Michael Vallero (1906-1983) Spring Valley, IL
Mike Vallero was a commercial carver known throughout the Peoria and Chicago area. For the local hunter who could not afford Perdew rigs, a Vallero rig was a good buy with each decoy selling for a dollar a piece (Engers 245). Vallero worked out of his basement workshop and produced a decoy typical to the area. Using white pine, he created long hollow decoys with rounded features and well-turned squarish heads featuring prominent bills and detailed carving. Breasts are somewhat straight, and the tails tilt upwards. Vallero worked with hand tools and had a bit of help from his wife for the final sanding. He was not a masterful artist, so he primed his birds and then sent them out to be painted before sale. Most of these decoys were done by Edna Perdew or Henry Holmes. What he lacked in painting skills, Vallero made up for in amount of production. He carved thousands of mallards and pintails and did a fair amount of other species for the West End Gun Club near Spring Valley. Though overshadowed by the popularity of Charlie Perdew, Mike Vallero still produced some of Illinois River's finest decoys.