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Randall fish decoys are a common collectable in this area

Most of this week's information comes from Frank R Baron's book, "Commercial Fish Decoys Identification & Value Guide." The book does exactly what the title indicates, providing information on fish decoys made for commercial sale to the public. Such was the case with George Randall, the founder and sole owner of the Randall Decoy Company in Willmar, Minn.

It's estimated the first Randall catalog flyer was published in the early 1960's. History shows their best seller was a generic decoy called the "Deluxe Decoy." This fish came in four different sizes and 10 different paint schemes. This company also made a sucker decoy in four different sizes, but only one paint pattern called "Golden Sucker." Their largest decoy was a pike style design, 16 inches long, only two paint patterns consisting of red/white and natural pike. The smallest Randall decoy is a red/white 2 1/4 inch miniature.

The easiest method to identify a real Randall fish decoy is to look at the lead weight. Their approach to weighting a decoy was unique in the business and remains quite rare to this day. All Randall decoys have a pre-cast lead weight with the price of the decoy imbedded in the lead. With the exception of very early Randall fish, all decoys have flat sides. All Randall's have metal tails with the exception of their two panfish decoys, the highly sought after sunfish and crappie. Only these two fish had a curved wooden tail.

There were 15 commonly used paint patterns used on Randall panfish. However, some oddball type patterns have been found, such as a natural finish. These fish were probably special order decoys. Early Randall's have a groove cut in the bottom of the head. Decoys without that design were made later. All weights were attached with small nails. Over time those nails would often rust or fall out. A simple task to remedy, but important to look at especially when purchasing a Randall fish.

An all-original Randall is worth much more than a decoy that has been altered. Be aware Randall decoy eyes were machine carved into the head area and sprayed with only two colors. Side fins were most often painted with the same color as the decoy body.

Lastly, Randall fish came in two different style paper boxes. Early boxes were all paper, cover and bottom. Later boxes had a plastic top, which did poorly over time. It cracked easily, making mint boxes of this style hard to find and quite collectible. Sadly, most Randall fish will be found without their original box. Same old song and dance here. A Randall fish in its correct box in mint condition will greatly affect the buying or selling price.

This information will serve you well when searching out or selling Randall fish decoys. I am confident you will find Randall fish decoys common in this area.

With a multitude of different-style Randall fish available, the values for their many sizes and paint schemes are quite varied. Those most in demand are the sunfish/crappie panfish, the 16-inch pike and the red/white miniature. Frank Baron's book values all Randalls from $25 to $90. Remember in many of my articles I shared book values are often over-priced. Read carefully -- that is not the case with this book's price range. In my opinion, values provided are far below current value.

A few examples for your consideration. The two panfish-style Randalls in super shape will command $200 to $400 each. The 16-inch pike, depending on condition, will bring $400 to $700. The miniature fish in mint condition should fetch $30 to $40. As always, add the box and the value goes up at least 25 percent. All other style Randall fish, depending on color and condition, should cost you anywhere from $20 to $90. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.