The other reason the quality decreased is that PLASTICS came into use after 1940, the big companies started making cheaper lures and boxes to compete in the rapidly expanding fishing tackle market. As with so many other things we see today, "Made in America" just didn't stand for the level of quality that was produced prior to World War ll.
The golden era of tackle is that time frame when Heddon, Shakespeare, Pflueger and the smaller companies (miscellaneous) were competing to produce "QUALITY" lures which were hand painted and produced with glass eyes and wood bodies. Yes, your father had some antique lures, but unless they were handed down from his father, more than likely they are post 1940. If you want to collect post 1940 lures, that is great, but it isn't not the same as the earlier lures which are relatively rare and getting more and more scarce. If you have a plastic lure or even a wood Creek Chub made in the 40's or 50's, yes it's old, but it not an "Antique".
High-grade early fishing lures are as much a part of our American history as is the Winchester Rifle was to the history of the West. Fishing lures were important to the men and women who fished for pleasure or produced the fishing tackle during the early part of this century. For some of us, the history is an important as the art.
Of the millions of lures produced, only a few survived in excellent condition into this, the end of the twentieth century.
Because of the beauty and rarity of these early pieces, the prices and demand have gradually increased to the point where there is great interest among the large number of collectors who frequent the antique and flea markets today. The collector base and knowledge are growing daily.
h2o<---says good stuff.