I’m guessing that most sportsmen and women, like me, have long been a collector of what many folks would label just plain ole junk. For me having grown up in an outdoor family I was hunting, fishing, and trapping at a young age.
Along with all that time spent in the outdoors comes a steady and growing supply of all kinds of odds and ends that it takes to hunt and fish. And as one would come to expect, much of that old stuff gets passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes these items go back to over a century.
Over the decades, all of that now “vintage” hunting and fishing gear has turned into a much sought after and profitable hobby or even part-time business.
If you have friends, family or distant relatives that were avid outdoorsmen, then most likely lurking somewhere in their basements, storerooms, garages and attics can be found really cool vintage hunting and fishing memorabilia.
There is almost no limit as to what collectors find appealing in the vintage sporting goods market, but as you might guess there are certain favorites. Some items, including those aside from firearms, can bring hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The older the gear the better, with condition always being a factor.
The items below are just a few categories of outdoor collectibles I’ve had specific dealings with over the years. For our purposes here I am going to sidestep the guns and look rather to some of the less-obvious items you might find in an older family or estate collection.
Vintage Hunting & Fishing Books
Ok not everyone loves old books, but hunting books from the turn of the last century, especially first editions, and those of hunting in Africa spark interest in most any outdoorsman. Hunting and fishing tales from the Americas and Asia are also very appealing.
Many times, first edition books can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the collector’s market. And what hunting room is complete without a few classic editions from the last century? Some of the more popular authors, include Roosevelt, Berger, Selous, Bell, Ruark, Corbett and in later years, Capstick.
Titles such as African Game Trails, Horned Death, African Campfire Nights, Horn of the Hunter, and Death in the Long Grass are great adventure stories and a wonderful addition to any trophy room or den.
Vintage fishing gear is without a doubt some of the most appealing sporting collectibles out there today. It’s comes as no surprise fishing odds and ends are so popular, these activities take us back to times 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. Old fishing lures seem to top the list of greatest interest here, but all related items including rods, reels, tackle boxes, creels, and minnow traps are very desirable.
Big names such as Heddon, Creek Chub, Pflueger, South Bend, and Shakespeare all are popular and even Winchester had a line of fishing tackle back in the 1920s and 1930s.
Here I’m referring to the original cardboard ammunition boxes and wooden crates that held ammo in place when shipped to hardware and sporting goods stores of days gone by.
The colors and graphics on many of these old boxes are spectacular. Companies such as Winchester, Peters, Western, and Remington 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, hunting scenes, and dogs on the front of the box enhance the interest and appeal greatly.
The above categories have barely grazed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hunting and fishing collectibles.
Other sought after items include: decoys, advertising items such as calendars, die cuts and counter top displays, animal traps and related items, game calls, knives, hatchets, lanterns, archery gear, art work/prints depicting hunting and fishing and of course classic old guns.
Bottom line, finding and collecting vintage hunting & fishing gear is just downright enjoyable, profitable, and can add much appeal to any sportsman den. But for me it’s much more than that. It’s taking me back to fond memories and reconnecting to a time of youth and cherished days afield with friends and family.
I have no doubt that you would feel the same.