✅ SOLVED Age of lead salmon net weights?

USNFLYR

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I search an area that has many lead weights discarded. I believe these to be seine net weights. They appear to be molded by hand. I think the process was to use a mold and afterward cut off the tips, much like snipping off a cigar tip. Most have thin lines indicating deliberate contact (knife strikes?) and most have uneven surfaces, as well as added circular dab of lead.

A few years ago, a TN forum responder said these are indeed net weights. He lives further downstream from me (closer to Astoria). That was a good thing to confirm It’s usage, etc.

Now I am trying to place a date (era) the salmon operations occurred on this particular beach head. I know that early in the 20th century the net weights used a different metal/lead and were mass produced and machine made. I can’t find much on the internet concerning hand made net weights, and the year(s) that fishermen quit using them.

Can anyone elaborate? They are cool! I tell all my friends that these finds keep me in practice for yearly trips to CW camps and dropped bullets. The signals are identical:)
 

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gunsil

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The ones with slits look like "rubber core" sinkers that once had a rubber insert in them. I have never seen net weights with a slit in them, they would not stay long on a net. Sinkers today are still cast by hand, even in large operations. Rubber core sinkers do not go on nets, they are a simple means of attaching an inline sinker on the line. They are also not so old. Google "rubber core sinkers" and you will see lots of them.
 
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USNFLYR

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Gunsil, thanks for weighing in. I did Google rubber core sinkers. These are not core sinkers. If you look closely, you’ll see rope imprints. The ones in my collection that are "flared out", were probably pried open and discarded…maybe when repairing a net? Although I can’t find markings to support that. The lead is not pliable and it would take a tool to pry it off of a rope. Maybe the weights just fell off/ disintegrated over time? I’m sure those nets took a beating. Seine fishing required constant movement to trap the fish.
 

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gunsil

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That is what core lock sinkers look like when the rubber is removed, those marks are made that way, they were not made by rope. Have you ever fished with a net? Those leads are very small, were they net weights they would only work on a small minnow seine. They are even too small for a small cast net. The texture on the inside is so the core lock sinker doesn't slide up and down on your fishing line. I have used nets and my minnow seine with the tiny sinkers like those do not have slits and no nets use sinkers with slits. I bet if you go to a tackle shop near where you found those you will find they sell a lot of core lock sinkers, they are not net weights. They do appear to have damage from tumbling among stones in the river. Lead also gets hard with tumbling among stones, and many sinkers are made from scrap lead like old wheel weights which are alloys that are harder than pure lead.
 
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USNFLYR

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Thanks Gunsil for one possibility. I guess a visit is in order to a tackle shop is to check out the core sinkers. I have enough of these to conclude that they were produced very crudely. They could in fact be line weights. The evidence of rope imprints, non symetric design, occasional added blobs of lead and impact lines/damage shows that these are much older than modern weights. I still believe these attached, not to the netting, but to the line/rope that hemmed the lower portion of the net.


Below are examples of modern net vs old net. Images from EBay.
 

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crashbandicoot

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I,ve gotta go with Gunsil on this one.I,ve seen a lot of seines and never seen crimp on weights on a seine or any other net. If they,re as hard as you say,harder than pure lead,it would be difficult to imprint the rope turns on the weight.I almost think some of those look like lag bolt anchors,they,re often referred to as lead,but most are either zinc or babbit metal.That would explain the grooves inside. The ones that are not cylindrical could be ones that have been extracted from the holes they were in and separated.
 
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USNFLYR

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I,ve gotta go with Gunsil on this one.I,ve seen a lot of seines and never seen crimp on weights on a seine or any other net. If they,re as hard as you say,harder than pure lead,it would be difficult to imprint the rope turns on the weight.I almost think some of those look like lag bolt anchors,they,re often referred to as lead,but most are either zinc or babbit metal.That would explain the grooves inside. The ones that are not cylindrical could be ones that have been extracted from the holes they were in and separated.
Hey thanks. Respectfully these are lead. Identical readings on my metal detector as my Civil War bullets. Also why are they mangled and non standard in length? Why would someone using rubber core sinkers pry them off and flatten them (before tossing them)? Most of the lead objects, let’s call them fishing items, we’re found during months of low water, clustered in what most months would be the shallows. See 1910 photo.

Also I believe what you say is true. Slits are not used for modern net weights. My premise is these ARE NOT modern. I am asking if any forum members know of the fabrication of lead sinkers prior to 1900. Back then, I am not sure they mass produced net sinkers without slits. Finally, if they are modern (within 50 years) one of the 70 I’ve found would’ve had residue of rubber. If it is modern, some rubber would be crimped inside one of these lead fishing items.

Thanks Gunsill and Crash…..
 
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gunsil

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Metal detectors cannot tell what kind of metal you have. Your detector cannot tell the difference between pure lead and alloyed lead like wheel weights. All net weights are made to roll on the bottom line, they cannot be crimped on or have slits in them. Don't know why you are having such a hard time understanding this. Your lead items are way to small for any but a small minnow net and those on minnow nets do not have seams. No net leads have seams, they are cast with a steel rod in the center and then the rod is removed to provide the hole for the net line.
 
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USNFLYR

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Metal detectors cannot tell what kind of metal you have. Your detector cannot tell the difference between pure lead and alloyed lead like wheel weights. All net weights are made to roll on the bottom line, they cannot be crimped on or have slits in them. Don't know why you are having such a hard time understanding this. Your lead items are way to small for any but a small minnow net and those on minnow nets do not have seams. No net leads have seams, they are cast with a steel rod in the center and then the rod is removed to provide the hole for the net line.
Gunsil. Thanks. I will visit a tackle shop. So you think these are modern? I am after all requesting an era. So how modern? TIA
 
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USNFLYR

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Hmmm. So far, nobody has suggested an age/era. The best guess (Gunsil) suggest these are rubber core sinkers, not lead and very modern. Crash Bandicoot and Gare agree and Crash thinks these could also be lead anchor bolt fasteners. I am checking those leads (pun intended).

It is interesting no one studied how "worked" these individual items were. Did my pictures not down load? I find it odd that most of these lead items had unique man made markings. The lead was shaped and struck by a tool (knife)? Non symmetric design. Non standard length. That usually rules out “MODERN“ as modern sinkers were probably made in a factory. Finally (see below) I took a screen shot of tips that were cut off. Please look closely at the edges indicating they were snipped or cut off. I have many more of these odd throwaway lead pieces…..

So, let’s say everyone is right these are modern sinkers. Why are anglers cutting the tips off? Are they doing this action before or after applying the sinker to the line? Maybe the fishermen had an operation on site when salmon were running and they were molding sinkers during the salmon run? Once again thanks for everyone that took the time to look at the photos and rule out my theory. Off to the tackle shop!
 

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USNFLYR

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Hmmm. So far, nobody has suggested an age/era. The best guess (Gunsil) suggest these are rubber core sinkers, not lead and very modern. Crash Bandicoot and Gare agree and Crash thinks these could also be lead anchor bolt fasteners. I am checking those leads (pun intended).

It is I nteresting no one studied how "worked" these individual items were. Did my pictures not down load? I find it odd that most of these lead items had unique man made markings. The lead was shaped and struck by a tool (knife)? Non symmetric design. Non standard length. That usually rules out “MODERN“ as modern sinkers were probably made in a factory. Finally (see below) I took a screen shot of tips that were cut off. Please look closely at the edges indicating they were snipped or cut off. I have many more of these odd throwaway lead pieces…..

So, let’s say everyone is right these are modern sinkers. Why are anglers cutting the tips off? Are they doing before or after applying the sinker to the line? Maybe they had an operation on site when salmon were running and they were molding sinkers during the salmon run? Once again thanks for everyone that took the time to look at the photos and rule out my theory. Off to the tackle shop!
 

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USNFLYR

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Also note that the two sinkers in the middle (above photo) show no open seam/slit. They would’ve fully affixed to the line with no gap. This adds to the theory that most of my lead fishing items are only "slit" in nature because they were pried off a line?
 
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USNFLYR

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Gunsil. Thanks. I will visit a tackle shop. So you think these are modern? I am after all requesting an era. So how modern? TIA
Gunsil,
I will mark this as "solved" not because of your opinion on the item but due to your advice to seek out a tackle shop. I’ll wrap it up below. Thanks again.
 
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USNFLYR

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All,

I visited a tackle shop: Anglers West (Woodland Wa). I brought 6 lead sinkers and 1 snipped off "tip" with me. Owner Keith confirmed these lead sinkers were once affixed to gill nets. He is unsure about the seine net. His family are gill netters from Alaska and Oregon and go back many generations.
1) Indentations are rope marks. The sinkers were wrapped around cotton lines.
2) They were molded by hand. The anglers had special pliers and tools to apply them to the nets and tools to ply them off.
3) He showed me rubber core sinkers. They are very thin and very light. He agrees that these are not core sinkers.
4) He says the lead was placed on a "lead line" in increments based on weight needed. He also said that the old salmon nets were of a hemp/rope design therefore got heavy as they got wet….less lead weights were needed.
5) He thinks these came from set nets. One leg of the net is "set" (anchored) to the beach while a boat was rowed in circle back to the beach.
6) He stated that near the canneries of Astoria, huge operations of seine/gill netting occurred, and that up in Alaska native Americans still practice this kind of fishing.
6) He puts the age as "much older" than 1900.

* solved, thanks to Keith
 
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USNFLYR

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Nice work! Are you going to continue research into when those types of nets were used on that beach to get a date estimate?
Yup….Keith said a book was written about the Astoria salmon industry. It includes gill net information. I am searching that lead now.
 
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Molewacker

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Agree, homemade gillnet weights - I found a group of them at Reeder point on Sauvie Island under a tree. According to the family of the farm/campground a regular in the 50's/60's would string a gillnet in a area between 2 old pilings for salmon and store his cotton net hanging in a cedar tree. One year he didn't return, the cotton rotted away and I found the lead. I searched my detecting pics, don't have a photo. But many of them were strips of lead folded and then looked to be wrapped around the rope.
 
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unclemac

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yep, I find these up in the Willapa all the time at old habitation sites. If you figure Shoalwater Bay was settled using 1850 as a start date and adding to that the bottles that also come out of these sites as between 1870 and 1900... you get a pretty good idea of the date. The Astoria and mouth of the Columbia area are FULL of old cannery sites, the old pilings are everywhere. Great idea to head to the tackle shop, there is a wealth of information in the local population.
 
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