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Antique fishing lures

Antique fishing lures

Native to the Adirondacks: Chairs, Guide-boats – and Fishing Lures

By Anthony F. Hall

Monday, April 11, 2011

To the double-ended guideboat and the slanting-back, wide-armed lawn chair,  add the fishing lure to the list of Adirondack products that have contributed decisively to the pleasures of summer everywhere,  says antique tackle dealer and collector Henry Caldwell.

According to Caldwell, the owner of Bolton Landing’s Black Bass Antiques,  the man credited with inventing the fishing lure was J.T. Buel, a Whitehall furrier who spent most of his time fishing and testing various baits on Lake George.

Folklore has it that Buel, born in Vermont in 1812,  was eating his lunch on the lake one day when he dropped a tea spoon overboard. As the bright silver object twisted through the water, “a fish hit it,” Caldwell said.  Buel attached some hooks to it and a crude form of the spooner was born.

Fred Streever of Bolton Landing, O.C. Tuttle of Old Forge and Williams and  Woodbury of Diamond Point were among other local manufacturers of fishing lures, said Caldwell.

Live bait spring hooks, he said, were invented on Schroon Lake.

New York’s thousands of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams also made it the home of the reel, according to Caldwell. “More patents were issued for reels from New York State than from any other state,” he said.

Antique fishing tackle is now highly collectible, according to Caldwell. “Fishing is the largest participatory sport in the world,” he said. “There’s a long history to it, and people want to know more about the sport. They may start with the tackle they grew up fishing with, and go from there.”

Like most other collectibles,  value is established by rarity.  Items fetch anything from a few dollars to thousands of dollars,  but things of value can still be found in yard sales, flea markets and junk shops.

Caldwell said his collecting began at an early age, as a boy, fishing on Lake George and exchanging lures with his brothers.

Like many another fishermen, he discovered that while fish were not always been attracted to his lures, he found them irresistible.

Asked how soon he knew some lures were valuable, he said, not soon enough.

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Framed Painting by Barney Bellinger

Framed Painting by Barney Bellinger

Black Bass Antiques Features Prominent Rustic Artist

By Mirror Staff

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Barney Bellinger’s work is exhibited at the Adirondack Museum, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and in New York galleries.

It’s now on view in Bolton Landing as well, at Black Bass Antiques, where owner Henry Caldwell has dedicated a portion of the shop to a display of Bellinger’s furniture, paintings and decorative pieces.

“Last summer I participated in a small group show at Silver Bay, which was very successful,” says Bellinger. “That showed me that there was a great deal of interest in the kind of work I do on the lake, so I thought it would be nice to try to exhibit some pieces here in Bolton Landing.”

Bellinger and Caldwell have known each other for years, so Black Bass was an obvious place for Bellinger’s mini-gallery.

“Henry didn’t know what I was going to do; he didn’t even ask what I was going to do,” says Bellinger.

According to Henry Caldwell, “Barney Bellinger is one of the foremost Adirondack artisans working today. Having some of his pieces here only enhances the appeal of my shop.”

Bellinger painted walls, installed lighting and selected a few representative pieces for the room, including a mirror made from antique fly rods, a table that incorporates oars and samples of his signature work: pieces of furniture decorated with his own finely detailed landscape paintings.

Desk by Barney Bellinger

Given that he’s such an accomplished artist, people assume that Bellinger studied painting or furniture design  in graduate school or at least in college.

In fact, as he cheerfully admits, he’s entirely self-taught, an artist who learned his craft pinstriping motorcycles and painting signs.

He grew up, however, on the periphery of the Adirondack Park, and days spent in the woods with his grandfather, a onetime logger, “must have left a deep impression on me, deeper than I realized at the time,”  he says.

Bellinger didn’t start making rustic furniture until the 1990s. He exhibited his first pieces at one of the Adirondack Museum’s first annual Rustic Furniture Fairs and has been making and selling one-of-a-kind pieces ever since.

“I have clients all over the world,” says Bellinger. While the popularity of the rustic style has led to a proliferation of poorly designed, poorly made pieces, the demand for furniture and furnishings that are works of art in themselves remains constant,  Bellinger says.

“People gravitate toward the rustic style because it suggests a slower, quieter way of life,” he says.  “It evokes nostalgia for the natural world and allows people to incorporate the outdoors into their daily lives.”

Black Bass’s gallery also contains 19th century paintings of Lake George and the Adirondacks selected by Bernard Brown and available through Bernard R. Brown Fine Art.

Black Bass is located on Bolton Landing’s Main Street. Call 644-2389 for more information.

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