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Wooden Decoys Were Mass Produced

Mass-produced wooden duck decoys became available by the 1880s. Hand-carvers were still needed to produce the molds.

Manufactured bird decoys appeared on the market in the 1880s. There were three companies that developed good businesses in this field - the Mason Decoy Factory, the Dodge Decoy Factory, and the C.W. Stevens Factory. All three offered a general line of wooden decoys, with their standard ducks selling for about 50 cents each.

Although mass-produced, the decoy companies also required the skills of hand-carvers, since the first step in decoy manufacture was to carve a model. The bodies of the birds were then formed on duplicating lathes. However, handwork continued to be employed in the finishing and painting departments, also.

The Mason factory listed itself as “the largest exclusive manufacturer of decoys in the world.” During its 25 years of operation, from 1890 to 1914, it shipped thousands of birds around the United States.

There were wooden lures for almost every kind of wild bird hunted. In addition to ducks, Mason made geese, shorebirds, swans and even some crows.

They were all made of cedar, but placed in four different grades of quality - Premier, Challenge, Standard (Detroit,) and Fourth. The fourth grade was where Mason sold its mistakes.

The Premier pieces sold for 21 dollars a dozen. They were usually hollow, while the other grades were solid. The hollow bodies were harder to make, but preferred by sportsmen because of their light weight.

A much older reference book on decoys that contains information on the above companies, in addition to hand carvers, is Wild Fowl Decoys, by Joel Barber. First published by Windward House in 1934, it was reprinted by Dover Publications in 1954.

Collecting Antique Bird Decoys and Duck Calls, by Carl F. Luckey, is another older reference book on the subject. It was published by Books Americana in 1992.

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Flies Weren’t Popular In Early
Days Either

Do you have a crocheted piece, probably round, that is weighted down at the edges? You probably have a Victorian jug cover.

In Victorian times, there was no object that could not be enhanced by adding some type of embellishment to it. Milk jugs are just one example.

Jug covers, made of crocheted lace and weighted down with beads around the edges, were placed over the jugs in the pantry to keep flies out of the liquid. They could also be used to keep flies out of the lemonade.

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Crackle Is Crazing, But Done On Purpose

What is the difference between crazing and crackle in the glaze of a ceramic piece? One way to describe the difference is that crazing happens by accident and crackling is done on purpose.

Crazing is the network of tiny lines, or cracks, that may develop in the glaze due to a manufacturing defect, usually in the firing or cooling process. It often happens over long periods of time, so is most often found on older pieces.

Crackling is a similar network of tiny lines that is caused deliberately to give a desired decorative effect.

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