Detroit's Decoy Dynasty


On display at DU's Waterfowling Heritage Center 
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid
Memphis, TN

This exciting exhibit celebrates Detroit's original "Big Three" decoy makers—George Petersen, Jasper N. Dodge, and William J. Mason. This pioneering trio of early decoy manufacturers produced thousands of working waterfowl decoys from the late 1800s to the mid-1920s. 


James Goodman's collection of wooden mallard decoys highlights the gradual evolution of Detroit's commercial decoys, from the early backyard models to the later mass-produced Mason's. This display captures the profound impact that these three factories had not only had on one another, but also on numerous decoy makers throughout North America. The collection marks another chapter in Waterfowling Heritage Center's efforts to chronicle the remarkable story of American waterfowling.

About the Curators 

James Goodman began collecting factory-made Detroit decoys more than 30 years ago. In addition to being a passionate decoy collector, he is a lifetime donor of Ducks Unlimited and an avid duck hunter. He lives in western Iowa and is a member of the Greenhead Duck Club. 


William A. Dodge has been collecting decoys for over 40 years. He is a historian of Dodge Decoys and the author of Detroit Decoy Dynasty: The Factory Decoys of Petersen, Dodge, and Mason


Together, Jim and Bill have curated this exhibit of Detroit Factory Decoys to display the relationship between the three early factories and their influence on North America's decoys.

Early Factory Mallard Drake 
George Petersen Factory 
By 1873, Petersen was producing decoys for the waterfowling market. These early decoys had thin bodies and narrow heads.


Premier Canvasback Pair 
Mason's Decoy Factory 
This pair of very early Premier Canvasbacks with extremely long bills are pictured on the dust jacket of Detroit Decoy Dynasty.


Middle Factory Mallard Pair 
J.N. Dodge Decoy Factory–Circa 1885 
These mallards represent the Dodge Factory's finest work. The boldly painted glass-eye Number 1 decoys are from the Peter A. Lee Norman group of samples.


Mason Premier Mallard Pair 
Mason's Decoy Factory 
During the 1890s, Mason's factory produced its most detailed and finest decoys. This hollow Premier-grade pair exhibits Mason's best paint patterns.


Collaborative Mallard Drake 
J.N. Dodge and William Mason 
During the 1890s, demand for greater quantities and less expensive decoys increased. It is believed that the Mason and Dodge factories freely interacted to mass-produce decoys. This decoy has a Mason head with a Dodge body and paint scheme.


Visit these websites for more information on North American decoy collecting: 

Midwest Decoy Collector Association 

Canadian Decoy and Outdoor Collectibles Association 

Great Lakes Decoy Association 

Great Lakes Fish Decoy Association 

Henry (IL) Decoy Show 

Long Island Decoy Collectors Association 

Minnesota Decoy Collector's Association 

Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Association 

Potomac Decoy Collectors Association