A Good Man Called Keith

Keith Baker, Mambri Lures
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vince.
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A Good Man Called Keith

Post by vince. » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:34 am

I had this post up some time back & deleted it after I got annoyed when the "Keith`s Dead" story was eagerly promoted by a couple of stupid vindictive people. I thought, what`s the point trying to get some hopefully correct info out, when so many will readily join in on B***s**t. Anyway a change of heart after Albert pointed out what an idiot I am.

A Good Man Called Keith.

There is very little known about one of the most gifted carvers of lures this country will probably ever have. With the success of moulded lures & machined timber lures; carved lures are a niche market item these days. Many can carve lures & some carve brilliant lures with great ability & outstanding results. The shape & life that Keith could, & still can, put into his lures, even to this day, in my opinion, has not been bettered.

Unfortunately, his lures were never made in great numbers. They were not however, made in very limited numbers to satisfy needs of hungry collectors with large amounts of time given to them in order to increase value. They were made to fish & were sold for very little profit at the time. This is one of the reasons Keith stopped making lures & the same pressures apply today to those who still hand-carve lures for an even smaller market.

The main reason for his early finish was the unethical people who ripped him off & left him disillusioned with the lure making business. The need to distance himself from these kind of people, led to a belief that he had passed away & this then led to many stories about him. Unfortunately not many seem to be accurate. I think that there are those who still want to believe he is no longer with us & there is even a claim to having been to his funeral. I have read where one lure maker claimed Keith asked him for help in increasing production, he couldn`t personally, but did steer him in the right direction apparently. When I questioned Keith on this, he said he had never spoken to the man.

Some of what I write here has come from conversations I`ve had with Keith & is really some of his story, as told by him. The other, is my thoughts & opinions on his story. My opinions may offend some, but are based on what Keith has told me. My only claim to accuracy comes from a belief in Keith`s word, nothing else. Please let me know if his facts are wrong so I can make the necessary modifications, both to the story & my opinions.

A intensely private man, so some of the details will be sketchy in order to keep Keith`s present details private. This is done at Keith`s request & not because of some selfish desire of my own, as some think.

Keith is now in his 70`s, but as a young fella he lived on a Dairy in Vic with his share farming family. This is where his love for nature & all things in it, started. Any spare time he had he spent in the bush looking closely at bugs, plants & anything else he could find of interest. I reckon the life in his creations comes from his love & knowledge of the finer details in nature, he gained in those days.

His lure making began while he lived near Armidale in the 80`s, when he moved to Ulamambri in the 90`s, he started producing under the name “Mambri Lures”. It was while he was at Ula, where most of his lures were made; he discovered that the type of dealings done by some; can really leave you shattered. After he moved on, a few batches were made, but finally, disappointment took its toll.

Contrary to popular belief, Keith never gave away the rights to any of his lures, only the right to copy them. He has never received a penny in royalties (as he claims was promised) & when the Kra-bob was copied the second time (although they would no doubt deny it`s a copy), those concerned never even had the decency to approach him, but rather, had the attitude that he was just a silly old **** from the bush who wouldn`t know any better. Add to this, the lack of payment for a large batch sent to Qld years ago that was later sold(to a collector) as part of a larger collection for a considerable amount, & I think anyone will understand Keith`s feelings & justified distain for the lure community & particularly all those involved in these dealings.

Keith, although never a wealthy man, he has a wealth of knowledge & a love of nature that shines in him. His health doesn`t allow much fishing these days but he has a great passion for native orchids, his dog Kelly & no doubt his lovely wife of many, many years. I am fortunate to consider him a mate & very fortunate that he still carves a few “Specials” for a good mate & myself. His hands are not good these days & he can no longer paint them, but being the hungry (& very fortunate) collector that I am, I am happy to receive some that are only made to collect, not fish & in clear timber & twisted wires.

A bit about Keith`s lures.
Firstly they are not Baker Crays, that`s the name of a moulded copy. The Gremlin is another name for a moulded surface lure copy. Keith called his surface lures, Jesus lures for obvious reasons. Many seem to only associate Keith with his Kra-Bob, but he carved dozens of different types of Critters alone without the dozens of different Minnow styles added to this. All of Keith`s lures had a full wire through them, placed in a groove & then filled with Araldite. I haven`t tried this, but Keith claims you have to destroy the lure to get the wire out. They are first undercoated, or primed, by dipping them in very thin Clear coat as many times as it takes to soak it into the timber & completely seal the lure.

Very few had painted eyes & all that did, were done in the 80`s, one notable lure with eyes painted on the rear, was done long before it became common practice. Keith had a lot of panel beating, spay-painting experience, but still a few of the early ones were done with spray cans. If they had whiskers on them, they were all done from the same brushes & if it has whiskers, but it hasn`t got those bristles, it aint a Mambri. A handful of his earliest Cray style lures had Mono whiskers before he went to the bristles & long before they were called Mambri Lures.

All his lures were carved with a Victorinox budding knife that Keith called “Victa”. Old “Victa” is now retired & only a few specials have been done since by “Victa 2”. He mainly used Radiata & still prefers to use it. Some of the Specials done recently are of Cedar & Beech.

For those (like myself) that pay good money for Keith`s lures now, it`s important to remember that like everyone else in those days, he was paid $5-$8 for all the lures he made back then.

Keith, his beautiful Wife & his dog Kelly are all a pleasure to know, he is a good mate & a real nice bloke & because of this, my opinion of the people who have done him wrong is biased in that respect. They know who they are & probably think little about it; it happens every day for people like that & as none of them ever met Keith or knew him personally, why not.

There`s talk of elevating Keith Baker to legend status by those who think that sort of thing has value, I am not one of them. I wonder if the importance he has been given by some collectors today, would have given him protection from the abuses he received from the “big named” people & others in the fishing & lure world in years gone by. Of course, he was just a little known lure maker from the bush in those days. Something I find astounding is that there are some who sing his praises, but also share in the deceit.

As collectors, some of us get carried away with the lures; others need to know the makers story. This maker`s story, unfortunately, is one of disappointment. A man who`s brilliant ability to carve shapes & breathe life into his lures, had his spark extinguished by the greed of others. Legend or not, it`s important to remember, he never received one cent in royalties & not even a mention from one well known company & it`s so called “respected” front men. None of this affects any of us as collectors, we all like to pretend it`s just about the lures. The only one really affected here, is the one we would make a legend.

As always, I wonder about the need for & the motives & criteria involved in the creation of any legends. Keith`s no legend, (no one is), nor does he suffer from an inflated ego. He`s just an ordinary, likeable, good hearted man with a more than ordinary ability to carve timber. To me, this makes him a good man, good at his job & a pleasure to know. It`s a shame, but maybe a lot more would know him if he had been treated fairly.
Regards.....Vince.

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Re: A Good Man Called Keith

Post by vince. » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:57 am

Just to add to this post.

Keith may not have all of his memories 100% right. He never kept journals or records, but he doesn`t tell lies to promote himself. He doesn`t claim to have designed anything he didn`t, doesn`t claim to have been making lures for longer than he did or started before he did just to appear more credible. Never ripped-off anyone in the lure world, doesn`t claim to be a genius or know more about lures or fishing than anyone else. Like anyone, he does like it when you appreciate his work, but doesn`t seek constant praise or importance like many do.

Unlike myself thumbsupsmilie , Keith is not perfect, but no one can deny that he`s a good man.
Regards.....Vince.

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Re: A Good Man Called Keith

Post by jimmymate » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:29 pm

Great read Vince. clapclap

Im guessing Keith (having not met him) doesnt want anyone feeling sorry for him but it is quite a sad story. It does make you think about the makers and not just the lures that the great majority would step over their own children to obtain.

Jimmy

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Re: A Good Man Called Keith

Post by Rellik-doc-rob » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:38 pm

jimmymate wrote:Great read Vince. clapclap

Im guessing Keith (having not met him) doesnt want anyone feeling sorry for him but it is quite a sad story. It does make you think about the makers and not just the lures that the great majority would step over their own children to obtain.

Jimmy
Dead right Jimmy ,

Kieth is not the first lure maker that was taken advantage of , or ripped off. But unfortunately it happened to him more than once. A real shame.
His legacy is still his lures , but as Vince says..... he does not seek fame or notoriety.

More importantly...... Guess what..... he is still alive...... F*CK the spreaders of the B*LLSH*T that he is dead.

Some of those B*LLS*TTERS , would probably hope he was dead , so he didn't expose them for the thieves they are , and how they took advantage of his trusting mannerism.

RDR
Rellik-Doc-Rob...

The Harder I work, the luckier I get...

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Re: A Good Man Called Keith

Post by vince. » Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:27 pm

jimmymate wrote:Great read Vince. clapclap

Im guessing Keith (having not met him) doesnt want anyone feeling sorry for him but it is quite a sad story. It does make you think about the makers and not just the lures that the great majority would step over their own children to obtain.

Jimmy
I have to agree with Rob, dead right Jimmy. clapclap
Regards.....Vince.

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