Book Review

From Hunting & Fishing Collectibles Magazine, Volume 15, Number 4, July-August, 2015, p. 74. View PDF »

MASON DECOYS, A Complete Pictorial Guide
By Russ J. Goldberger & Alan G. Haid

Review by Jim Cullen, H&FC Magazine Books Editor

Mason Book ReviewThe novice decoy collector will most certainly include among his early treasures a decoy made by the Mason Decoy Factory, Detroit, MI. Mason decoys are plentiful, reasonable in price and seemingly easy to identify. The proud collector is confident with his growing expertise until a more experienced collector explains to the neophyte that the decoy in his collection is not a Mason by was made by the Petersen, Dodge, Pratt, or Hayes decoy factories. Thus, the need for this Guide.

The authors, Russ Goldberger and Alan Haid, have been prominent waterfowl decoy collectors since the late 1970's. They have contributed their time and resources to decoy events nationally. Their opinions matter. The quality of this book is a reflection of their professionalism and expertise.

The authors first published this Guide in 1993. An Expanded Edition was issued in 2003. It featured thirty three additional pages and 123 more photos. This 2014 Updated Edition does in fact update and contain revised thinking about the Petersen and Dodge decoy factories, as well as some recent photos and auction results.

The reader will find that the Mason Decoy Factory began in the late 1800s, closed in 1924, and was located in Detroit, MI. It followed the earlier Detroit based Petersen Decoy Factory and Dodge Decoy Factory. The histories of all three intertwine and some similarities in the decoys may confuse. The Mason Factory produced three grades of decoys with variations within. To add to the issues of identification, special orders were filled based on individual client styling and regional design. Additionally, unpainted decoys were sold for the hunter to paint.

Fifteen chapters cover all the species of ducks, geese, and shore birds represented in Mason Decoys. For each species, within each grade of decoy, the bill carving and paint pattern differ. Clear color photos and a concise, straight forward text document these subtle multiformities.

Important is the chapter covering the comparisons of Mason Decoys with those of nine other factories. Specific resemblances in paint, carving, and size are discussed and illustrated with photos. The result is sufficient information to preclude most misidentification.

The final chapters cover the auction of the collection of the late Dr. Jim McCleary; a discussion of the topics of restoration and condition affecting value; photos of old catalogues, advertising and salesman's samples plus a justified conclusion that Mason Factory decoys have a place in any collection.

Few "decoy books" are essential for any collector, however Mason Decoys: A Complete Pictorial Guide qualifies. The Updated Edition may be purchased for $63.95 through Russ Goldberger, PO Box 60, Rye NH 03870;; 603-433-1770. Of interest to many should be the digital version which may be the digital version which may be searched by word, permits blow up photos, and is easy to use at shows and auctions. Depending on your device, it may be downloaded for $19.95 as follows: Kindle (; iPad (; Nook (; and others (