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June 17, 2021 - Vol. 16, No. 1

Hinkle Lizard

Joseph B. Hinkle - Louisville, Kentucky
Elmer Deuster - Wisconsin
D-M Lures (Deuster-Machtig) - Wisconsin

Hinkle Lizard in Box Green Color

This edition of Lure Lore features one of my favorite miscellaneous baits. One that covers both Wisconsin and Kentucky collectors, the Hinkle Lizard.

You often hear that fishing lures are designed as much to catch fishermen as they are to catch fish. I think that certainly applies to this lure. The Hinkle Lizard is an early plastic jointed lizard fishing lure really ahead of its time in design. Double jointed and with an offset "outrigger" hook setup on one of the sets of hooks similar to a Helin Flatfish, it is really unlike anything else you will find. Production began in 1949 by Joseph Hinkle in Louisville, Kentucky. He applied for a patent in March of 1949 and was granted patent number 2,618,092 on November 18, 1952. As you can see from the patent image the lure contained some through wire construction through the plastic body. The two halves were then marine glued together.

1954 Hinkle Lizard Kentucky Newspaper Ad

Sometime around 1954 the partnership of Elmer Deuster and August "Augie" Machtig (possibly Elmer Deuster at first and later in partnership with Machtig, conflicting stories) purchased the rights and all remaining stock of the Hinkle Lizard. Duester and Machtig were lure makers in Wisconsin more famously known in the lure collecting community for their Gopher musky lure. Previous research had shown that this purchase was done in 1954 but I'm not 100% convinced of that date being firm. The above ad is one that I discovered recently that may actually shed light on a slightly later date (or not). Hard evidence of the actual date is probably lost forever to history but it is probably sometime around this time period.

The Wisconsin distribution of this bait mainly focused on assembling the several thousand bait bodies they purchased and distributing in the same yellow boxes but now with a Milwaukee address imprinted on the side. Note this address was the bowling alley that Deuster ran, Deuster's Lanes, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Once they ran out of the boxes they began to assemble them into bags with a cardboard topping. Red, an extremely rare color in a marked box, is now much more common to find in this bagged version. The bagged lizard was eventually renamed and marketed as Sally the Hooker Salamander lure and marketed under D-M Lures (Deuster-Machtig Lures). It also now included a collar around the neck joint and a diving lip. These are additions / improvements obviously made to try to improve the action and fishability of the lure. These two changes take what was once a surface lure and allow it to dive while holding the first two sections together.

Even after the sale to Deuster-Machtig it appears that Hinkle was still somewhat involved. Hinkle was apparently a "snow bird" and wintered in Florida. He must have had an agreement to keep selling some of the Lizards even after the sale as there are marketing pieces and Lizards with a Florida address and "picture" box. It is essentially a piece of the marketing cut out and glued onto the yellow box. These are the rarest of the Hinkle Lizard boxes to find by far. I can also confirm that these were found mixed in with Deuster inventory after he shut down so there must have been some Hinkle / Deuster collaboration.

Eventually Deuster and Machtig would shut down their business in the early in 1960's. Elmer would later sell off all of his excess inventory to a Wisconsin collector advertising in a local newspaper for vintage fishing lures. Decades later I would purchase these remaining lures including experimental colors from this collectors family after his death. You can see a photo of some of these special colors below. Notice the beautiful marbleized colors!

Hinkle Lizard Case with Experimental Colors

Below are the three ages of boxes the Hinkle Lizard came in.

  • The oldest box is on the one on the bottom with the Kentucky address: 505 Augustus Ave, Louisville, KY.
  • The second oldest is the middle box and has the Deuster's Lanes Wisconsin address stamped on the side: 6315 W. Fond du Lac Ave. Milwaukee, Wis. 53218 (note some books incorrectly show the address as 5315 vs. the correct 6315)
  • The last box is the box and it is the rarest. It is the one that Joe marketed in Florida afterwards apparently although a couple of these were also found with some extra Wisconsin stock. Note the label glued on the top of the box. It now also has has a "label" glued, taped and or stapled to the side that reads Gopher Baits, 1720 South 13th Street, Sheboygan, Wisconsin 53081
  • Note the larger version of this label is the flyer in the top right of the case of the experimental Lizards picture. The label is cut out from this flyer. This flyer has a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida address.

    Hinkle Lizard Three Box Age Examples

    Here's an interesting newspaper clipping from 1951. It's from the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal. It's a short article that asks people to name the three best fishermen they know. Interesting to see nonother than Joe Hinkle come up as number one on somebody's list.

    Hinkle Lizard Three Box Age Examples

    The Hinkle Lizard came in four advertised standard colors beginning with the Hinkle years (as noted in the 1954 ad). They were Green, Yellow, Red and Black. It is interesting to note that Green and Yellow were the primary standard colors through the years. The vast majority of boxes were stamped for these two colors. I am not sure the reason for this but have a couple of theories. Most likely they were far and away their best selling colors. It could also have been a more stable color on early plastic lures and the other colors were still more experimental. Given the popularity of lures such as Jitterbugs and others during that time in common colors such as Perch I would guess the former not the latter is probably more closer to the truth. It appears that later on they experimented with other lure colors as well and I have seen different shades of Red and maybe an early Red was not as stable (just conjecture on my part).

    Below are some photos of the Lizards:

    Yellow Hinkle Lizard (available for sale)

    Green Hinkle Lizard (available for sale)

    Red Hinkle Lizard (available for sale)

    If anybody has additional information or paperwork such as early advertisements they would share it would be greatly appreciated.

    Unknown Lure

    I've mentioned this lure before in my Lure Mysteries blog series but I keep it hanging in front of me and it keeps bothering me that it is still unknown. It's a real nice bait. About 5 1/4" long. Marked "Hotcubbie" on one side and signed on the other. You can see more detailed pics of it in this article. Let me know if you can help identify who made this lure or any information about it.

    If you have any further information on any of the items displayed on this page which you'd like to share, please send your comments to me and I'll update the page accordingly. Contributions of interesting items and/or unknowns are encouraged.

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    Web Author: Keith Bell
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