Eger Bait Company History
This Florida lure maker started his operation in his garage in Bartow, Florida sometime in the early 1930’s as a hobby and this turned into the Eger Bait Manufacturing Company or Eger Bait Company. In my opinion, the first three baits he made were the most wonderful baits Eger produced. They were the Eger’s Frogs, Eger’s Fish Hawgs and the Florida Special.
Eger Feathered Frog
Eger Florida Special
Eger Bass Hawg
Eger Grass Frog
Eger Frog Skin Baits
Eger Bait Co. Color Chart
(Click on each color code or description for an example image)
We now own a couple of these baits at this time and they are wonderful additions to any collection. The Florida Special through a series of evolutions will become the Famous Dillinger lure. Below are a few pictures of the Dillinger Baits we have in our collection.
Glass Eye Dillinger #301
Eger Florida Special
Eger Baby Dillinger
The Dillinger name came about the time when the Famous John Dillinger was at his peak. William Eger’s patent for diagonal color bands on the baits sides and the elliptical dot pattern around the eyes was Patent No.106,592 are on the belly of a number of his baits.
Checkout our Copies of Eger Patents
(Click on each title for an example image)
The Lemon colored boxes were the first boxes and have a boat printed on the top with a lure with stripes on the sides, the Eger’s Torpedo Minnow #200 is another bait in this time frame and was packaged in a two piece cardboard box, Lime Green and reads Eger Submarine Minnows. In 1935, Eger started making a wood bait covered with a real frog skin. On September 7, 1937 he was granted patent number 2,092,304 for this process. He also had a contract with Shakespeare Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan covering baits for them as well. These baits had their own box, which at first was a lemon colored two piece cardboard box (pictured below left). In 1950, Bill Eger started a contest for the most unusual catches using a registered frog skin bait (pictured below center and right).
Natures Lures Eger Box
Frogskin Contest Front
Frogskin Contest Back
In the early 1940’s a shed was added on the side of the garage for a production facility and used for about 10 years. At the start of the addition things were picking up and a change in the box were made, a two piece cardboard box with the new Eger logo printed on the box.
Eger Baby Teaser
Eger Fuss Budget
In 1940 a window box was used for a time before the highly sought after VICTORY BOX. This box was related WWII. The last box used in Bartow was the all cellophane top cardboard bottom box and was marked Eger Bait Manufacturing Co.
Eger Victory Box #203
Eger Early Window Box
Last Box Style From Bartow
A Texas Sized Shrimp
Maybe it’s true that everything in Texas is bigger after all. In an Eger catalog dated from 1941, there is a picture of a shrimp that Eger was marketing. Come to find out, it was a perfect match for the Nichols shrimp produced in 1940. Nichols had agreed to produce the shrimp and in turn allowed Eger to sell them packaged for resale in Eger boxes. The earliest Eger shrimp were boxed in silver cellophane window boxes. There have only been a handful of these boxes show up making them pretty rare. Recently, an Eger Victory box stamped for an Eger Shrimp hit the market. Here are a couple pictures of the only Eger Victory box to surface stamped this way complete with a Nichols shrimp that would have been the companion for this box.
NOTE: The Eger/Fenco Shrimp documents below were provided to us by Texas collector Emil Polansky.
Eger / Fenco Shrimp Pact
1941 Eger Catalog Shrimp
Eger Shrimp Ad
On September 2, 1944 The shed used to make the baits caught on fire and all production was stopped. A new two story building was built on US HWY. 17 in Bartow and that is where production continued until 1946.
Sergeant Sea Diver
Jointed CCBC Lipped Lure
Jointed Paw Paw Lip
On April 29, 1946 the transfer of ownership of Eger Patents went to Mr. Jack Hall and he purchased the Eger Bait Company. Mr. Hall owned the company for only a short time and sold the company to Kenneth Curtis, a former employee of Eger. Kenneth Curtis Jr. worked for the company as Vice President, and during this time things were looking better. Fly lures were added to the production at Eger along with the Frog Skin baits and the famous Dillinger lures. It was during this period that the word Dillinger and color code number was stamped on the back of the Dillinger’s in gold lettering. From 1950 to 1952, new items were also offered. Some of them are pictured below.
Sudden Death & Paint Mask
Matt Youngs Eger Mammoths
Eger made this wonderful bait in 1937.
These baits were NO. 3000-1 Musky and Tarpon Baits
Pikie Type Jointed and straight body.
Available in 8 Wonderful Colors.
William Eger remained chairman of the board until his death on June 10. 1950. In 1953, the company was again in trouble and was closed for a brief period and reopened for a short time. In May of 1962, the Eger Bait Manufacturing Co.’s name was changed to York-Eger Manufacturing Co.
Much of the information on this page was obtained by utilizing the information provided by Doug Brace, Bill Stuart, and Russell Riddle in “Florida Lure Makers and Their Lures” (Currently out of print). The information we have provided is only a portion of the story. If interested in purchasing this book, please reach out to other collectors in our forum to inquire about availability.