Published July 02, 2010, 01:54 PM

Herter’s lead duck decoy weights are very collectable

Last time we talked about the Herter’s Company, located many years ago in Waseca, Minn. Now it’s time to start discussing some of the many collectibles available from this company. There is almost an unlimited selection of items to talk about. After giving some serious thought to what to begin our dialogue with, I chose an item that will have many of you scratching your head and thinking I have got to be kidding, but I am not.

By: MARK GREENIG Special to the Record, DL-Online

Last time we talked about the Herter’s Company, located many years ago in Waseca, Minn. Now it’s time to start discussing some of the many collectibles available from this company. There is almost an unlimited selection of items to talk about. After giving some serious thought to what to begin our dialogue with, I chose an item that will have many of you scratching your head and thinking I have got to be kidding, but I am not. 

Herter’s catalog states their duck decoy anchors and keels, “are time-proven and have long been accepted by hunters all over the world as the best procurable for the purpose.” Yes, many a collector searches out lead duck decoy weights from this company. My research from Herter’s 1967 product catalog offers three different weight styles. 

First, is the full length bottom weight and keel. These weights were designed to run almost the entire length of the decoy.   A big advantage of this style was its ability so self right a decoy when tossed into the water. They sold for 30 cents each or $2.60 a dozen. For whatever reason, I find this style the most difficult to find.

Second style was their ring-type anchor. As you would expect, this weight is somewhat circular in design and was often placed around the head when transporting decoys. This prevented  weights from becoming tangled with others, thus saving the hunter frustration and time. Ring-type anchors came is two sizes, standard and extra large. Prices were 28 cents or $2.45 a dozen standard. Extra large were 55 cents each or $4.17 a dozen. These weights have plow-shapped grabbers, which held the bottom well, thus stopping decoys from slipping in heavy waves.

Third style was the grapple-type anchor. They look like an upside down mushroom with claws. The claws were designed to hold on the hardest gravel which was often found along the east and west coasts. An additional feature of this anchor was its ability to have sediment wash away when a hunter pulled it from the bottom. Again, this weight came in two sizes, and extra large. This weight was the least expensive, costing 25 cents each or $2.27 a dozen standard size. Extra large were only 45 cents each or $3.47 a dozen. All Herter’s weights have their name stamped on the bottom. Be sure to look for that before you buy.

Many of you may be thinking individuals who collect and pay good money for lead decoy weights have lead for brains. Not so.  In Donna Tonelli’s book titled, “Top of the Line Hunting Collectibles,” she shares a photo from a serious collector who searches out all types of decoy weights. The picture from his collection is impressive.

Before you further scoff at this idea, let’s talk about decoy weight values. I shared prices for Herter’s weights back in 1967. A quick eBay search will give you much needed guidance on Herter’s decoy weight values in today’s economy. Prices will usually start at $7-$10 each, with some vendors asking $20 per weight.  My advice to you is if you can find Herter’s weights for $7 or less, buy them. A commonly accepted price is $10 each.  A price tag over $10, in my opinion, is to much. If you buy at the lower price and want to sell, you have a profit margin that is acceptable.

In closing, this example of collecting lead decoy weights, strange as it seems, should broaden your perspective on the wide and diverse arena of items that collectors look for.

For the record, I do collect decoy weights. Thought you should know. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.

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