Although still used for functions including hunting and wildlife control, animal traps have
evolved past the era when animals were captured primarily for trade, food, and clothing. Today,
thousands of vintage animal traps appear in collector’s markets worldwide, representing an
evolution of early functional design and innovation.
Man has trapped animals since the beginning of time, and it’s believed the earliest traps were
typically deadfalls and snares. Documented evidence of traps emerged in the 1600s and 1700s,
when Swedish and English hunting literature described how to design and use the devices. In
North America during the 1700s, blacksmiths began forging metal jaw-style traps, and the first
commercial manufacturing of traps began with Sewell Newhouse and the Oneida Community in
the late 1800s. Newhouse’s enterprise grew so much that by the early 1900s, two of every three
animal traps in the U.S. originated from his factory in Sherrill, New York. Eventually,
unregulated trapping and overharvesting through the 19th century forced many governments to
enact laws regarding wildlife conservation, ultimately reducing animal trapping and the
manufacturing of its equipment.
Vintage traps are both commercially manufactured and handmade. Manufactured traps will
typically bear the maker's name. In the U.S., Newhouse, Victor, and Diamond are common
corporation names inscribed on traps.
The West Virginia State Museum has a trap once used by Daniel Boone to catch
In 2011, an 1880s-era Oneida Newhouse No. 6 bear trap gathered $3,491 on a SoldUSA.com
online auction. This style of trap was nicknamed The Great Bear Tamer
The mousetrap has 4,400 patents, more than any other device in U.S. history