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Among the most highly regarded of the Redditch makers were the Wyers Frères who produced fishing tackle in Warwickshire for sale in Paris.

Some idea of their vast output in the late 19th century was provided by a unique selection of 18 display panels offered for sale at Christie’s South Kensington on May 19. They were put up as part of the collection of Anissa Helou, an interior decorator with a great interest in things piscatorial who had acquired them in the 1980s on the closure of the Wyers’ Parisian residence.

All were competed well above expectation, but the highest selling entry was this framed display of a number of baits and lures of various styles, designs and makers
centred with a stuffed trout, above, measuring 193/4 high by 2ft 111/4 wide (50 x 84.5cm). Made up of a number of rare baits, the display lured a US collector to the rooms, but
was bought by a Kent collector at £26,000 (plus 15 per cent premium).

Perhaps only two years ago fishing baits would have been regarded as the poor cousin to reels and other fishing accessories; however, Chris Sandford’s 1997 book The Best of British Baits increased attention and the realisation of their equal display potential has subsequently encouraged prices to rise.

For example, back in January Bonhams established a new auction high for a rare brass flexible jointed Cleopatra bait c.1890 measuring 33/4in (9.5cm) with the maker’s stamp of Gregory to one fin. It made £2200.