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Ben Smith Lures, Inc.
St. Augustine, Florida

Fish too, Like Better Things

In the 1940's and 1950's, a jointed shrimp of hard plastic was being made in St. Augustine, Florida. It was manufactured alternately by Ben Smith Lures, Inc. and the Norwich Corporation.

Ben Smith Red Shrimp

The shrimp was made in two different colors - Grass Shrimp & Red Shrimp. It was sold with a screw-eye in the nose of this lure for the purpose of fishing from a row boat or from shore. Should it be used for fishing from a bridge, remove the screw-eye from the nose and place on top of the head back of the eyes where you will find a hole for that purpose.

A paper insert in the box says that the lure has been thoroughly tested and approved for action by our research department. My guess is that the research "department" was Ben Smith himself.

The Ben Smith Shrimp was sold in two different boxes. The earliest was a two piece-cardboard box. It was later replaced by a plastic top cardboard box that was much like the one used for the Norwich Shrimp. The two-piece box has a nice graphic showing a redfish leaping to catch a Ben Smith Shrimp on one side and a trout leaping to catch a Ben Smith Swimming Minnow on the other. Between the two fish was the slogan Fish too, Like Better Things.

The lures shown here are part of our collection. Click on the thumbnail pictures to see a larger image

Ben Smith Shrimp
Ben Smith Shrimp Ben Smith Shrimp
Ben Smith Shrimp in 1st Style Box Ben Smith Shrimp in 2nd Style Box

Ben Smith made another lure, generally known as the Swimming Minnow. It was a hard plastic bait intended mostly for salt water fishing. Smith was not the only one who made a lure of this style, nor was he the first. There were other people in the St. Augustine area who acquired molds and made plastic swimming minnow lures. Among the others were Bert Hernandez and Palmer L. Douglas. Ben Smith did, however, submit a patent application for his swimming minnnow artificial bait in 1945, and a patent was granted in 1951.

Ben Smith Swimming Minnow
Ben Smith Swimming Minnow Some Ben Smith Swimming Minnows have text written inside the lure body. The early model on the left reads Ben Smith Lures on one side. The other side reads St. Augustine, Fla. Both sides read Pat. Pen.

The later lure on the right has the patent number written near the top.
Ben Smith Swimming Minnow

A School of Swimming Minnows Ben Smith Patent Drawing
Ben Smith Swimming Minnows Ben Smith Swimming Minnow Patent

We are always interested in adding to this collection. Please send an email if you have any old Ben Smith lures or boxes for sale or trade.
Visit my page about Antique Florida Lures to see other lure makers from Florida.

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