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Mallardtone duck calls are good entry-level collectables

Sadly, for the duck hunting enthusiast, our Minnesota duck season is coming to a close. For those die hard hunters, let's talk about the ever popular and collectible Mallardtone duck call. Our reference for this week is the book, "The Art of American Game Calls," by Russell E. Lewis.

According to Lewis, advertising for this call was first found around the late 1950's. Compared to many other duck call companies, the Mallardtone is a relatively newcomer to the market. However, don't let that mislead you in regards to their interest with duck call collectors. They are best known for their duck calls models M-5 DC and M-295 DCJ. The M-295 is a smaller version of the M-5 and was quite popular with fathers when purchasing calls for their sons. The M-295 required less air to make call sounds and fit easily into the small hands of young duck hunters.

I read recently the Mallardtone Company was sold to Ridgemont Outdoors.

In the 1960s the Mallardtone call company produced duck, goose, predator, squirrel, turkey, (box type) hawk, deer, pheasant, crow and coon call. For this discussion, I will focus only on their duck calls. Initial cost of the entry-level call was $2.95. Deluxe calls were available for $10, over twice the cost of other calls. The earliest address I could find for this company was Rock Island, Ill. Later packaging has an address for Moline, Ill., with a zip code. That's good to know so you don't "get burnt" buying what someone says is an early Mallardtone call and it doesn't have the Rock Island address. The earliest calls from the 1950s have a metal reed.

Mallardtone calls are made of walnut with a very nice finish. Part of the appeal of this call is the engraving on the body. The type of call is easy to distinguish because of the diagram on the call. If it is a duck call you will find a flying duck on the body, goose call had a flying goose and the like. Above each engraving was the wording "Mallardtone" These calls are very pleasing to the eye which is why collectors search them out.

We should talk about other features of Mallardtone calls, which helps date and identify them. According to Lewis, earlier calls have a red wedge block as part of the stopper. Such a call is pre-1965. Earlier calls were packaged in a paper one piece box with clear plastic cover glued to the paper. That box has a Moline, Ill., address. That container has a paper insert, which gives instructions on use, care and treatment. Newer packaging from the 1990s is heavy plastic. The M-5 DC call is about 4 3/4" long and as noted the M-295 DCJ is shorter. Each duck call has a lathe cut in the stopper and barrel for a lanyard.

As with all collectibles you need a call in mint condition to appeal to the masses. Lewis' book states calls alone in super condition are worth $50 each. Based on what I see on eBay, that is not the case. Current range on that venue is $10 to $30. An exception would be a Mallardtone call with red wedge block with older style box and paper insert. Add the correct box with paper insert and you could fetch $40.

There is speculation in the Lewis book that many of these calls were sold by salesmen without the box. I have found most of the time these calls come without the box. Don't let that deter you from owning one of these delightful items. They will serve you well as an entry level collectible or on the duck slough. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.