Brent Vonderheide grew up in Stewardson and became an avid fisherman after his grandfather took him to nearby Wolf Creek.
Years later, Vonderheide began collecting antique glass minnow traps and became adept at documenting his knowledge of them in print.
Vonderheide’s first published book was “The Collector’s Guide to Glass Minnow Traps”, which led to his second publication, “The Encyclopedia of Glass Minnow Traps”.
As a collector of antique fishing tackle, Vonderheide travels to antique fishing tackle fairs that attract people from several states.
“Ultimately, I became the glass minnow trap guru,” Vonderheide said. “If you’re really a serious collector, you have 25 to 35 traps.”
“They are hard to find,” added Vonderheide.
Vonderheide wrote his first book because he was the only one with extensive knowledge and research material to evaluate glass minnow traps.
“I have papers from the 1860s,” Vonderheide said. “We know they were made before, but we don’t have anything in writing.”
Vonderheide also wanted to educate collectors who profited from the reproductions.
“I wanted to photograph the reproductions and distribute them.”
“People were paying $500 for a reproduction thinking it was good old because it had a good history with it,” Vonderheide added. “Some reproductions are very good. You have to do homework.
Vonderheide said that to make a reproduction look old, a duplicator would soak the trap in acid and make the metal look rusty.
“They will do anything to deceive you,” Vonderheide said.
After Vonderheide’s first book, a California collector contacted Vonderheide about his collection of 275 glass minnow traps. Vonderheide helps the collector to liquidate his collection.
“We thought the first collection started around 1980,” Vonderheide said. “This gentleman started in the mid-1960s.”
Vonderheide said the man in California really didn’t realize other people were collecting traps until he read his book.
“I didn’t think about writing a second one until I got to a certain point,” Vonderheide said. “The publisher wanted me to do another book about them (glass minnow traps) and some of the public as well with the feedback I was getting from other collectors.”
“The first book was strictly glass minnow traps,” Vonderheide said. “And in the second book, I put metal, plastic, unknown, homemade traps and other glass traps that I didn’t have in the first book.”
Since publishing his second book, Vonderheide says he has found three traps that he thinks are unique.
“They’re all from different makers from the 1800s,” Vonderheide said. “As far as I know, each one is one of a kind.”
“We like to find something that we don’t know anything about,” Vonderheide added.
Vonderheide is currently working on her next book featuring antique fishing boxes.
As well as being an author, Vonderheide is a co-organizer and member of the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club which puts on an Effingham Antique Fishing Show once a year at the Effingham Event Center. Next year will be the 18th annual show in Effingham.
“We have dealers from at least 13 different states,” Vonderheide said. “It’s the third Saturday in April every year.”
“It’s a really nice venue,” added Vonderheide. “We are very lucky to have this setup at Effingham.”
Vonderheide has several old glass minnow traps on display at its business in downtown Altamont. He owns and operates Wolf Creek Antique Mall following in the footsteps of his parents, Wayne and Mary Vonderheide, who were once antique dealers in Stewardson, operating a business named Heidi’s Antiques.
Vonderheide didn’t even think he liked antiques when he was growing up in Stewardson.
“When I grew up I realized the value of an antique,” Vonderheide said. “I think that’s the historical part that I enjoy the most.”