Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Fish Decoy Carvers of the Past Issue One: Frank Mizera of Ely, Minnesota

The picture on my header showcases the folk art fishing decoys of Frank Mizera from my home town, Ely, Minnesota.  Frank was a guide and sold his decoys and trout jigs to his friends, commonly for $1.50 each.  Barbershops, hardware stores and friends carried them.  The tails were delicate and he used cedar.  This photo includes a rare original metal tail decoy that was very far from the norm.  There are also a couple of metal trout jigs and a wooden trout jig (cheater decoy) with a dressed hair.  Present as well are many cheater decoys, used here predominantly to fish for lake trout.  They are range from early, to barber pole striped, to orange and finally unfinished wooden blanks.  A rough very small and very early decoy is missing much of its paint.  I like red and white the best even though his fish of other colors seem to be much more valuable to collectors.  The old bobbers keep the theme going.  The spear is a Pimple.  If anyone knows anything about the minnow bucket/box with the twin triangular metal floats, I'd love to know.  Found it in Ely.  Frank Mizera died in 1969.  He continues to be an inspiration to the carvers and collectors that love darkhouse spearing decoys.

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