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HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS

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HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS
 Good morning, All~


As a "sideline hobby" that even I do not fully understand, I collected a couple of early Herter's hollow plastic decoys this Fall. I am not a true "collector" of decoys - mostly because I cannot afford those antique stool that really catch my eye. Instead, I have gathered up a bunch of decoys that have a special meaning to me - a sort of nostalgia-driven collection.



I have posted earlier about my activity over the past couple of years - especially in 2017 - with Herter's smaller foam-bodied decoys - the Model 63s: hollow Tenite heads on Durlon foam bodies. [ https://stevenjaysanford.com/...ters-smaller-decoys/ ] I did not grow up with such birds. My Dad had the balsa-bodied Model Canadas and later the classic Model 72s - especially the Broadbill which were the Gold Standard for many decades; both were over-sized decoys. We did not own any hollow-bodied plastic decoys but I was aware of them - probably from the Herter's catalog.







I first acquired one in 2017 whilst on my quest for a pair of Model 63 Pintails. They were (and are) hard to find. Along the way, I bought a worn-out Model 50 Pintail that I rehabbed and re-painted.









Any waterfowler who has grown up with the Herter's catalog as "study material" cannot forget the photo of George L. Herter demonstrating the strength of Tenite - the plastic used for the heads on some decoys and the entire decoy on others. His vivid demonstration involved a fence post.....







(In practice, most of us learned that Tenite shatters - conchoidal fracture - when struck by shotgun pellets.)



One hollow Tenite bird, though, that had always caught my eye in the old catalogs was one that had a really sweet head and chest - one that truly looked like a Broadbill to me. I had never seen one in-hand but was always drawn to it. In some catalogs it was presented as a Model 50 Redhead - with the Model 50 Bluebill a completely different decoy.







In the earlier catalog, though, it appears as the Model 59 - both Redhead and Bluebill. The upright head, full(ish) crown and especially the sweet transition from neck to chest looked just right.







Also, the body on the Model 50 (and foam Model 63) does not (in my opinion) have the correct proportions for a Broadbill/Bluebill. The sides are too long and the tail section is too short. My theory is that the body was designed for a Canvasback and not a Broadbill. The pochards - the Aythya species including Can, Redhead, the Scaups and Ring-neck - have many features in common but their body proportions vary markedly.



So, I added the Model 59 Bluebill - and probably a Model 50 Bluebill, too - on my "need it" list when searching the interwebs. Knowing I can get Model 50s from a friend on Long Island for about $10 each, I did not need much "ammunition" (i.e., cash) for this electronic hunt. Also, I did not want anything in "mint condition, original paint". Whereas a real collector would prize such specimens, I planned to repaint anything I found with my own gunner scheme. So, anything worn or repainted was much more desirable to me.





The first hollow Herter's I got was this Model 50 Bluebill. It's price was about the same as a box of shells.







This Model 59 was much harder to find - but did not cost much more - maybe 2 boxes of shells with the shipping. I think she's mostly original paint - but the powder-blue bill and the white mustache and speculum were no doubt added to the factory paint.








In its day, the Model 59 was billed as a less expensive alternative to the Model 50. Both lines were essentially life-size. (Most Great South Bay gunners embraced over-size decoys a long time ago.) I do not know how they performed - but they appear in only the earlier catalogs. The Model 50s were offered well into the 1960s but the Model 59s were, I think, discontinued after just a few years.



Here is the Model 50 "after". I painted in the "dirty" side feathers because the squashed shape of this body exaggerates the sides and narrows the back. And, I suspect Minnesota gunners encounter October-November Bluebills that still have some summer plumage - whereas we on Long Island shoot December-January birds in full nuptial dress.









I took the liberty of fairing the neck-to-chest transition - to match the catalog. Vigorous sanding removed the obvious seams and a wash with acetone made her ready for paint.







As perfect as are the proportions in profile, the plan view of the Model 59 shows a rather narrow body - her beam is a bit shy of 5.5 inches.







I have floated neither - open water being scarce hereabouts with the mercury at 5 degrees right now - but I suspect she would roll quite a bit in a chop. The Model 50 is both wider and flatter and probably lays more nicely in a heavy sea or wind.



(photo in next post - can only show 10 per post)




I think I have achieved my Herter's goals - maybe one more Model 59 to paint as a drake ? In any event, these early hollow plastics will simply ride the shelf; my rehabbed Model 72 Broadbill will go to work.



My next quest involves old Wildfowler Mallards and Blacks - and I think I have rounded up just enough for yet another rig - for next season.



All the best,



SJS
Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Here are a couple more photos....


The side-by-side comparison shows how much beamier is the Model 50 (drake) than the Model 59 (hen).








Here's is the bottom. I'm not sure what fills the keel for ballast.






The Model 50 head has a wider bill - more like a Greater - than the Model 59.






The Model 59 bill is more like the head used on the Model 63s, I believe.






Please let me know of your experience with either Model.


All the best,


SJS



Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


Last edited by:

Steve Sanford: Jan 15, 2019, 1:42 PM
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Love reading these rehab stories from you Steve. Not only do we get to see old decoys come back to life but get a history lesson with it too.

Being young I don't know as much about the Herters so its cool to see the history and difference in the birds from back then.

Thanks for sharing.




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
My typical diver hunting rig consists of mostly Herter's 72 bodies. However, because of me being somewhat of a decoy snob, almost all of mine have been re-shaped. I too, agree the proportions on the 72 Bluebills are off just a bit. I shorten the bodies, drop the tail a bit, round over the entire body, (instead of the rectangular'ish shape of the factory blocks), burlap them, then add a wood tail. I mix up the heads between the original, some old Toledo heads, a few Autumn Wings basswood heads, and a couple misc. Mostly for different head shapes and attitudes.

I like the shapes of those old Herter's plastics too. Very nicely proportioned.

My father gave me a dozen old, plastics many, many years ago, and unfortunately, with growing up, sports, teenage years, falling in love and getting married, moving several times, etc., they have all disappeared except for one with a broken bill. I keep my eyes open constantly for a few replacements, but so far to no avail.

Thanks for taking the time to share!

Jon

"Each decoy you touch holds memories of, past, present and God Willing, future hunts. The places, birds, men, boats, dogs and days you spent doing what you so dearly love and enjoy"- Vince Pagliaorli
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
 
Back in the day, the Herter's catalog was my waterfowl hunting wish book. Could not wait for that thick catalog to arrive. I looked forward to it as much as Jimmie Robinson's yearly waterfowl report. Man those were the days.

Saved my $$. Ordered a dozen, Tenite Hollow Plastic Mallard decoys, and half a dozen, Tenite Hollow Plastic Canada Goose decoys. Still can recall the large cardboard boxes they arrived in sitting on the front porch.

Also ordered the Herter's World Famous Vit Glodo Duck Call, and Herter's World Famous Numara Goose Call.


The dozen Tenite Mallards, were left in PA when I moved to western NY. The Canada Goose decoys are still in my rig.

The calls are resting in their original boxes with instructions. Two of the worst calls ever produced IMO, but they have a place in my call collection, along with so many others.











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Thanks Steve I have my fingers crossed for some help painting Pintails.
South Jersey
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Good morning, Josh~


My shop is clogged with gunners needing fresh paint - but they're mostly Mallards and Blacks - not a Pintail among them. So, I don't see a step-by-step painting tutorial on this species anytime soon.


You have my color charts, correct?


Drake






Hen









These are in the link in my first post (above) - and the Details photos should be useful.


Hope this helps!


SJS



Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Thanks for the chart i didn't have this one looks like i am off to home depot.
South Jersey
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Steve

I had a single Tenite hen mallard I purchased from Herter's back in the 80s. It was probably from one of the last year's they were available. It came with a torpedo motor attached to the keel meant to make it a battery powered swimmer. Unfortunately the torpedo motor, powered by a couple AA batteries, was too weak to move through milfoil so I only used it once. I have no idea what happened to it but sure wish I had held on to it, for it had a lovely shape and I suspect not many survived hunting rigors and mine was mint. Oh well. Nice rehab jobs.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
This morning there were some similar to those bills on eBay, look to be gone already.

Thanks for sharing, I do enjoy the work you put into making theses old decoys back to working condition.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Chuck~


I still see several lots with Model 50 Bluebills - and one that looks like a pair of Model 59 Cans. On the latter, you can appreciate how narrow they are.


Interestingly (to me at least), the owner brought the white on the sides back onto the flanks - because these bodies really belong to Bluebills IMO.


All the best,


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Steve, are you still looking for some 63 pintails? I think I have some that are in really good shape.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Good morning, Len~


Thanks, but, I have my pair of 63s - all restored and ready-to-hunt. We have very few Pintails up here in NY - so a pair in my rig is sufficient.


Thanks very much!


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Steve, how do you determine the difference between the model 50 and 59 broadbill decoy?
I like many would anxiously await for the Herters catalogue to come every spring,my go to for all
my hunting and fishing supplies.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
You offer a lot to the site - if you needed them they?d have been boxed up up and sent pronto tonto out of sheer appreciation for the knowledge you pass down.
Thanks for everything.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Chris~


I cannot be positive - because the catalogs are somewhat confusing. I use 3 main features: head shape/posture; body shape/back width; side feathering.


What is confusing to me is that the Redhead and Bluebill look exactly the same on the Model 59 page:











On the Model 59, the head is upright and the bill in angled down toward the waterline. The sides extend about 2/3 of the way aft, with the tail section about 1/3 of the body length. The photos suggest that at least 2 of the side feathers are carved in relief, but they are not on my Model 59.






On the Model 50 Bluebill, the bill is parallel to the waterline, as if the head is a bit tucked and looking upward. The body is squashed flatter, the back is very (too) narrow and sunken. The sides extend about 3/4 aft and have 5 or so side feathers carved in relief. I painted each one brownish on my Drake Model 50 below.






I readily defer to anyone else with more knowledge. I would love to chat with a real expert. I am especially curious as to what made the Model 59s less expensive - was the Tenite molded thinner? I see no quality difference between my 59 and my 50.



All the best,


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Thank you Steve for your response. I have about a dz of either model 50 or 59, I will dig them out of storage and determine what I have. I had a lot more at one time,but with the decline of broadbill I gave some away. Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge on various subjects.
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Re: HOLLOW PLASTIC HERTER's DECOYS In reply to
Chris~


Just post some photos when you dig 'em out.


All the best,


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com