Duck Calls of Illinois 1863-1963

Nov 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Publications

Few possessions are as highly prized by duck hunters as their favorite calls.  Skillfully crafted and highly individualized calls enable the hunter to attract waterfowl by mimicking their sounds.  In recent years, the appreciation for duck calls and the art of duck call making has increased notably among waterfowl enthusiasts.  As collecting has grown in popularity, a fascination with the history and craftsmanship of duck calls has emerged.

In this lavishly illustrated book, The Duck Calls of Illinois 1863-1963, collector and enthusiast Robert D. Christensen recounts the history of duck call making and provides a practical guide for collectors of this uniquely American folk art.  Featuring famous makers and introducing many lesser known craftsmen, he shows how Illinois artisans dominated the early market and continued to influence the design and refinement of the modern duck call.  The book spans one hundred years of call making from 1863 to 1963, detailing the development and evolution of call design and focusing on the work of Illinoisans, whose contributions in the “golden age” of hand-crafted duck calls have remained unparalleled.  Christensen offers useful advice on collecting duck calls, including information on finding antiques, evaluating calls of unknown origin, assessing value and identifying counterfeit calls.

Christensen provides essential data on over one hundred call makers of Illinois, long recognized as a vital and active hub for the craftsmanship of calls, and includes over five hundred photographs and illustrations that facilitate identification of the calls.  Covered in the catalog of call makers are such historically significant and skilled crafters as Fred A. Allen, credited with having made the first modern duck call; Charles W. Grubbs, maker of the first commercial modern wooden duck call; Charles H. Perdew, Illinois’s most revered call maker, the Glodo family of Southern Illinois fame; Plilip Olt, founder of the world’s largest call company; Charles Ditto, nationally renowed waterfowler and sportsman and Bill Clifford, call maker of the most intricately designed and crafted laminated duck calls.

An invaluable reference book and collector’s guide, this volume is a unique accessory to waterfowling for enthusiasts and a must for collectors.

Robert D. Christensen, and avid call collector, became involved with collecting contemporary calls in the 1070’s as a result of his search for the perfect hunting call.  Gradually he became interested in antique calls, particularly those from Illinois, long recognized for its calls.  His continuing interest led him to write Duck Calls of Illinois, 1863-1963, for which he interviewed call makers and their descendants, old hunters and historians.

In 1987 Christensen was elected the first vice-president of the newly founded Callmakers and Collectors Association of America.  A number of his articles on duck calls have appeared in the association’s new letter.  As a recognized authority in the field of call collecting, he is frequently asked to authenticate and to appraise calls for other collectors.

A lifetime resident of Illinois, Christensen has hunted ducks and geese throughout the state for almost thirty years.  He has called ducks and geese on the Illinois River, on the Mississippi River, in the Southern Illinois goose country and amid the lakes and potholes of Northern Illinois.  Since 1966 he has made his living as a high school vocational education teacher in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, where he lives with his family.

Duck calls of Illinois 1863-1963

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