Mason's Decoy Factory (William James Mason) Detroit, MI
Though the factory had a humble beginning in a shed behind William Mason's house, the business burgeoned and moved two times before closing down. Mason did not run the factory himself, but left that responsibility in the capable hands of one of his sons, Herbert.
Many Mason decoys are still in working condition. Their continuing popularity and durability is owed to the Mason carvers who took pride in their work and created the best product possible. There is nothing fancy about Mason decoys, but the shape of a head, arch of a neck or detailed bill carving keep these decoys from being ordinary. Earlier models have chubby faces, flat bottoms and a pronounced slope of the breast. On later models, the breast is less exaggerated and the decoys have an overall sleeker look. Over the years, the paint jobs done by hand remained consistently superior with blended colors under dotted, spattered, stippled and streaked designs.
Mason's Decoy Factory produced several different grades of decoys: Premier, Challenge, No.1 Glass Eye, No.2 Tack Eye and No. 3 Painted Eye. These are the names used by the company; collectors will often refer to Nos. I, 2 and 3 collectively as "Detroit" or "standard" grade. In addition to the popular mallards, canvasbacks and scaup, Mason carvers produced old squaws, swans, white-winged scoters, wood ducks, crows and doves. Mason's Decoy Factory must have produced thousands of decoys during its twenty or thirty some years of operation.