The many sounds of Herter's calls
One of the more highly sought after hunting collectibles involves duck calls. A high end, vintage duck call is worth hundreds of dollars. It is with that train of thought I bring you this week's article on Herter's duck calls.
As always, their catalog is invaluable in educating yourself on the many styles that the Herter's company produced. The next best resource I have found regarding these calls is Doug Lodermeier's book titled, "Minnesota Duck Calls-Yesterday and Today's Folk Artists." Contained in this delightful book are over 60 pages of quality information on the multitude of Herter's calls.
To help you understand the magnitude of Herter's in the 1950s and 60s, consider at the peak of their operation there were six stores. Herter's mailed one million catalogs yearly and filled 3,000 to 4,000 orders daily for their thousands of products. Make no mistake, this company was a major player in hunting and fishing products at that time. Their product awareness is a major reason for the high interest in collecting Herter's products today, especially their wide range of calls.
The earliest calls had a metal plate with Herter's stamped on it. This call had a wood stopper Reelfoot style, and was pre-1940 with metal reed.
Lodermeier's research clearly illustrates the many types of calls made, including their No. 89 call. Some styles were never advertised. Obviously, these are the most valuable and difficult to find.
Later calls have plastic reeds and clear stoppers (the end you blow into). The "Glodo" style became a Herter's standard, and are found relatively easily today. More sought after "Glodo's" have metal reeds inside the call with a green stopper. George Herter made calls of exotic woods and walnut.
Another popular call made by this company was their "Lifetime" line. Other model numbers to look for are No. 272, 351, 139, 283, 279 and their shaker model (very similar to the well known Scotch call) 293. Space prohibits me from going into detail on these many models. My goal is simply to inform you on the many types available in the open market for you to sell or collect. I will say again, it is imperative to know these styles no matter what type of transaction you are considering. It is what drives market value.
For example, the Herter's No. 283 "Vit Glodo" master duck call has an African Circassion barrel. Their No. 279 "Vit Glodo" is a tiger wood call with pure chronil reed and brown marbleized stopper. No surprise here you will pay more for those two than the more common run of the mill "Glodo" style.
What about value? Back in the 1960s most of these calls retailed from $3.50 to $10 each. Today, most of the more common Herter's call will cost you $25 to $50 each. The rare calls can cost you $100 or more.
Some of the calls I mentioned, I have never seen other than in catalogs or books. That should give you some idea as to their value and difficulty in obtaining. Keep in mind, condition is paramount to a calls' value. Once again, the best reference for current prices being paid is eBay. A good paper box, for the correct call will about double the value of the product. Remember, hunting ducks often takes place in a wet environment. That's very bad for paper products. I recommend you buy a call with the proper box every time you can, rather than just the call. It's good insurance in retaining the value of your purchase. If you're selling, the same holds true. Demand more for your Herter's call if you have one in very good shape with the box.
A quick closing comment -- the market, even in this area, remains weak, meaning I don't recommend selling unless your call is rare. Instead, look to make a good purchase with your hard earned dollars. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.