30 Antique Fishing Lures and Why They’re Collectible (2022)

Table of Contents
The Best-Looking Wooden Fishing Lures 1. Best Imitation of a Catfish 2. Most Artistic Antique Fishing Lure 3. The Antique Fishing Lure Most Likely to be Seen in an Art Gallery 4. Most Beautiful Unpainted Wooden Fishing Lure 5. Best Use of Child Labor The Most Complicated Antique Fishing Lures 6. Most Likely to Annoy Greenpeace 7. Best Mechanical Antique Fishing Lure 8. Most Likely to Hurt You Before You Catch a Fish 9. Most Laborious Antique Fishing Lure to Construct 10. Best Imitation of an Entire Food Chain The Most Popular Antique Fishing Lures 11. Most Likely to be Found in Every Tackle Box from the ’30s to the ’60s 12. Happiest Looking Antique Fishing Lure 13. Most Likely to Stand the Test of Time 14. Most Memorable Misprint 15. Best Proof That Size Doesn’t Matter The Strangest Antique Fishing Lures 16. Best Adaptive Reuse of Skunk Parts 17. Weirdest Use of Raw Materials 18. Most Likely to Leave a Bigger Wake than the Fish it Catches 19. Most Likely to Require a Pollution Discharge Permit 20. Most Likely to be Mistaken for Your Pet’s Chew Toy Antique Fishing Lures with the Best Advertising 21. Most Outlandish Marketing Claim for an Antique Fishing Lure 22. Best Marketed Antique Fishing Lure 23. Best Use of Cartoon Characters 24. Most Attractive Antique Fishing Lure (Because the Box Says So) 25. Most Beautiful Product Flyer on an Antique Fishing Lure 26. Best Use of Graphics on a Box Top Most Innovative Antique Fishing Lures 27. Most Creative De-Snagging Invention 28. Most Likely to Revolutionize Bass Fishing 29. Most Effective Revolving Bait 30. Most Patriotic Paint Job FAQs Videos

When it comes to antique fishing lures and other tackle, I’m more of an accumulator than a collector. If I see something cool for short money at a tag sale, then I’ll latch on to it. I don’t collect systematically, nor do I spend big bucks on antique fishing tackle as some do.

This old, wooden Huskie Pikie plug by Creek Chub is a good example of a nice tag-sale get from a few years back, complete with the original box.

Rob Pavey, a noted classic-lure collector from Georgia, very graciously collected a series of old fishing lure photos below, that are great fun to look at along with being very informative.

Meanwhile, I’m sure we’ll get the inevitable question that always goes something like this: “I found an old wooden Do-Hickey lure in Grandpa’s tacklebox that I’m sure must be worth at least $123,458.31 to some collector. How do I sell it and get all that money?”

The answer, of course, usually goes like this: “Don’t bet the farm on it, kid. Maybe 5 bucks for it if you’re really lucky. Those things are a dime a dozen, and yours is all scratched up with rusty hooks.”

But then again, you never know…

The Best-Looking Wooden Fishing Lures

1. Best Imitation of a Catfish

30 Antique Fishing Lures and Why They’re Collectible (1)

The Bullhead, made by Paw Paw Bait Co. of Paw Paw, Michigan, dates to the 1930s. The bait was short-lived—probably due to the difficulty in shaping its elaborate body. The Bullhead baits even had carved lips and hand-painted whiskers.

2. Most Artistic Antique Fishing Lure

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The wooden “Wotta Frog” was made by Paw Paw Bait Co. of Paw Paw, Mich., from the late 1930s all the way into the early 1960s. Its “wotta frog splatter” paint finish is one of the most unique in the world of antique fishing tackle. The lure’s articulated legs and lifelike bulging eyes make this one of the more collectible fishing lures on the list.

(Video) 30 Antique Fishing Lures and Why They're Collectible

3. The Antique Fishing Lure Most Likely to be Seen in an Art Gallery

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Get out your best bottle of cabernet, dim the lights and push that Mozart CD. Now you’re ready to check out the workmanship of the Klipon lure, made in the 1930s by Green-Wyle Co., of Brooklyn, N.Y. The wooden fishing lures have glass eyes and came in a variety of unusual and unique shapes. This one gets my vote for the most beautiful rendition of a natural perch finish.

4. Most Beautiful Unpainted Wooden Fishing Lure

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The Clyde Hoage Spoon-Fin Minnow is a 1930s Minnesota lure with a finely machined set of animated metal fins. The Hoage Spoon-Fin was usually finished in natural wood. They are rare and highly collectible fishing lures. Spoon-Fin boxes are difficult to find, too. The Hoage Spoon Fin’s makers called it “The Perfect Minnow.”

5. Best Use of Child Labor

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Anton Lauby patented his wooden “Wonder Spoon” lures around 1935. His company, based in Marshfield, Wisc., was sold in 1938. Lauby’s young daughter, Tillie, helped paint the unusual lures, and sometimes painted her fingernails in similar patterns. Lauby also obtained patents for several of the tools he engineered for building his baits.

Read Next: The 20 Best Ice Fishing Lures Ever

The Most Complicated Antique Fishing Lures

6. Most Likely to Annoy Greenpeace

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The Neon Fire Fly, made in the 1930s by St. Croix Bait Co., Stillwater, Minnesota, had a clear nose filled with 1.5 ounces of liquid mercury to make the lure “glow.” Not many of these vintage fishing lures survived, and we hope, for the environment’s sake, that not too many were made!

7. Best Mechanical Antique Fishing Lure

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The prop-driven Live-Action Frog, made by Action Frog Corp. of Long Beach, Calif., in the late 1940s, is a favorite among collectors of mechanical lures. This frog features a four-bladed stainless steel prop protected by a device at the mouth that looks like a dental retainer from our childhood. As the lure is retrieved, the prop turns a driveshaft that makes the legs kick open and shut. Its tall, handsome picture box is an added plus.

8. Most Likely to Hurt You Before You Catch a Fish

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The E-Z Way Bass Bait, made around 1915 by Harlow & Steinbaugh of Newark, Ohio, is unquestionably one of the most dangerous lures ever manufactured. The hooks, when set, make the lure weedless, but when the trigger mechanism releases the barbs, it springs open several inches. The flyer inside its purple-maroon box starts out with some important advice: “Look Out!”

The makers included William F. Harlow, a well-known outdoorsman and pattern maker for the Worley Stove Manufacturing Co. Harlow also manufactured and sold duck decoys and duck calls. Little is known about his partner, Johnny Steinbaugh, although his descendants operated a family sporting goods store for many years in downtown Newark.

(Video) Vintage Fishing Tackle Worth Big Money

9. Most Laborious Antique Fishing Lure to Construct

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There are many baits that could fall into this category, but the Beetle lures made by Creek Chub Bait Co. of Garrett, Indiana, get my vote. The wooden fishing lure bodies had to be whittled and turned, and then the belly flattened. Eyes were set by hand and multiple layers of primer, paint and varnish were followed by the hand-applied black outlines separating the “wings” from other sections. The diving lip fits neatly into the notched mouth and the tail section includes two pearl spinner blades. This vintage fishing lure was made in at least seven colors and two sizes.

10. Best Imitation of an Entire Food Chain

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The Thoren Minnow Chaser was an elaborate bait made by A.H. Thoren of Chicago around 1940. It was designed to mimic a fish chasing a fish, and features some of the most elaborate mechanical hardware ever used in a lure. It must have made quite a sight moving through the water! The lures are wooden and very well made. The metal parts are machined steel.

The Most Popular Antique Fishing Lures

11. Most Likely to be Found in Every Tackle Box from the ’30s to the ’60s

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Creek Chub Bait Company’s Pikie Minnow originated around 1919 and evolved to include numerous sizes, from a tiny flyrod version to a huge musky and tarpon bait. Although the colors varied, the basic body shape remained much the same. These lures later were known at the “Famous Pikie Minnow” because they were, indeed, famous—and they still are.

12. Happiest Looking Antique Fishing Lure

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The “Punkinseed” was one of many famous baits from the Heddon company in Dowagiac, Michigan. The tall, shaped “seeds” made their debut in the late 1930s with the larger wooden 740 series, soon accompanied by a smaller 730 series. It evolved over the years to include a tiny flyrod size (the Punkie Spook) as well as a host of bass-sized plastic versions. Their smiling mouths, cute shapes, and lifelike renditions of bluegill, crappie, rock bass, shad, and other species makes them a perennial favorite.

13. Most Likely to Stand the Test of Time

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The famous Bass Oreno lures made by Indiana’s South Bend Bait Co. emerged around 1916 and are still on the market today. There are collections of Bass Oreno baits with more than 400 sizes, colors, and eye detail styles—without a single duplicate. This antique fishing lure also gets my vote for one of the best all-time fish catchers.

14. Most Memorable Misprint

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For many decades, the Creek Chub Wigglefish was marketed as the bait that was used by George W. Perry to land the 22-pound, 4-ounce world record largemouth bass caught in Georgia in 1932. As it turns out, the famous fish was actually landed on a different Creek Chub lure—the Fintail Shiner. The revelation was made in an audio recording of George Perry himself—interviewed on Oct. 12, 1973, by an outdoor writer named Terry Drace, working at that time for Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. The long-lost audiotape surfaced just three years ago—and set the record straight.

15. Best Proof That Size Doesn’t Matter

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L.J. Tooley of Chicago was a world champion baitcaster who marketed lures in the early teens. His wooden Bunty lures sometimes had a hanging belly weight. The box says this relatively small lure is “not a warship” like bigger plugs of the era—an obvious snub at the huge wooden fishing lures of the time that often had five treble hooks.

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(Video) Vintage Fishing Lures- Collectibles!!

The Strangest Antique Fishing Lures

16. Best Adaptive Reuse of Skunk Parts

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“Cotton’s Topwater” was made by Cotton Layfield of Kerens, Texas, and was a unique paddle-wheel bait designed to skim atop weeds in shallow lakes. Cotton Layfield made the baits with his brother, Jess. The hackle on this topwater lure was made from skunk hair—which the makers deemed the best for flotation and durability. This particular antique fishing lure, by the way, was a gift from the Layfields to the late Bob Brister, a veteran journalist for Outdoor Life magazine.

17. Weirdest Use of Raw Materials

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The Fish Nipple, made around 1911 by Moonlight Bait Co., Paw Paw, Michigan, was just what its name made it out to be: a rubber nipple filled with lead, feathers and horse hair. It is perhaps one of the least elaborate vintage fishing lures from a company that made what are now some of the most collectible fishing lures ever.

18. Most Likely to Leave a Bigger Wake than the Fish it Catches

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Armed with a pair of propellers that have eight blades apiece, the Miller’s Original Wood Minnow (aka Miller’s Reversible) left a wake like a battleship. This antique fishing lure—dating to around 1914—was made by Union Springs Specialty Co. of Cayuga Lake, N.Y.

19. Most Likely to Require a Pollution Discharge Permit

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The Bubble Minnie, made in the 1940s by Fair Play Industries of Detroit, features a blued aluminum frame with wooden “barrels” that fit inside the cavity. The barrels were filled with an unknown cocktail of foaming, fizzing chemicals and emitted a noisy trail of bubbles. This unused Bubble Minnie was owned by noted Florida outdoor writer Ed McLaurin, who accumulated many unusual lures sent to him by manufacturers seeking publicity.

20. Most Likely to be Mistaken for Your Pet’s Chew Toy

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The Kurz Buck Skin bait is a hand-painted lure made from genuine rawhide, according to the literature accompanying this circa 1936 lure from Kurz Brothers Company of Chicago, which was located—perhaps not coincidentally—in the city’s famous stockyards district. The attractive lure features hand-painted gills, a riveted eye and an oblong external belly weight. After catching a few fish, however, it would very likely resemble a dog’s chew toy.

Antique Fishing Lures with the Best Advertising

21. Most Outlandish Marketing Claim for an Antique Fishing Lure

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The Long Island Flasher, made in the 1930s by Long Island Manufacturing Co., New York, claimed its proprietary, patented finish was made from actual fish scales that helped give the lure its lustrous shine. The diving lip is stamped with the company name.

22. Best Marketed Antique Fishing Lure

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The Spoonplug was made by Buck’s Baits, founded around 1945 by Elwood “Buck” Perry of Hickory, N.C. He was a marketing genius who traveled the country offering Spoonplugging seminars and selling his books on how to use the Spoonplug. The metal, painted lures came in an unending number of sizes and colors and are usually found in a plastic window box. This two-piece box is early and rare—making this a very collectible fishing lure. Perry died in 2005 at the age of 90 and his baits remain at work catching bass to this day.

23. Best Use of Cartoon Characters

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With a box that looks inspired by a Disney show, the very happy “Froglegs Mechanical Fishing Lure” was made in the 1950s by Modern Sporting Goods Co., Austin, Texas. It is among many mechanical frogs—and one that actually caught fish.

(Video) Vintage Fishing Lures

24. Most Attractive Antique Fishing Lure (Because the Box Says So)

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The Charmer Minnow, dating to the 1911 era, was made in Springfield, Mo., and is among the best of the classic “barberpole” baits of the era. Its box proclaims that is “the most attractive fish lure any angler ever cast.”

25. Most Beautiful Product Flyer on an Antique Fishing Lure

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Patented in 1909 and sold for the first year or two in a wonderful black pasteboard box, the Howe’s Vacuum Bass Bait made in Manchester, Indiana, is an early classic. The lure featured “swiveling hooks” and all were made of wood. The color papers have wonderful graphics unrivaled by product pamphlets of any other company.

26. Best Use of Graphics on a Box Top

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Harry L. Medley of Los Angeles patented the Medley’s Wiggly Crab in 1919. This is the rare first box, which contains a lure stamped “Patd.,” (later lures carry the 1919 date). Note the wonderful graphics in this exquisite picture box, with the word “Wiggly” being really wiggly to the eyes. Although the Medley lures are gorgeous, their boxes no doubt made them a hit with anglers.

Most Innovative Antique Fishing Lures

27. Most Creative De-Snagging Invention

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The South claims few true classic lures, but the spring-loaded Vann-Clay Retrievable Minnow made by Thelma H. Clay of Thomasville, Ga., in the late 1920s can hold its own against any early maker. These hollow lures have an internal spring that enables the head to pull away from the body when snagged, then snap back, hopefully unsnagging the lure.

28. Most Likely to Revolutionize Bass Fishing

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William Shakespeare of Kalamazoo, Michigan, offered his “Revolution” baits around 1900. They were made of aluminum and floated on the surface in an era in which most lures were underwater baits.

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29. Most Effective Revolving Bait

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Bite-Em Bate lures are among the most colorful and sophisticated antique fishing lures. Manufactured only briefly, from around 1917 into the early or mid-1920s, the Bite-Em Baits (or “Bates” as some boxes proclaimed) included this wooden fishing lure that rotated on an axis with its unique hook armature.

30. Most Patriotic Paint Job

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The mechanical, spring-loaded Shooting Lure was made in the mid 1940s by machinist Thomas G. Prentice. This is the patent model with a metal shaft with slots into which a pin was inserted to hold it in the cocked position. When a fish struck, the pin was dislodged, and the lure “fired,” shooting the hook into the fish’s mouth. The Shooting Lure was painted a patriotic red, white and blue!

(Video) How Much Are My Old Fishing Lures Worth?

FAQs

Are old fishing lures worth money? ›

The most valuable lures are usually made of wood and have glass eyes. Some very rare examples can be worth more than $20,000. Most won't be nearly that valuable, however, and price out between $25 and several hundred apiece.

What is the rarest lure? ›

Giant Copper Haskell Minnow:

It's the most expensive fishing lure in the world to ever be sold. Reportedly there is only one of these known to exist in this size. Haskell minnows in general are extremely rare and historic.

Are lures worth anything? ›

The Italian Lira was replaced by the Euro in 2002 and Italian Lira coins and banknotes no longer have any monetary value.

What was the first fishing lure? ›

James Heddon (1845- 1911)— Credited with the invention of first wooden-body artificial lures in the 1890s, James Heddon, and his company James Heddon and Sons, produced the first commercially-successful lure called the 'Dowagiac.

What are old fishing rods worth? ›

Many used fishing rods are worth less than $50; many more, less than $20. If you think you might have a valuable fishing rod, it's important to know what to look for to determine its worth. Vintage fishing rod advertisements.

How do you show vintage lures? ›

Creating a shadow box display for vintage fishing lures - YouTube

How do you clean antique fishing lures? ›

Fishing Tackle : How to Clean Old Fishing Lures - YouTube

Who has the most fishing lures in the world? ›

The largest collection of fishing lures contains 3,563 items and is owned by Will "Spike" Yocum (USA) as verified in Carterville, Illinois, USA, on 20 March 2016. Will "Spike" Yocum has always wanted a record for the largest collection of fishing lures, and is very excited to achieve this Guinness World Records title.

What do you do with old fishing hooks? ›

How do you dispose of old fish hooks or fishing tackle?
  1. Snip the barbs off of old hooks. ...
  2. Cut or break old hooks into small pieces with pliers. ...
  3. Poke old hooks into thick cardboard and recycle. ...
  4. Collect old hooks in a Gatorade bottle with wide mouth and recycle. ...
  5. Keep old hooks in an old tackle box then recycle.

How old are fishing lures? ›

Lures made forty to sixty years ago are old, but very few have significant value. They can well be used to catch fish today if you're so inclined. There are some exceptions, however.

What fish are attracted to lures? ›

Freshwater fishing lures come in a number of types, sizes, shapes, and colors. Although most freshwater lures are produced for the bass fishing market, artificial lures can be used to catch other species of fish, such as crappie, perch, walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge.

Who is the owner of Rapala? ›

Rapala
TypePublic
FounderLauri Rapala
HeadquartersHelsinki , Finland
Area servedWorldwide
Key peopleNicolas Cederström Warchalowski (CEO) Louis Audemard D'Alançon (chairman)
8 more rows

What are old bamboo fly rods worth? ›

Yes, antique bamboo rods are unique and sought-after collection pieces. But you won't become a millionaire if you have or find one! The most expensive bamboo rod sold in an auction was about 20'000$ worth. But more generally if you get 3000$ this is a very good price.

Can you sell fishing lures? ›

Fishing lures vary widely according to many factors including the type of fish, the type of water and the rod you're going to use. Making your own fishing lures is a challenging task, but if you discover a skill for the hobby, you can turn it into a money-making opportunity by selling them.

Are bamboo rods worth it? ›

Bamboo fly rods are ideal for the most subtle and delicate of presentations, and for anglers who enjoy the rod's slow and very flexible action. Much like fiberglass fly rods, bamboo fly rods deliver a unique feel and experience when battling a fish. The give of the fly rod helps to protect light tippets from breaking.

Does vinegar clean fishing lures? ›

Soak your hooks and lures in vinegar for a few hours (Overnight is best). Pull out the hooks and lures from the vinegar and wipe the rust off using a paper towel or rag. If there is still rust, then make a paste by adding a small amount of water to some baking soda.

Can you use vinegar to clean fishing lures? ›

Use vinegar to remove rust from your hooks.

After you remove it, use steel wool to scrub away any remaining rust. Then wipe it down with a rag soaked in denatured alcohol to prevent rust from forming again. The solution should include one cup of salt for every gallon of vinegar.

How do you keep lures from rusting? ›

HOW TO - Stop fishing hooks from rusting - YouTube

What is the biggest fishing lure ever made? ›

The largest fishing lure measures 12.32 m (40 ft 5 in) in length, 2.46 m (8 ft 1 in) in hook width, and 2.92 m (9 ft 7 in) in spoon width and was created by Jessica Dew (Canada), in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada on 29 May 2019.

What is the highest lure? ›

The maximum level for the Lure enchantment is Level 3. This means that you can enchant a fishing rod with up to Lure III.

What Is Bucktail lure? ›

Bucktail jigs are time-tested lures that remain one of the most effective fish catchers you can snap or tie onto your line. They can be fished in a number of ways in varying locations from shore and boat, and they will catch just about anything that swims in the ocean.

Will fish bite a rusty hook? ›

If you're fishing any kind of lure that is moving fast, chances are fish will have no time to notice the hook is rusty. They'll simply bite the rusty hook just like any other.

Can you clean rusty fish hooks? ›

If your hooks or lures have already started to rust on the surface, you can get rid of some surface rust by spraying the affected hook with a little of the same product, and scrubbing the rust of with an abrasive sponge. You can also remove some rust from your rod by applying a little WD-40 to the reels.

How long does it take for a hook to rust? ›

Yes, fish hooks do dissolve. This can take months, a few years, or up to 50, depending on what they're made of. There are many factors that will dictate the length of time a fishing hook takes to degrade.

What do you do with old fishing tackles? ›

Instead of letting it collect dust, donate the old stuff to a local charity or a recycled sporting goods organization. The next time you cast on a peaceful lake, you'll feel great knowing you have given a fellow fisher the chance to do the same. Gather up all of the gear you intend to donate.

Is there an app that identifies fishing lures? ›

TackleFind, LureFind and ReelFind - Mobile applications providing quick searchable identification and values for antique and collectible fishing lures and reels.

How do you clean vintage lures? ›

Fishing Tackle : How to Clean Old Fishing Lures - YouTube

Do Bass remember lures? ›

“The results show that under some circumstances, bass can remember lures for at least up to three months and perhaps much, much longer,” Jones concluded.

Videos

1. Found Some Vintage Fishing Lures | Antiques or Trash?
(Gubba Homestead)
2. Collecting Antiques : Antique Fishing Lures
(eHow)
3. Top 20 Antique & Vintage Fishing Lures Worth Big Money on Ebay
(Vintage Vagabond Vends)
4. Virtual Tour Of A $400,000 Antique Fishing Lure museum
(Chaos Divers)
5. Antique Fishing Lures and Old Vintage Tackle
(Realistic Fishing)
6. ANTIQUE FISHING LURES & MORE
(Superior Auction & Appraisal)

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