'Scotch' duck calls were truly 'amazing'
Any "baby boomer" who hunted waterfowl as a teenager is familiar with the "Amazing Scotch Duck Call." Its' history is simple, but to this its' design serves as an icon to the old saying of build a better mouse trap.
In 1955 Max Harley applied for a patent on his new design duck call. He felt many hunters were overly concerned with proper duck calling techniques, thus shying away from their use. Harley's idea was so basic it had many people scratching their heads saying, "Why didn't I think of that?" You did not blow this call, rather you squeezed or shook it in your hand. The technique was so simple and effective that Max's call became an instant hit. Its' main claim to fame is when you shake the rubber end it sounds amazingly realistic to an actual duck feeding call.
My experience with this call (I used one extensively) is that it works. Probably the most common "Scotch Call" is model no. 1401. It's a two part duck call consisting of a traditional looking wooden 4 1/4" duck call inserted into about an eleven inch black rubber apparatus resulting in a 12.5" finished product. The rubber piece resembles a coiled spring and is unmistakable once you have seen one. Packaging is a two piece cardboard box just over 13" long. The wood grain looking box top has a yellow and white paper header glued to it. The paper header always states, "The Amazing Scotch Duck Call" with a picture of the call and minor duck graphics in the background. The bottom of box is white with grey interior.
The company was first located in Detroit, Mich. Early boxes state, "patent pending." Later boxes, such as those stamped Oakfield, New York, state a patent number of 2782558, a zip code and a purchase price of $7.50. That tidbit is good to remember when attempting to date these items. All "Scotch Calls" have their company information embossed into the narrow end of the rubber attachment.
A complete package includes two inserts. The yellow 5" by 7" piece is an instruction sheet on how to use the "Scotch" call. The second green/yellow 8.5" by 9" insert was the company's product flyer. The Scotch Company made this call design for duck, geese, crows and predators. All at one time sold for that $7.50 figure.
There are many factors to be concerned with when determining value for a model 1401, Oakfield, New York, made "Scotch Call." Make sure you have the proper call, box and two inserts in at least near mint condition. Duck calls were used in wet environments and we all know that paper and water don't mix. We also know rubber becomes brittle when exposed to long-term periods of daylight. Any piece of this puzzle that isn't in great condition dramatically reduces its' value. Coupled with an ample supply in the open market, it becomes even more challenging to get top dollar. Sellers with what they perceive to be a mint "Scotch" duck call with all the "trimmings" are asking upwards of $70. Great if you're selling. However, if buying, that figure seems high. With patience, you should get a nice "Scotch" package for no more than half of that figure. Just the call in very good condition is available for $10 to $15. As with many entry-level collectibles, not only are they collectible, but functional as well. This call will work for you in the upcoming waterfowl season. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.