A Conversation About E. Stanton Stofer Duck Calls
By Lynn Woodworth
Originally Published in the 2002 KC Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Program
E. Stanton Stofer was a physician by profession, a sportsman, and quite likely, a great marketer of duck calls. Information on his personal life is very sketchy; we do know he was a doctor in WWI and continued in this profession. According to the Jackson County Public Library his business was located at 322 Shukert Building, Kansas City, Missouri, the same address shown on an advertisement for one of his calls. This building is still in existence, though the address is now 1115-1119 Grand Avenue. I learned from one of Stofer’s former employees that calls were made at a farm located in Lone Jack, Missouri, a small town east of Kansas City. The equipment consisted of Atlas turning lathes which were stored in chicken coops when they weren’t being used.
The Early Years
I have long wondered about the progression of Stofer’s designs and why the names stamped on them were often different. In my opinion, the earliest call is the one on the left – the double ring call with a lanyard groove and squared-end stem followed next by the small call with a squared stem. (See photos next page.) On the balance of calls the stem style remained the same and the tone channels were hand done. The reeds were made of brass and were clipped where the reed meets the wedge cut.
To this point I believe Stofer’s early calls were stamped only E.S. Stofer, K.C. Mo. or E.S. Stofer, Lone Jack, Mo., though some had no stamp. Looking at call number six in the photo (next page) you can see an abrupt change. This call is stamped E. Stofer, KCMO and in a circular white oval, Stofer Bean Lake Duck Call. Comparing this call and the call in the Novelty Sales ad (Harlan, Page 165, top left) the call style and shape are similar. I think Stofer found a great sales ploy – using the same call and either stamping them E. S. Stofer, KC, Mo or after receiving an order from Novelty Sales, he applied the circular white stamp.
The Later Years
The Aladdin Manufacturing Company of Kansas City turned barrels and stems and tuned calls for Stofer; there could have been other companies, but they are not known. The changes are now readily seen – the majority of calls walnut barrels and maple stems, routered tone channels and larger stem bore holes. Is it possible that an increase in sales through the use of advertising by the Sales Company made it necessary to turn to other production sources to keep up with orders? His calls now had an ever-changing stamp on the barrels – STOFER; E. STOFER; E. STOFER, KC, MO (checkered); SPECIAL STOFER DUCK CALL; REELFOOT LAKE DUCK CALL; BEAN LAKE E. STOFER DUCK CALL. Was this a strategy which allowed him to offer a new call, but not change the basic design or specifications?
The name “Bean Lake” seemed to me to be the vehicle by which Stofer gauged the success of his sales. The first use, the duel stamp in conjunction with the Novelty Sales Company ad, was the start. Next, using the name “Bean Lake Duck Call” on his advertising sent out with the calls. (See Harlan, page 164) and finally on the call we seem to find in the largest quantity, the Bean Lake E Stofer Duck Call.
Whatever viewpoint you choose to use, the one common denominator was Stofer produced a duck call that was appreciated by hunters and call collectors alike. What I’ve presented is my opinion. My hope is that collectors will check their Stofer calls and write letters if they have other ideas, dates and/or factual information.
I want to thank Bill Ahrenkiel and Jim Thompson who each allowed me to use one of their calls in the photos and Jim Winburn who shared information with me.
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