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Karl White looking for a place in history for his $5 million fishing collection

He wants the collection in a museum, but for the last three years it's been stored out of public view
by Ed Godfrey Published: April 27, 2013
/articleid/3804164/1/pictures/2038276">Photo - Karl White with a 1952 Skeeter bass fishing boat, part of his $5 million fishing collection.  Photo By David McDaniel, The Oklahoman
Karl White with a 1952 Skeeter bass fishing boat, part of his $5 million fishing collection. Photo By David McDaniel, The Oklahoman

“I have never sold,” he said. “I look for niches that would fulfill something.”

A former bass tournament fisherman, White started buying lures when he was 8. He became a serious collector of antique tackle in 1961.

He was the founder and former owner of Crystal Laboratory in Luther, a pollen gathering and processing firm whose products are used by allergists, which earned him enough money to pursue his addiction for collecting.

In 1997, White paid the highest amount ever for piece of fishing collectible when he bought a Snyder reel — the first casting reel made in America in the late 1830s — for $31,350. The commission fee pushed the cost to $34,200.

Since 1997, only two other fishing collectibles have been sold for a higher amount.

White has authored a set of books on fishing collectibles and writes a column on antique collecting for Bassmaster Magazine.

“Anything to do with fishing, if you want to know the history, I can tell you,” he said.

He gets phone calls daily from people who want to know the value of an old fishing item.

White, 74, still is hopeful that his fishing collection will end up in a museum for the public to see.

But it must happen soon because of his age and declining eyesight, he said.

“I better (find something) in the next year or so or I am going to have to sell it,” White said.

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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“The common lures that caught fish are the ones they sold the most of and are not valuable. It's the ones that didn't catch fish that are the ones that are rare and valuable, because they didn't last more than a year.”

Karl White of Luther on collecting antique fishing lures


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