Rare, antique Mason mallard decoy circa 1910
Hummingbear Vintage features unique (often whimsical) vintage and antique decorative items from various parts of the world.
This is a gorgeous, Premier grade hen mallard decoy from the Mason Decoy Factory in Detroit, circa 1910. The company was in business from 1896 to 1924 and was one of the most successful and respected makers of realistic, handmade, commercial decoys.
This duck measures approximately 18" long x 7" tall x 6" wide. It displays all of the typical characteristics of Mason's top grade (out of five) decoys: the Premier Grade models. Premiers like this one are usually hollow—cut in half around the water line and drilled out for lighter weight. Premiers also have a high tail, flat bottom and distinct markings on the bill. There are carved notches at the top of the bill, nostrils cut into the bill further down, and a nail-shaped notch at the tip of the bill. There is also a scored outline between the bill and the face and another that marks the mouth. This duck also has the Premiers' prized glass eyes from Germany (with a particularly small pupil) as well as the superior hand finishing with detailed painting and careful blending of colors. Since this mallard is a female, she has black/brown feathers on top with a spotted, rust-colored body. She is very true to life not only in terms of her coloring but also the larger body size that Mason used for its mallards.
The decoy is in good antique condition. The paint appears to be original and although much has worn off (especially around the edges) the overall effect is quite beautiful. The faded colors are soft and warm, accented by the honey-toned wood below, and the splashes of orange on the beak and green on the wing feathers. As one would expect in a working decoy of this age there are scattered chips, scrapes, surface cracks and gouges (most notably a gouge over the right back wing feather.) Structurally the duck remains solid. The body seam has separated but the two halves of the duck remain firmly attached. As is the norm with Mason decoys, this duck's head was made separately and attached to the body with a dowel and glue. The putty around the neck is missing, allowing the head to turn slightly sideways but it does not move up and down. The original weight has been removed and there is something that rattles inside! (See photos for best understanding of condition.)
This decoy is altogether an exceptional and beautiful find, full of history and endless decorative possibilities. It would make a fine addition to any duck or decoy collection and a striking centerpiece in a cabin or country home.
NOTE: In order to represent my items as accurately as possible I do as much research, and obtain as much information from the seller, as I can. That said, my information is only as good as my sources and my personal knowledge of a particular area. If you have any questions or would like to see more photos please do not hesitate to contact me!
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