HOW: I recommend a three ringed binder. If space is a consideration, a spiral tablet will do. Only use the front of each page for information. The back side is used for information you may acquire at a later date. Assign each decoy a number such as #374. This number will stay with the decoy as long as you own it or longer. This number should be written in the left margin with the date of purchase under it. The decoy information will be recorded in the body of each entry to the right. Information such as who you bought the decoy from and who you sold it to. Price you paid and the price you sold it for. Include dates. Maker and condition of the decoy should be recorded in as detailed a way as possible. You will refer to this information many times throughout the years. If you have a value estimate on the decoy from…say a reputable auction company, dealer or personal experience, record it when you purchase the decoy and review it from time to time. This will be priceless in the future. The condition of the decoy may change as time goes by. Conditions such as neck filler missing, tail chips, shot marks, eye cracks and any repairs or touch-ups made to correct such conditions must be noted. Memories are short. You ask why would the condition of a decoy change? Improper humidity levels in your home can cause cracks or paint discoloration. Decoys are dropped. Specks of paint may show up on decoys not removed or covered during home repair or maintenance. All kinds of things cause condition change. Remember….too much information is better than too little!
WHY: Why go to all this trouble? I would suggest everyone have insurance on their collection. Don’t count on your homeowner’s policy to cover your decoys. If you are lucky you may have purchased decoys that have increased in value a little or maybe a lot with values exceeding the homeowner’s policy limits. If you have a fire or a break-in and need to file a claim, all this information will come in handy, if not absolutely required by your insurance company. If you pass away and your spouse must dispose of your collection, this information will be incredibly helpful. If you need income for one reason or another this information will speed things along. If you do experience a theft, this information will be available to you to share with other collectors who may spot your missing decoys and aid in their recovery.
Don’t make recording this information a drudgery. Make it fun and do the best job you can. Store this information in at least two places: one close at hand…preferably a home safe, and one completely secure such as a safety deposit box. If you follow my suggestions you will not regret it.
— Vaughn B. Walters
Grand River Decoys