Jim Bourdon provides a fairly detailed account about A.T. Death and the fate of the Sure - Catch Bait Works via Carl F. Luckey in the 5th edition of Luckey's seminal catalog of fishing baits.(1) Here's a short account of A.T. Death's work producing fishing lures.
A.T. Death made lures in Union City, Indiana, which is on the Indiana - Ohio border, during the late 1920's. Reputedly, his company was known as Sure Catch Baits, but a lure box brokered in an on-line auction has "Sure - Catch Bait Works" printed on the box lid. Mr. Death went to Versailles, Ohio in 1928 to seek capital investment to open a new factory. He was seemingly successful. A consequence of his dealings with Versailles financiers was the movement of his business and manufacturing equipment from Union City to the corner of Water and Center streets in Versailles at the end of 1928.
Mr. Death's tenure in Versailles was short lived; within a year, he was replaced as General Manager. The company's name was changed to Strike-Master Tackle Company about the same time. Mr. Death returned to Union City in 1931. Interestingly enough, the Strike-Master Tackle Company reportedly shut down in the early 1930's.
This partial history, and the lack of further documentation, presents several mysteries. What lures did the Sure - Catch Bait Works make before the move to Ohio? (These would be genuine Hoosier Baits ;^) Did Mr. Death make lures after he returned to Union City? Given the known and unknown, which lures are which? How does a person distinguish between lures made by A.T. Death prior to his jaunt to Ohio, and those made during his stay there? If he did make lures after leaving Strike Master, what do they look like?
The complexity of these questions is best illustrated by trying to accurately and positively identify the Night Hawk lure.
1. - Identification and Value Guide: Old Fishing Lures and Tackle, 5th Edition.
- Carl F. Luckey. 1999. Iola WI : Krause Publications. Pages 608-609.