Fred C. Keeling was born in the 1870's in Rockford, Illinois. He started making the "Expert" minnow in 1914, a business he took over from the J. L Clark. The company was located at 118 Water Street, Rockford, Illinois. He continued to make lures until 1938.
He had homes in both the Land-O-Lakes & St John's River area. In fact he named one of his early lures the St. John Wiggler.
The Depression of the twenties and some hard times that followed, he offered his company to the Heddon Co, in 1937 without success. He died a year later. James, Fred's brother, sold the company to H&I in 1938.
Fred Keeling was very creative and had to compete with the larger, and better known lure makers. He used the same body for several different lures, as you will see by looking at the examples I have shown.
Many of his lures can be easily identified by the patented keel. The keel was first used around 1919 and was marked "Pat. App'd for" and after 1920 the keel was marked "Pat. Jul 6 1920".
The paint quality of Keeling lures in the early years varied widely. In the later years the paint quality was fair, at best. This was mainly because he did not primer the lure before putting on the finish coat. It is difficult to find older Keeling lures with good paint, and if you do, consider yourself fortunate.
During the early years, from 1914 to 1919 he produced the following known lures.
1920 to 1924 (Known as the Tom Thumb era) he produced the following known lures.
Production Years 1925 to 1927
Production Years 1928 thru Early 1930's
Misc information about Keeling
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