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"Boss" Hoover Mallard Drake
A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1925
17 3/4 in. long
This bold drake with full cheek carving and a pronounced breast is one of Crowell’s best examples of this rare species. When this decoy was made, mallards were not as prevalent along the Atlantic Flyway, as is evidenced by their scarce representation as decoys along the East Coast. Indeed, this large mallard was ordered in 1925 for use at the Toussaint Shooting Club in Port Clinton, Ohio. One of the most important decoys to come out of Ohio, Crowell’s patron for this rare species was William H. “Boss” Hoover (1849-1932), founder of the vacuum cleaner company. The underside bears Crowell’s oval brand and a painted “HOOVER” owners designation.
Regarding the industrial giant, Ohio History Central states, “As a young man, he became involved in the leather business, working as a tanner. He remained involved in the tannery business until the first decade of the twentieth century. In 1908, Hoover purchased John Murray Spangler’s patent for the upright vacuum cleaner. Ultimately, Spangler’s invention became known as the Hoover vacuum cleaner... the largest vacuum cleaner manufacturer in the world.”
A world traveler and sportsman, between 1910 and 1920 Hoover opened up factories in Canada and England. A monumental American figure, even today the act of vacuuming in England is often referred to as “hoovering.” Original paint with even gunning wear, minor touch-up around eyes and to a chip at left edge of bill.
Provenance: William H. "Boss" Hoover Rig
Rusty and Dianna Johnson Collection, acquired from Decoys Unlimited
Literature: Ohio History Central, "William H. Hoover," www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/William_H._Hoover, November 27, 2018.
Stephen B. O'Brien, Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019.
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