vintage Wood Fishing Lures Heddon Creek Chub Shakespeare Pflueger South BendShakespeare No 1770 Cast Or Spin Wondereel Fishing ReelShakespeare Special 6547 Vintage Old Wooden Fishing Lure W/ Box Yellow & BlackShakespeare Fishing Reel-model 2052Vintage Old Wood Shakespeare Lucky Dog Fishing Lure For Your Tackle Box Nice!!Vintage Shakespeare Wonderod Spinning Rod 7' 2 PcShakespeare Shiner MinnowVintage Fishing Lure Wooden Shakespeare Minnow Green Back Glass Eyes Gem Clip 2- Vintage Fly Rods- Shakespeare Wonderod Fy100 W Auto Reel & Fy-a310 Wonderod!!7 Old Bait Casting Reels Pflueger Shakespeare Ocean City Reel CollectionVintage Unused In Box Shakespeare 599 Model Dk Casting ReelRare Shakespeare Glass Eyed LureVintage Old Wood Shakespeare Dalton Special Fishing Lure For Your Tackle BoxOld Vintage Green Shakespeare Marhoff 1964 Gk Reel Nice Fishing Tackle Box Rod~ Shakespeare Revolution Old Fishing Lure ~Shakespeare President Ii Free Spool Casting ReelShakespeare Vintage Wood Darter Lure Tough Color!9 Vintage Bait Cast Reels ~ Pflueger ~ Coxe ~ Shakespeare ~ Bronson ~ Ward'sShakespeare Silent Tru-art Automatic Fly Fishing Reel No 1835 Model GbVintage Antique Fishing Lure Shakespeare South Bend Heddon ? Vintage Antique Fishing Lure Shakespeare South Bend Heddon ?Mm19) 2 Vintage Shakespeare Casting Fishing Reels: Marhoff And SportcastMint Shakespeare Silent Tru-art Automatic Fly Reel New In Box No.1837 Model EcVintage Fly Reel Lot Of 2 Spool Only Shakespeare Pflueger Medalist 1594 Rc Estate Sale Nr Vintage Shakespeare 2081 Spinning Reel Made In UsaPflueger Medalist 1494 Cj With New Spool No. 497x--nice4 Old Fishing Lures South Bend Pflueger Creek Chub Woods Shakespeare CollectionVintage Green Shakespeare No.1910 Light Weight Deuce Fishing Reel In Box