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.
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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